America’s Conservation Enhancement Act would fund restoration projects and could protect lead fishing tackle.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Passage of America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, or ACE Act, out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Dec. 17 was hailed as a major victory for recreational fishing. The proposal, if ultimately supported by Congress and the White House, would provide support for fisheries programs and protections on fishing tackle.
One of the senatorial authors of the bill stated the ACE Act would protect wildlife habitats from invasive species, promote fish conservation and help recover endangered or threatened species.
“The ACE Act … enshrines in statute partnerships among public agencies and other interested parties that promote fish conservation. [It] also includes studies that will help inform how to improve successful conservation and recovery of endangered and threatened species,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, said.
Barrasso, who is chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced the ACE Act with Sen. John Carper, D-Delaware.
Several fishing and outdoors organizations expressed support of the ACE Act, including the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).
“Multiple bipartisan wins were included in this major legislation such as the authorization of the National Fish Habitat Partnership program and support for programs important to fisheries conservation in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay,” Mike Leonard, ASA’s vice president of government affairs, said in a released statement.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership program is one of the key elements of the ACE Act. The conservation program provides funding for restoration projects, both nationwide and regionally.
The ACE Act would also exempt lead fishing tackles from federal regulations or bans, according to an ASA statement on the bill (which is chaptered as S. 3051).
A restoration program to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries was also included in the ACE Act. The fisheries of the Great Lakes would receive support from the ACE Act, as well – particularly in fisheries data collection and biological assessments.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works vote was unanimous. The ACE Act now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
Other provisions of the ACE Act addressed hunting and other outdoor-based recreational activities.