Next week, your U.S. Senators are expected to vote on the most comprehensive package of sportsmen’s legislation in recent years. Introduced on September 10, 2012, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) includes 19 bills that will benefit the sportfishing community, as well as recreational shooters and hunters. This historic legislation provides for increased access, habitat conservation and improved fish and wildlife management.
The Senate is expected to vote on this bill by Thursday, September 20.
Originally proposed in June as an amendment to the Farm Bill, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 ultimately was ruled non-germane to the Farm Bill and was not included. Fortunately, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), along with eight co-sponsors, has introduced the bill as a standalone bill, with a vote expected before the current session ends next week.
Individual bills of particular importance to the sportfishing community in the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 include:
Making Public Lands Public Act – Increases access for angling, hunting and recreational shooting on federal lands by directing 1.5 percent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure access to fishing, hunting and other recreational activities.
The Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act – Blocks ongoing attempts to federally ban lead in recreational fishing equipment and ammunition by amending the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Billfish Conservation Act – Conserves declining billfish populations by prohibiting the commercial sale and importation of billfish throughout the U.S., with exceptions for Hawaii and the Pacific Insular Area islands to preserve traditional fishing practices.
National Fish Habitat Conservation Act – Authorizes the National Fish Habitat Partnership, the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to conserve, restore and enhance fish habitat on a range-wide scale.
Artificial Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico – Requires the Department of the Interior to coordinate federal and state efforts in order to maintain idle drilling platforms as valuable artificial fish reefs.
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–– Source: Keep America Fishing