The sportfishing industry applauds the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for advancing the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015. This bill, which will improve fisheries conservation and recreational fishing access throughout the country, has now cleared all committees of jurisdiction in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and now awaits action on the floor of both chambers.
“From the sportfishing industry’s standpoint, passage of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act is a top priority and today’s action gets us one step closer to enactment,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “We greatly appreciate Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) leadership in moving forward this important legislation that benefits the nation’s 46 million anglers and nearly one million jobs supported by recreational fishing.”
Originally sponsored by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 contains provisions that will benefit our nation’s sportsmen and women by providing increased access to our public lands and waters; protecting traditional fishing equipment from unnecessary regulation; and improving fish and wildlife conservation.
The portion of the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works committee this morning contains several important top priorities for the sportfishing industry that were included in the underlying bill or amended into it during the hearing. These include:
Protection of traditional fishing equipment from unwarranted federal bans or restrictions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This language, which was included in the original bill, has long been championed by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
Authorization and enhancement of the National Fish Habitat Partnership, which will improve fish habitat through partnerships that carry out conservation projects or enhance recreational fishing opportunities. This amendment was championed by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
Expansion of state marine fisheries management in the southeast by extending the state boundaries of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida (on the Atlantic coast) to nine miles for reef fish. This amendment, which is similar to language recently included in the Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Appropriations Act by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), was championed by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).
Support for management of Army Corp of Engineers facilities by allowing for user fees to remain at local facilities through cooperative agreements with non-federal entities that will provide for operation and management of recreational facilities and natural resources at civil works projects. This amendment was championed by Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.).
“We especially thank the committee members and other senators who have championed the Sportsmen’s Act for recognizing that the EPA has more important things to consider than unwarranted restrictions on what is in a fisherman’s tackle box,” said Gudes.
“With both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee having passed their portions of the Sportsmen’s Act, we are now ready for the bills to be merged and considered on the Senate floor,” noted Gudes. “It’s important, however, for the recreational fishing community to know that our work is far from over. Similar legislation has fallen victim to partisan politics in past sessions of Congress.”
“We must continue to remind Congress of how important recreational fishing is to conservation and the economy, and to urge Congress to finally enact these legislative changes to improve the values that recreational fishing provides to the nation,” Gudes concluded.