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Coast Guard Foundation LEADERBOARD 2

September Policy Watch

by American Sportfishing Association 12 Oct 16:27 UTC
Youth Coastal Fishing Bill introduced © American Sportfishing Association

Youth Coastal Fishing Bill introduced

On September 22, 2022, Congress introduced the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act of 2022. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Maria Salazar (R-Fla.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), along with 19 bipartisan cosponsors, while the Senate version was introduced by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

The bill would create a grant program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for projects that take children fishing with priority given to underserved communities. This legislation falls in line with ASA's goal of introducing new anglers - particularly young people - to recreational fishing.

A synopsis of the bill can be found here and a letter of support signed by 21 organizations can be found here. Please visit the Keep America Fishing action center to contact your Congressional delegation in support of this bill.

Efforts to protect traditional tackle amid new restrictions

On September 15, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) released a final rule announcing the prohibition of lead fishing tackle on certain National Wildlife Refuges that are being opened to fishing.

ASA's statement expresses our disappointment about this decision which ignores science and the concerns of the sportfishing industry. In response to this rule, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act of 2022. A companion House bill was introduced by Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.). The bill would prohibit the USFWS, U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from banning the use of lead ammunition and tackle on public lands unless such regulation is supported by the best available science and respective state wildlife agencies.

Please visit the Keep America Fishing action center to contact your Congressional delegation in support of this bill.

Committee approves proposed reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act

On September 29, 2022, the House Natural Resources Committee voted along party lines in favor of the Sustaining America's Fisheries for the Future Act (H.R. 4690), which would reauthorize the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The vote came after a lengthy hearing on September 21, 2022.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Don Young, who died in March. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) has since assumed Young's seat and declared her support for the legislation, which revived the effort to reauthorize the fisheries law. Now the Sustaining America's Fisheries for the Future Act heads to the floor for a vote. Prior to the markup, ASA and other recreational fishing organizations sent a letter to the committee expressing our interest in remaining engaged in the MSA reauthorization process to ensure our community's priorities are addressed.

Overwhelming support from public on Wildlife Conservation Bill

The Recovering America's Wildlife Act (RAWA) (H.R. 2773) would dedicate $1.4 billion to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to implement science-based recovery plans. According to a recent survey conducted by Responsive Management, 70% of Americans - across the political and demographic spectrum - support this bill.

RAWA has already passed the House in a bipartisan manner and now awaits a floor vote in the Senate. Fisheries would greatly benefit from the funding RAWA provides for conservation and restoration projects.

Right Whale vessel speed rule comment deadline extended

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced a 30-day extension of the North Atlantic Right Whale vessel speed rule. Comments are now due October 31. The proposal would create a vast speed restriction zone from Massachusetts to north Florida for all vessels 35' or greater for approximately half the year. While we understand the importance in protecting right whales, ASA is concerned about the significant impact this will have on fishing and boating. ASA has already sent a comment letter, urging NMFS not to proceed with this rule, as it will cripple coastal communities and fail to protect Right Whales.

Read the full letter here, and submit your comments in opposition to the rule here.

National Refuge Bill Passes House

On September 19, the House passed the Keep America's Refuges Operational Act (H.R. 6734), which reauthorizes the volunteer services, community partnership, and refuge education programs of the National Wildlife Refuge System. By increasing volunteer activity, this bill will reduce costs that would otherwise fall on taxpayers. This act ensures that wildlife refuges are operational, allowing anglers to access enhanced fishing opportunities.

Catch up on the politics of fish podcast

ASA's podcast, The Politics of Fish, has been helping listeners better understand the complexities of the legislative and regulatory issues affecting sportfishing. New episodes include discussion with Ed Schriever, Board Chair of the National Fish Habitat Partnership, John DePersenaire on proposed vessel speed restrictions, ASA Southeast Fisheries Policy Director, Martha Guyas, on South Atlantic red snapper, and Phil Lillo, ASA's new Board Chair. New episodes are released biweekly, so stay tuned! Our archive of episodes is always available here.

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