Commerce Committee passes Sport Fishing bill
Rockefeller – Thune bill would create jobs, support habitat restoration, and boating safety programs
Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD) this week released the following statements after the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed S. 2028, the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2014, which seeks to preserve and restore fishing habitats which benefit the Nation’s sport fishermen, while creating jobs in the recreating industry. The legislation now awaits action by the full Senate.
“For generations, West Virginians have enjoyed some of the best fishing in the world,” Rockefeller said. “We all want our children and grandchildren to continue enjoying this tradition, but it will require work on our part to keep our rivers, lakes, and streams clean and safe. This bill puts us on that path. I especially want to thank Ranking Member Thune for his support.”
“The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Safety Act ensures we continue to preserve and restore fishing habitats which benefit sport fishermen throughout the country,” said Thune, co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. “South Dakotans take pride in our hunting and fishing opportunities and always welcome visitors to participate in this strong tradition. I look forward to working with Chairman Rockefeller and my colleagues in the Senate to continue moving this legislation forward.”
The Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2014 would continue direct funding to state agencies for support of fisheries management, habitat conservation, and boating safety programs. Wildlife recreation supports tens of thousands of jobs across the country. In West Virginia, for example, 1.2 million people spent $1.16 billion in 2011 on fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching – money which directly supports local businesses and grows the economy. And in South Dakota, 662,000 people spent more than $966 million on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.
The legislation reauthorizes through Fiscal Year 2021 the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which has benefitted millions of anglers and fishermen since 1950. The Fund pools roughly $500 million annually in excise taxes on fishing equipment and boating fuel purchases, and allocates the funds on a formula basis to support state programs. In Fiscal Year 2013, West Virginia received more than $4.5 million, of which $3.6 million went to state sport fish and habitat conservation programs, and $900,000 went to state recreational boating safety and education. South Dakota received more than $5.2 million, of which $4.4 million went to state sport fish and habitat conservation programs, and $800,000 went to state recreational boating safety and education.