Alexandria, Va. – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) passed bipartisan conservation legislation that includes several wins for the recreational fishing industry, such as authorization of key national and regional fisheries programs and protections for traditional fishing tackle.
America’s Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act (S. 3051) was introduced recently by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R- Wyo.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.). This bipartisan legislation, which is supported by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and many other outdoor and fisheries conservation organizations, passed the committee unanimously and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
“Bipartisanship is a rare commodity these days in Washington, but natural resources conservation is one area that garners support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s vice president of Government Affairs. “The sportfishing industry is grateful to Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper for championing this bipartisan legislation and quickly moving it out of committee.”
Leonard further noted, “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. When Congress comes together to support conservation and recreational fishing access, great things can be accomplished, and we welcome more bipartisan collaboration.”
Important wins for the recreational fishing community within the ACE Act include:
- National Fish Habitat Partnership program authorization: This is a state- and locally-driven conservation initiative that funds on-the-ground restoration projects. Federally authorizing this program, will help provide more consistent federal funding and establish a strategic framework creating certainty for restoration and conservation projects. Originally, this legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year by Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).Similar legislation passed in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in December.
- Lead fishing tackle provisions: Fishing tackle that includes products containing lead, would be exempted from unwarranted federal regulations and bans. This provision would provide certainty to tackle manufacturers and the nation’s 49 million anglers against sweeping federal restrictions.
- Chesapeake Bay restoration and conservation: Conservation and restoration programs to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are included in the bipartisan ACE Act. The Chesapeake Bay is critical to the health and vitality of many recreationally important fish such as striped bass.
- Great Lakes research and assessment: The Great Lakes-focused provision in the legislation will help support fisheries data collection in the Great Lakes. It also authorizes the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct biological assessments needed for conserving and maintaining the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishery.
In support of the ACE Act, ASA encouraged its quick consideration in a lettersent to Chairman John Barrasso and Ranking Member Tom Carper. ASA highlighted the important impact this bipartisan legislation would have on the nation’s $125 billion recreational fishing economy which supports over 800,000 jobs across the country.