February Policy Watch From the ASA

ASA is changing Policy Watch from a monthly round-up of policy news to a weekly policy newsletter. Breaking news will now hit your inbox quicker, keeping you up to date on the most pressing issues affecting the sportfishing community. Stay tuned for the new and improved Policy Watch, coming soon!

Rep. Wittman Introduces Sportsmen’s Access Bill

Sportfishing advocate, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) introduced the Protecting Access for Hunters and Anglers Act (H.R. 615) which would prohibit federal agencies from banning traditional lead tackle on public lands and waters. Last Congress, this legislation was introduced in response to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule that would ban traditional tackle on some National Wildlife Refuges. No scientific evidence supported the service’s action which set a concerning precedent that federal land managers don’t need to base management decisions on science. The re-introduction of this bill reaffirms the importance of regional and locally led science-based management. Learn more about this legislation on ASA’s website.

Bill Supporting Creation of Artificial Reefs Reintroduced

U.S. Reps. María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) and Ed Case (D-Hawaii) reintroduced the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification Act (H.R. 950), better known as the REEF Act, in the U.S House. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. Senate (S. 386). During the last Congress, ASA spearheaded a letter from the recreational fishing and boating community in support of the bill which includes opportunities for retired naval vessels to be considered for artificial reefs. This legislation would benefit marine life and anglers, along with local economies that benefit from anglers’ spending power. Read ASA’s letter of support here.

Lawmakers Reintroduce Bipartisan Coastal Resiliency Bill  

U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) introduced the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies & Ecosystems (RISEE) Act in the U.S. Senate and House, respectively. This legislation would promote more equitable revenue sharing from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act and create a new dedicated stream of funding from future offshore wind development for coastal protection and resiliency. The potential funds generated from this bill would benefit fisheries and anglers by supporting coastal conservation, restoration and environmental projects to preserve and restore eroding coastlines. ASA is proud to support this bill.

Senate Leaders Reintroduce National Parks Visitation Bill  

Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Angus King (I-Maine) reintroduced the Gateway Community and Recreation Enhancement Act. This legislation would create a pilot program to share real-time visitation data, redirecting visitors from busy national parks and public lands to lesser-known recreation areas. Gateway communities would also receive support from the Department of the Interior to address infrastructure challenges. Anglers will benefit from better fishing opportunities created by this this bill.

Commercial Menhaden Industry Curtails Virginia Research Bill 

A bill that would have commissioned a Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) study on the ecological and economic impacts of the menhaden fishery is no more. Instead, the bill was amended and now instructs VIMS to assess the feasibility of such a study. Simply put, the bill commissions a study of a study, while the commercial menhaden industry continues to operate unsustainably. A healthy menhaden stock is critical for the striped bass fishery. Despite the disappointing amendment to this bill, ASA will continue to fight for improved menhaden management.

California 30×30 Update 

In 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-82-20, committing the state to conserving 30% of lands and coastal waters by 2030. Since then, the sportfishing community has been involved in the 30×30 conversation by advocating for science-based policies with measurable objectives. Despite efforts by ASA and our partners, the California Natural Resource Agency (CNRA) continues to advocate for additional fishing closures as necessary to meet objectives of 30×30. This month, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of California launched a public information campaign detailing the impacts 30×30 could cause to recreational fishing if implemented as proposed by CNRA. ASA will continue to work with CCA and our other partners, to advocate for the sportfishing community and conservation backed by science.

Offshore Wind Update 

In February, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a proposed offshore wind lease sale notice for the Gulf of Mexico, in offshore areas of Lake Charles, La. and Galveston, Texas. This will be the first lease sale in the area. Amid this announcement, the Departments of Energy, the Interior, Commerce and Transportation held a floating offshore wind summit. While no floating offshore wind projects are currently underway, the federal agencies shared their goals for future floating offshore wind development, which would allow for cost savings and expansion in wind energy.

If there is an issue that you are concerned about or would like to discuss, please contact Mike Leonard by email or at (703) 519-9691 x 230.

About

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 55 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate nearly $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for 800,000 people.

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