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Sportfishing Industry Testifies Before Congress On Importance Of Youth Fishing

Alexandria, VA -Mike Lum, southwest regional manager for American Sportfishing Association (ASA) member Morton & Associates and fundraising coordinator for Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea, testified during the House Committee on Natural Resource’s legislative hearing in support of the Youth Costal Fishing Program Act of 2023 (H.R. 3925). Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea focuses on providing educational fishing trips and marine awareness trips for disadvantaged, physically challenged, and at-risk youth.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Maria Salazar, R-Fla., and Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Calif., would support youth fishing projects by establishing a grant program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and prioritizing programs in underserved communities.

“Most of the kids we serve live within 40 miles of the coast, yet many of them have never seen the ocean,” said Lum. “Giving children a hands-on introduction to the sea cannot be replicated with books or videos. Many children, given the opportunity to be on a boat for the first time, gain an understanding and natural curiosity that stays with them forever. There are adults working careers in the sportfishing and marine trades today that were introduced to the ocean on a Captain Rollo trip.”

“This bipartisan proposal would spur an increase in access to fishing across the country for America’s youth,” said ASA Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard. “Mike Lum’s compelling testimony about the thousands of lives that have been changed for the better through the Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea Program will hopefully help motivate Congress to pass the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act and help scale up programs like this around the country. The sportfishing industry thanks Chairman Cliff Bentz and Ranking Member Jared Huffman for holding today’s hearing.”

Federal management agencies such as the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service already have programs dedicated to increasing participation in outdoor recreation, and this bill would bring NOAA in line with other federal agencies. 

“We would like to provide many more young people the opportunity this program offers,” Lum added. “The system works well and requires no additional cost, staff, or time to ramp up. We can double or triple the number of trips without any added expenses. One hundred percent of additional funding will be used to increase the number of kids who can benefit.”

In 1999, Friends of Rollo was founded with the goal of providing as many kids as possible the opportunity to experience their first ocean fishing trip. With a priority placed on underserved communities, it typically grants 60 to 100 trips per year. Each boat carries 30-50 young people. The organization has benefitted over 140,000 children since its inception.

About the American Sportfishing Association 

For 90 years, ASA has passionately represented the people, policies and ideas that help recreational fishing thrive. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business and participation. We invest in long-term ventures to ensure the industry remains strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. To learn more, visit asafishing.org.

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