The sportfishing industry applauds the recent introduction of the Sport Fish Restoration, Recreational Boating Safety, and Wildlife Restoration Act of 2021. Led in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and in the House of Representatives by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Garret Graves (R-La.), this bill would reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF), which is funded in part by the federal excise tax on fishing equipment paid by the sportfishing industry. This program funds state-based sportfish conservation and habitat restoration projects, infrastructure for boating access and education for anglers and boaters.
The Sport Fish Restoration, Recreational Boating Safety, and Wildlife Restoration Act of 2021 would reauthorize the SFRBTF through 2025 and make important administrative improvements to improve the efficiency of the program.
“The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund is one of the nation’s most important conservation programs,” said Glenn Hughes, president of the American Sportfishing Association. “Last year, the sportfishing industry contributed over $200 million into the trust fund through the federal excise tax on fishing equipment. The fisheries conservation and public access projects carried out all across the country provide opportunities for the nation’s 55 million anglers to enjoy time on the water.”
This SFRBTF is funded through multiple sources of revenue including the federal excise tax on recreational fishing equipment, the fuel tax attributable to motorboats and small engines, and import duties. Last year, nearly $743 million was collected into the SFRBTF, which was a $83 million increase over the previous year, due primarily to increases in fishing equipment excise tax receipts.
Most of these funds go to the state fish and wildlife agencies to support valuable fisheries projects, from restoring habitat to maintaining hatcheries to building boat ramps. The trust fund also supports other important work, including coastal wetlands protection, boating safety programs, and promoting fishing and boating participation.
The SFRBTF began in 1950 with the passage of the Dingell-Johnson Act which established a federal excise tax on recreational fishing equipment. The Wallop-Breaux Amendment of 1984 expanded the program by adding more tackle and sport fishing equipment under the excise tax and included the federal fuel taxes attributable to motor boats and small engines.
Additional original sponsors of the House bill are Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Marc Veasey (D-Tex.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.) Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.).