The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 (S. 1811), which now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) has strongly advocated for WRDA 2020, which includes numerous policies that support water quality, aquatic resource conservation and fishing access.

“Throughout 2020, it become increasingly apparent that Americans deeply value opportunities to get out on the water,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s vice president of Government Affairs. “However, a day on the water with family and friends and the associated economic impacts are threatened by poor water quality, invasive species and outdated infrastructure. Thankfully, WRDA 2020 takes meaningful steps to address these challenges.”

Specific provisions included in WRDA 2020 supported by ASA include:

  • Advancing Everglades restoration by:
    • Expediting construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.
    • Authorizing Loxahatchee River Watershed Restoration Project.
    • Expediting feasibility studies, planning and design for the C-111 and Lake Okeechobee and Western Everglades projects.
    • Requiring consideration of impacts to coastal estuaries in the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule review.
    • Addressing invasive species risk, control and prevention within the South Florida ecosystem.
  • Creating a demonstration program to assist in detecting, treating and preventing harmful algal blooms, which continue to negatively impact fisheries resources and fishing opportunities throughout the country.
  • Supporting efforts to eradicate, control and manage aquatic invasive species (AIS) by:
    • Authorizing the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, which is a critical project to block the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.
    • Expanding the Army Corps of Engineers AIS Research Program.
    • Authorizing increased funding and geographic scope of watercraft inspection stations.
    • Establishing an Asian Carp Prevention Pilot Program and dedicating additional resources to fight the spread of Asian Carp throughout the Mississippi and Ohio River basins.
  • Supporting greater use of natural and nature-based projects by:
    • Ensuring natural alternatives are provided the same consideration as structural alternatives.
    • Clarifying that natural and nature-based projects are eligible under the Corps’ continuing authorities programs.

“The Water Resources Development Act of 2020 builds on the growing momentum at both the state and federal levels to move Everglades restoration forward,” said Kellie Ralston, ASA’s Southeast Fisheries Policy director.“Combined with record funding, these projects are key to improving water quality in South Florida and critical to maintaining the state’s honor as the Fishing Capital of the World. We appreciate the Congressional commitment to ensure passage of WRDA 2020 and look forward to the President’s signature.”

“The sportfishing industry is grateful to see that WRDA 2020 includes a variety of measures that will bolster federal and state efforts to fight the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), which are one of the top threats to future sportfishing opportunities throughout the country,” said Chad Tokowicz, ASA’s Inland Fisheries Policy manager. “The focus of combatting AIS, ranging from Asian Carp to Quagga and Zebra mussels, is being done by both increasing funding for pre-existing programs and creating new initiatives. This demonstrates the commitment Congress has to combatting AIS and we are thankful for the provisions included in the final bill.”