Bipartisan Fish Habitat Conservation Bill Passes U.S. House Committee
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources today, September 25, 2019, passed a bipartisan bill that authorizes a successful public-private partnership program to conserve and restore fish habitats nationwide for the benefit of America’s 49 million recreational anglers.
The bipartisan National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnership Act (H.R. 1747), was introduced by U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Marc Veasey (D-Texas), would codify the National Fish Habitat Partnership, which funds on-the-ground habitat restoration projects such as dam removals, streambank stabilizations, and invasive aquatic plant removal. This legislation would enhance the program by providing Congressional approval, ensuring more funding goes toward restoration projects and allowing a broad group of stakeholders to identify funding priorities.
The National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnership Act was introduced in March in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Before today’s markup, this bipartisan legislation received a hearing yesterday in the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. Rep. Wittman testified in favor of this legislation during the hearing.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership is a voluntary, non-regulatory and locally-driven program housed within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This program has 20 individual Fish Habitat Partnerships that focus on specific regions or habitat types. To date, more than 800 successful conservation projects have been carried out through these partnerships, benefitting fish habitat and anglers throughout the country.
Also during today’s hearing, the Committee approved Rep. Chellie Pingree’s (D-Maine) H.R. 3596, the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act, which establishes a grant program to support coastal working waterfronts. Reps. Garret Graves (R-La.) and Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) successfully included an amendment to ensure that recreational fishing and boating businesses, such as marinas, are included in the program.
“In my South Carolina district, we have a thriving tourism industry and recreational fishing and boating play a major role in that economy,” said Cunningham. “In South Carolina, tourism is what keeps our waterfronts working, which is why we need to include these recreational businesses in working waterfront planning. Recreational fishing brings almost half a billion dollars in annual sales and an extra $300 million in indirect economic benefits to South Carolina.”
For more than 85 years, American Sportfishing Association (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.