Finally, a Fisheries Issue that Unites!
by Libby Yranski, Policy Fellow, American Sportfishing Association
September 27, 2013
These days, there’s not much in the world that positively unites people. There’s even less that unites the federal government, state governments, conservation groups and the people on the ground, but surprisingly improving fish habitat is just one of those things. The National Fish Habitat Partnership unites all fifty states, the District of Columbia, the stakeholders that were previously mentioned and actually does something good for the country and for recreational fishing.
The Partnership began developing in 2001 and since then there have been almost 350 projects started and 18 partnerships formed. These Partnerships cross state lines and party delineations. The Partnerships focus on restoring degraded fish habitat, bolstering current habitat to prevent degradation and improving the overall quality and quantity of habitats so that the diversity and abundance of fish can increase. Without healthy habitat there are no fish to catch.
How can we continue this critical program so that they don’t fall by the wayside?
The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act has been introduced for the last three Congresses but as of yet has not passed. This piece of legislation is the key for leveraging a little bit of federal funding for fish habitat partnerships and projects that are match several times over by individuals, organizations and state governments. It’s rare that you find a politician who disagrees with the principles of this program, as these projects provide clean water and sustainable fisheries in their own state! Now before you stop reading because you think that this program would be more government spending, the Partnership has been funded for over ten years; so the bill does not call for “new” spending. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act is legislation ensuring that these projects and programs continue to be funded for years to come. Now before you ask, “well how much are these Partnerships getting,” it’s less than ten million dollars – which isn’t even lint in the government’s pocket!
We continue to support the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act because it is a rare volunteer, non-regulatory, science-based, landscape-scaled fish habitat conservation program and without it the quantity and quality of the waters and fish throughout the U.S. could be degraded. Please visit our Issue Page for more information, and stay tuned for ways you can help ensure the passage of this common-sense legislation that will benefit fish and fishermen for generations to come.