Bill Benefiting Recreational Fishing Clears House Natural Resources Committee
Alexandria, VA – October 8, 2015 – The recreational fishing industry applauds today’s passage of a bill by the House Natural Resources Committee that benefits recreational fishing and hunting and natural resource conservation.
Introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Vice Chairs Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Gene Green (D-Texas), the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act includes provisions to improve public access to federal lands and guard against new regulations that threaten to block or limit access to hunting and fishing.
“After failed attempts in the previous two sessions of Congress, the recreational fishing community is anxiously awaiting the long-overdue passage of a comprehensive sportsmen’s package,” said Scott Gudes, vice president, Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “The House Natural Resources Committee’s action today gives us optimism for the future. We applaud Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and members of the committee for advancing this significant legislation.”
Specific provisions in the SHARE Act that impact the recreational fishing community include:
- Protecting traditional fishing equipment containing lead from unwarranted federal bans.
- Requiring federal land managers to support and facilitate access for fishing, hunting and recreational shooting on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.
- Preventing unnecessary closures to fishing and hunting on public lands by implementing an “open until closed” management policy.
Additionally, an amendment to ensure that state and territorial fisheries agencies have a rightful say in fisheries management decisions in their own waters was approved. The amendment, offered by Rep. Amata Radewagen (R-American Samoa), mirrors a bipartisan bill introduced earlier this year by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), and 33 other sponsors, titled the Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act.
Gudes noted, “This bill was introduced in response to the controversial fishing closure in Biscayne National Park, in which Florida’s fisheries management expertise was dismissed by the National Park Service.”
“We greatly appreciate Rep. Radewagen for her leadership in helping to ensure that recreational fishing on public waters remains a tradition that everyone can enjoy,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Ocean Resource Policy director. “Chairman Bishop, Rep. Wittman and Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) are also to be commended for voicing their strong support of this amendment during the hearing. This critically important legislation will help protect states’ rights and ensure that fishing regulations are based on sound science, not a preservationist agenda.”
The SHARE Act next moves to the House floor. Companion legislation in the Senate awaits action in committee.