Recreational Fishing and Boating Groups Urge Congress to Increase Everglades Restoration Funding
American Sportfishing Association and Keep Florida Fishing Lead Letter Signed by 19 Organizations
(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) – In a letter sent to members of Congress, recreational fishing and boating groups, led by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and Keep Florida Fishing, expressed strong support for increased federal funding of Everglades restoration projects that have been authorized by Congress, including the Central Everglades Planning Project, Tamiami Trail bridging and Herbert Hoover Dike repairs.
The letter, dated June 23, highlighted the need to restore the historic southerly flow of clean water from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, stating that it’s “critical to ensure public safety, maintain proper salinity in the Bay and to reduce the necessity for, and the frequency of, releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.”
“While the state of Florida has appropriated its share of the 50/50 cost share agreement for Everglades restoration funding, the federal government is approximately $1 billion behind the state in its financial commitment, slowing the completion of these important projects. We urge Congress to provide increased funding for Everglades restoration so that future generations will also be able to enjoy Florida’s treasured natural resources,” said Kellie Ralston, Florida Fishery Policy Director of the American Sportfishing Association.
“Large releases from Lake Okeechobee like those in 2016 threaten the health of our fisheries, making Everglades restoration a top priority for the recreational fishing and boating industries. Immediate action is needed at the federal level to protect our waters and help maintain Florida’s role as the Fishing Capital of the World,” said Gary Jennings, Director of Keep Florida Fishing.
The letter was also signed by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.), Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), Captains for Clean Water, Center for Sportfishing Policy (CSP), Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF), Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF), International Game Fish Association (IGFA), Marine Industries Association of Florida (MIAF), Marine Retailers Association of the Americas (MRAA), National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA), Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), Snook and Gamefish Foundation (SGF), and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP).
The letter was sent to the Chair and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate and House Committees on Appropriations; U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development; and the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies.
Florida has more than 3 million anglers who generate $9.6 billion in economic impact, support more than 128,000 jobs and contribute $53.3 million to state conservation efforts through license fees and special taxes on motor boat fuel and equipment.