AFS Applauds Sport Fish Restoration Reauthorization Advancing in Senate

July 22, 2020

Chairman Roger Wicker
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
512 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington DC, 20510

Ranking Member Maria Cantwell
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
420 A Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell:

Thank you for your leadership in introducing legislation to re-authorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF). The American Fisheries Society (AFS) strongly supports reauthorization of the program, a critical funding source for fisheries management, science, and aquatic conservation. We are pleased that legislation to re-authorize the program through 2024 passed the committee today.

AFS is the world’s oldest and largest professional society of fishery and aquatic scientists and managers. The Society seeks to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. AFS supports and promotes the use of best available science in policymaking.

The SFRBTF is the backbone of fisheries conservation in the U.S. Nearly $650 million is distributed annually to state fish and wildlife agencies for a wide variety of projects, including on-the-ground fisheries science and management, fish population assessment, habitat conservation and rehabilitation, fishing access projects, hatchery operations, aquatic education, and public outreach. Habitat conservation and rehabilitation funded through the Sport Fish Restoration program helps to safeguard clean water and ensure high quality outdoor recreation, benefitting fish populations and providing Americans with healthy activities out on the water at a time when re-connecting with nature is so important.

The benefits of this popular “user pays-public benefits” program are far reaching, directly supporting fish and wildlife conservation. This, in turn, enhances human health and well-being and supports an important component of our nation’s economy. Healthy fish and wildlife populations are critical to supporting the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy and its 6.1 million jobs. The 90 million people who participate in wildlife-related recreation alone spend $145 billion annually. The program has a long successful track record and AFS strongly supports re-authorization to ensure the quality of our fisheries and aquatic resources for future generations.

Moving forward, we must also look to additional sources of funding to fill the gap between fisheries conservation needs and the available funding. Increases in water temperature, lack of water in streams and rivers, poor water quality, invasive species, and habitat degradation have imperiled forty percent of all freshwater species and a changing climate means the situation will only get worse.

Thank you for your consideration. Please contact AFS Policy Director, Drue Winters at [email protected] if we can provide you with additional information.


Douglas J. Austen, Ph.D.
Executive Director, American Fisheries Society