Angler Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation: The Future of Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation

Chapter 14. Innovative Funding Strategies to Support Fisheries Conservation

Rebecca M. Krogman, Timothy Birdsong, Brian Bohnsack, Ramon Martin, and Jenifer Wical

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874738.ch14

Fish and wildlife agencies are at a critical juncture in their ability to maintain fiscal stability to support operational effectiveness in conserving fish and wildlife and providing related outdoor recreation opportunities given current funding systems. In the United States, for example, for over 80 years, funding for state fish and wildlife conservation programs has been primarily reliant upon revenues generated from the purchase of state fishing and hunting licenses leveraged against federal funding appropriated through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR). Funding for fisheries was established in 1950 through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (also known as the Dingell–Johnson Act) and significantly expanded in 1984 through the Wallop–Breaux Amendment (see Deficit Reduction Act of 1984), drawing dedicated funding from excise taxes on fishing equipment, importation duties, a portion of the federal fuel tax, and interest (see Chapter 1).

This funding model, known as the American System of Conservation Funding (ASCF; King 2018), is commonly referred to as a “user pay–public benefit” model. The ASCF facilitated a litany of high-profile and impactful conservation success stories for fish and wildlife species and habitats (see Chapter 1). Many of those success stories were profiled in association with the 50th anniversary of the WSFR (see various articles in Rassam et al. 2000) and, more recently, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary (USFWS 2012). Although no other nation has successfully enacted a similar approach, it has been widely recommended and considered (Bohnsack and Sousa 1997, 2000). In this chapter, we will continue to focus on the United States as a case study to explore future funding opportunities but recognize that many countries are facing similar challenges.