Anglers pay and anglers benefit

WASHINGTON — Your purchase of fishing tackle and motorboat fuel last year generated roughly $398 million for fisheries management programs nationwide.

"Most anglers have no idea what Wallop-Breaux means to their fisheries," said Chris Horton, national conservation director for BASS.

"They assume that their license dollars are more than enough to support the state agencies' efforts to produce fish, improve habitat and manage sportfish populations. The truth is without the Sport Fish Restoration funds, the states would have less than half the resources they currently have to keep our fisheries healthy. Without Wallop-Breaux, we wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy the fishing that we have today."

Wallop-Breaux pays up to 75 percent of the cost of eligible projects, with the qualifying state paying the remaining 25 percent. The money, which is collected through excise taxes on fishing-related products, is used for acquiring and improving habitat, constructing and maintaining ramps and access areas, conducting research, providing aquatic education and stocking fish.

During its more than 50 years, the federal program has allowed states to stock more than 6.5 billion fish, educate more than 11.3 million people, develop 2,600 boating facilities, renovate 6,200 access sites and acquire 351,000 acres. It has also supported the operation and maintenance of more than 15.5 million acres.

"The Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund continues to be the most important legislation to the sportfishing community by virtue of the funding it delivers and the protection it affords to state fishery program funding sources in these challenging financial times," said Gordon Robertson of the American Sportfishing Association.

"As we move toward reauthorization in 2009, the boating and fishing community needs to be mindful of the pressures that the current economic slowdown will have on both revenues and any trust fund that holds significant dollars for dedicated purposes."

During reauthorization years in the past, some members of Congress have cast envious eyes at those hundreds of millions of earmarked dollars, hoping to "redirect" some of them to purposes not related to fisheries.

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