U.S. Senate passes key recreational fishing legislation

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent America's Conservation Enhancement (ACE) Act (S.3051), which includes several wins for the recreational fishing industry.

“Many of us grew up fishing with our friends and family and these memories are what help drive a bipartisan consensus on good conservation policy in Congress,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “Last night, the entire U.S. Senate came together to support recreational fishing and natural resource conservation with unanimous passage of the ACE Act. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) were instrumental in moving this historic legislative package one step closer to reality.”

Leonard further said, “The ACE Act supports a wide range of fish and wildlife conservation policies, including the National Fish Habitat Partnership authorization as well as the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay restoration programs. Enactment of this legislation would be a tremendous win for the recreational fishing community. We urge the House of Representatives to swiftly pass this broadly-supported legislation as it currently stands.”

The ACE Act includes several top priorities for the recreational fishing industry, including: 

  • Lead fishing tackle protections: Lead fishing tackle, which is commonly used in nearly all forms of fishing and poses no national threat to wildlife populations or human health, would be exempted from unwarranted federal regulations and bans.
  • National Fish Habitat Partnership program authorization: This is a state- and locally-driven conservation initiative that funds on-the-ground fish habitat restoration projects which would benefit recreational fishing opportunities. Federally authorizing this program with key policy improvements will help make sure of the program’s future success.
  • Chesapeake Bay restoration and conservation: Conservation and restoration programs to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are included in the bipartisan ACE Act. 
  • Great Lakes research and assessment: The Great Lakes-focused provision in the legislation will help support fisheries data collection in the Great Lakes. It also authorizes the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct biological assessments needed for conserving and maintaining the Great Lakes’ $7 billion fishery. 

This bipartisan legislation is supported by ASA, which encouraged the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) to quickly introduce and consider the ACE Act last December in a letter sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member. The ACE Act will now go to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.