Sportfishing Industry Testifies Before U.S. Senate

American Sportfishing Association (ASA) Vice President Gordon Robertson testified before the United States Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works' Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife about the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA)."ASA greatly appreciates the opportunity to provide testimony on S. 1214," Robertson said. "Despite the current economic challenges that our country faces, we believe that our country must take decisive action now to commit to conserving our invaluable fisheries resources. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act provides the necessary investment in fish habitat to continue supplying quality recreational fishing opportunities to the people and businesses that depend on them."The NFHCA would establish a comprehensive national framework for conserving, restoring and enhancing fish habitats throughout the United States. Modeled on the successful Migratory Bird Joint Ventures and North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Act will provide funding for fish habitat conservation, restoration and enhancement through regional partnerships that engage local partners in conservation action and provide a science-based and strategic approach to on-the-ground conservation efforts.Robertson further said "ASA believes it is necessary to have a robust national fish habitat conservation act that indentifies habitat needs and addresses them in a structured fashion that functions from the bottom up, is state centric and maximizes the available dollars, labor and expertise of a wide variety of partners. All of those points are embodied in S. 1214."According to ASA, this legislation would have a significant impact on improving fisheries across the country. While there are numerous efforts underway to address declining fishery health and habitat at the grassroots level, there is a need for conservation action on a range-wide scale for these efforts to be successful. The NFHCA would authorize the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to improve fish habitat. By restoring fish habitat and boosting fish populations, the NFHCA would improve fishing opportunities across the country, helping to ensure that individuals and their families and friends can get outside and enjoy our nation's aquatic resources.Robertson concluded, "By improving the health of aquatic habitat and enhancing fishing opportunities across the country, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act will help ensure that our [recreational fishing] tradition continues for generations to come. We look forward to working with the Chair and members of the Subcommittee on this very worthwhile and important legislation."A similar bill has been introduced to the House of Representatives (H.R. 2565). The Senate bill may be voted in a committee shortly. Both bills are not expected to come to a floor vote until 2010. ASA urges its members to support this bill by writing to their member of congress. The foundation for the NFHCA is the National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP). Robertson sits on the NFHAP Board.
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