A package of legislative provisions that will benefit recreational fishing and have a positive impact on natural resource conservation passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a substantial margin on February 26, 2016. Passage of H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, represents an important milestone for the recreational fishing community. The SHARE Act, also known as the Sportsmen’s Act, contains numerous provisions to improve public access to federal lands and guard against new regulations that threaten to limit access to fishing.
“Given all that is going on in the world of politics, for our nation’s sporting traditions to receive full consideration by the House of Representatives demonstrates that our Congressional leaders recognize the importance of recreational fishing and other outdoor activity to the nation,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “The Sportsmen’s Act is one of the recreational fishing industry’s top priorities, and we are thrilled to see it one step closer to being signed into law.”
Specific provisions in the SHARE Act that impact the recreational fishing community include:
• Protecting traditional fishing equipment containing lead from unwarranted federal bans
• Requiring federal land managers to support and facilitate access for outdoor recreation on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands
• Preventing closures to fishing and hunting on public lands by implementing an “open until closed” management policy
• Ensuring that state and territorial fisheries agencies have a rightful say in fisheries management decisions in their own waters.
“We are particularly pleased that Congress defeated a detrimental amendment to strike important language that safeguards against unwarranted fishing closures, such as what is happening at Biscayne National Park,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Ocean Resource Policy director.
With the Sportsmen’s Act having now passed the House of Representatives, the recreational fishing community turns its full attention to the Senate, where companion bills have cleared all committees of jurisdiction and now await action on the Senate floor.