Federal Legislation Introduced To Take Kids Fishing

The bill would provide opportunities for younger generations to connect with the marine environment

On June 7, 2023, U.S. Reps. Maria Salazar (R-Fla.) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.) and Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Youth Coastal Fisheries Program Act of 2023.

The bill would create a grant program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for projects that take children fishing in the ocean or the Great Lakes, with priority given to projects that serve underserved communities. This legislation is in keeping with the goal of the American Game Fishing Association (ASA) to introduce new anglers, particularly youth, to recreational fishing.

“Recreational fishing provides substantial physical and mental health benefits, but unfortunately many youth, particularly in underserved communities, face significant barriers to accessing the outdoors.” said Mike Leonard, vice president of Government Affairs for the American Game Fishing Association. “The grants provided through this bill will go a long way in removing those barriers and help children develop a love of fishing. We thank Representatives Salazar and Kamlager-Dove and Senators Wicker and Cantwell for their work on the Youth Inshore Fishing Program Act and are excited about the generations of new anglers it will help create.”

“As someone who knows and recognizes the importance of the marine and aquatic environment, it is critical to give younger generations of Americans across the country, especially minority Americans, the opportunity to learn firsthand about our seas, oceans, lakes and the outdoors, as well as providing them with the tools to enjoy them”, said Rep. Salazar.

“Our nation is home to beautiful rivers, oceans, and lakes. As we prepare to commemorate World Oceans Day, I am proud to carry on the legacy of the late Congressman Donald McEachin by reintroducing the Youth Inshore Fishing Program Act with Congresswoman Salazar and Senators Wicker and Cantwell to educate our youth about different marine environments, as well as vital conservation measures we must take to combat the climate crisis.” Kamlager-Dove said. “It is especially important that historically disadvantaged youth have opportunities to learn about aquatic life and marine science to spark their curiosity in these fields. Ensuring that our nation’s children have rich and diverse educational experiences allows them to fully embrace their environment and thrive as students and individuals.”

“We should encourage young Americans to get involved in fishing,” He said wicker. “Our legislation will help remove barriers to accessing the outdoors and ensure that more young anglers, especially those in underserved communities, have the opportunity to enjoy this beloved hobby.”

“Fishing is one of our favorite pastimes in the Pacific Northwest, and our bill will support Washington State organizations that take kids fishing in their local coastal waters, rivers and bays.” Cantwell said. “This bill will help more kids get the tools, equipment, and support they need to experience the outdoors and the benefits that come with it.”

The bill provides $2 million in grants over each of the next five years for projects that include a youth recreational fishing experience, offer marine science and conservation education, and provide information on where or how to fish. While other federal land management agencies, such as the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service, have dedicated programs to connect the public with nature, no such recreation program exists within NOAA Fisheries, which manages federal marine fisheries. .

A brochure on the bill can be found here, the text of the bill can be found here, and a letter of support signed by 21 organizations can be found here. ASA encourages its members to visit our Keep America Fishing action alert to contact their members of Congress and ask them to support the bill.

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The American Sport Fishing Association (ASA) is the trade association for the sport fishing industry committed to representing the interests of the sport fishing and boating industries, as well as the entire sport fishing community. We provide the industry and anglers with a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect the sport fishing business or sport fishing itself. ASA invests in companies for the long term to ensure the industry remains strong and prosperous, as well as to safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation, and social values ​​of America’s sport fishing. ASA also gives America’s 55 million fishermen a voice in political decisions that affect their ability to fish sustainably in our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national fisherman advocacy campaign. America’s fishermen generate more than $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating jobs for 825,000 people.