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Old 03-28-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
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March 24, 2011

Congressional Budget Cuts Put Recreational Fishing Programs at Risk

For more information, contact Gordon Robertson, vice president and Government Affairs lead, 703-519-9691 x237, or Alyssa Hausman, ASA Policy Fellow, x244.

Members of Congress are determined to reduce the federal debt with some of our nation’s most essential and effective fisheries management and conservation programs bearing the brunt of their budget-cutting efforts. Our Members of Congress need to hear from the sportfishing industry that fishery conservation and management programs should not disproportionately bear the burden of trying to reduce the federal deficit.

The Situation
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution Appropriations Bill, H.R. 1, to address the federal budget for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. The bill, which is currently being considered in the Senate, contains significant funding cuts for fisheries management and conservation programs that will impact the viability our industry and the ability of our nation’s anglers to go fishing with family and friends.

Although we must address the federal deficit, the American Sportfishing Association believes the programs that support recreational fishing will bear an unfair and disproportionate burden of the budget reductions under H.R.1. In addition, most of these fishery programs are chronically underfunded.

Many of the fishery and water conservation programs slated for cuts or elimination in H.R.1 are matched with state and local funding providing a significant return on federal dollar investment. In addition, our industry willingly pays excise taxes on sportfishing equipment because we understand that these monies are put towards important and successful fishery conservation programs. H.R. 1, as written, will undermine the efforts of the sportfishing community and its partners to ensure that our fisheries remain healthy and abundant.

Below are just a few of the successful programs slated for budget cuts under H.R. 1:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Community Restoration Program – Under H.R.1 this successful grant program for marine and estuarine habitat restoration would be eliminated. The funds are matched fivefold by state and local funds and generate hundreds of volunteer hours to restore critical fish and other aquatic habitat.

National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) – Significant reductions in the funding of NFHAP will undermine habitat and water conservation through state and local partnerships as well as the long term investment that the recreational fishing community has made in the future of fisheries.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Data Collection Efforts – The marine sportfishing industry has already seen significant downturns with the closure of several healthy fisheries as result of the agency’s inability to collect timely data; excessive cuts in funding for fisheries science and data collection will only amplify these problems.

North American Wetlands Conservation Fund – Considered the gold standard for conservation programs, all funding for this long-standing wetland conservation program will be cut by H.R.1, undermining important wetland conservation projects that protect essential habitat for waterfowl and sportfish.

Act Now!
Please send a letter to your Members of Congress today to ensure that fisheries management and conservation continues its success in the future. It is important that industry members send comments!

ASA encourages you to FAX a letter to your Members of Congress on your company letterhead in opposition to these budget cuts. A template message is included below for your reference. Please be sure to include specific information on your company. You can find your legislators’ FAX numbers by going to ASA’s Legislative Action Center and entering your zip code.

You may also click here to send your message electronically.

SAMPLE MESSAGE FOR YOUR COMPANY LETTERHEAD

Dear Senator/Representative ______:

As a member of the sportfishing industry, I am writing to request that you address several components of H.R. 1, the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution Appropriations Bill.

My company, ________, is located in __________ and employs ___ people. H.R.1 will underfund or eliminate funding for invaluable fisheries management and conservation programs that are vital to sustaining recreational fishing on our nation’s waterways, having a significant impact on the viability of the sportfishing industry and the ability of our nation’s anglers to go fishing.

While I understand the need to address the budget deficit, many valuable and proven fisheries conservation and management programs will bear an unfair and disproportionate burden of the federal budget reductions.

H.R. 1 contains funding cuts that will severely limit recreational fishing opportunity and seriously damage the sportfishing industry that depends on healthy and accessible fishery resources. Sportfishing in the U.S. supports over one million jobs and pays more than $16 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

H.R. 1 budget cuts will severely impact and undermine recent management successes and conservation achievements, let alone areas that need funding to recover from man-made and natural disasters such as the Gulf Coast area and the Great Lakes region. Among these proposed cuts are significant reductions or elimination of funding for programs such as the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The sportfishing industry willingly pays some $115 million in federal excise taxes each year because we understand that these monies are put towards important and successful fishery conservation programs. As written, H.R. 1 will undermine the efforts of the sportfishing community and its partners to ensure that our fisheries remain healthy and abundant.

Healthy waterways and robust fish populations are vital to the well
being of our society and economy, providing recreational enjoyment for millions and supporting the tax base and jobs of many local communities. As a member of the sportfishing industry, I respectfully request that you support efforts to restore fishery conservation and management funding to reflect a proportional share among all of the necessary budget reductions prior to the passage of the Continuing Resolution Appropriations Bill.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,
_________
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