On Friday, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the Highway Bill, which will send millions of dollars back into fisheries management. It is believed President George Bush will sign the bill into law.
Among other things, the Highway Bill (Senate bill 1072) captures the remaining one-fourth of the tax on each gallon of motorboat fuel. Those funds, which are the final 4.8 cents of the 18.3 cents per gallon tax, will equal about an additional $110 million annually and will be earmarked for the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, authorized by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act.
The funds are allocated to the state fish and wildlife agencies for fisheries management and boating safety.
“BASS Conservation has been very active with the American Sport Fishing Association, angler groups, BASS founder Ray Scott, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and others in working to ensure passage of this important provision,” said Noreen Clough, BASS conservation director.
Policy initiatives include increased funding for recreational trails, new funding for signage identifying access for anglers and hunters and vital safety programs dealing with wildlife-vehicle collisions. It also ensures secure funding for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, established by Congress to grow the sport of fishing.
Supporters call it the most comprehensive package ever passed for outdoor enthusiasts.
“With its inclusion in the legislation, we take another critical step towards the successful resolution of this multi-year effort to ensure that all of the tax money spent by boaters and anglers on motorboat fuel flows back to the preservation and restoration of the waterways we treasure,” said Congressman Clay Shaw, an avid angler and member of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus.
Originally established in 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was amended in 1984 to include motorboat fuel taxes and small engine taxes. This amendment created the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, also known as Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund, named after the two sponsors of the amendment.
BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968. Coming in 2006 are an expanded Tour schedule to 11 events, three Majors tournaments and the Women’s Bassmaster Tour.