WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) Chairman of the Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) lauded the voice vote approval today in the Environment and Public Works Committee of The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (NFHCA) authorizes $7.2 million annually for fish habitat restoration and protection projects that are supported by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships. The bill leverages public-private partnerships and engage stakeholders like commercial fisherman, anglers, outfitters and other angling and sportsmen industries to make lasting improvements to the health and sustainability of our nation’s fish habitats.
“Choosing to protect our natural resources is good for our environment and our economy. We need deliberate and targeted action to stem the loss of our precious fisheries resources and millions of related jobs, by ensuring that these important aquatic habitats are better preserved,” said Senator Cardin. “Our bill takes a comprehensive approach to stopping the single greatest cause of declining fish populations, by stemming the decline of healthy aquatic ecosystems that are critical to all fish species. We need to encourage healthier habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife as well as safer recreational waters for Americans to swim, boat and fish.”
“One of the greatest benefits of collaboration is that it enables the achievement of win-win solutions fostered through consensus-driven discussions among all impacted stakeholders,” said Senator Crapo. By creating partnerships between federal, regional and local stakeholders, our bill will help protect and preserve the nearly 700 native fish species throughout North America, much in the same way strong conservation measures have been put in place to enhance our natural resources and environment. Water is one of our greatest resources. Access to clean abundant water with a healthy fish habitat is fundamental to our economic well-being and critical to a community’s economic development and quality of life.”
According to the most recent data available from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, in 2011, more than 90 million U.S. residents – 40 percent of all those over age 16 – participated in wildlife-related activities, including fishing, hunting and wildlife watching. These recreationists spent over $145 billion pursuing these activities, contributing to millions of jobs in industries and businesses that support wildlife-related recreation.
North America is home to nearly 700 native fish species. This abundance of fish species is one of many natural treasures we must work to protect and maintain. Much like other precious natural resources in this country our wild fish populations face unfortunate anthropogenic threats. Forty percent of our native fish populations are in decline. This is due in large part to the impairment of more than half of our nation’s waters including the Chesapeake Bay. Deliberate and targeted action is needed to stem the loss of our precious fish resources by ensuring that these important aquatic habitats are better preserved.
State, federal and private efforts to address this challenge of improving and protecting critical fish habitat are underway in many states and in local communities. However, too many of these efforts are uncoordinated with one another which is leading to fragmented and less effective results than if these efforts carried out in a more networked and comprehensive fashion.
Under the National Fish Habitat Conservation Act, Federal Government agencies will work in careful coordination with state and local governments, as well as stakeholder organizations and industries like conservation groups, fisherman, and companies in the outdoor recreation industry to collaboratively execute the scientifically most effective fish and aquatic habitat conservation projects possible.
The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act is supported by the American Sportfishing Association, The Conservation Fund, Trout Unlimited, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies.