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ASA hopeful over three new bills passing through Congress

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Watching closely: Scott Gudes, VP Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association.

Three new bills that are of critical importance to the tackle industry could pass into law in the USA this year. The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives last month and contains a number of issues important to anglers. These include measures to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior and the Forest Service from banning lead fishing tackle, with regulation passing to the states.

It also requires the National Park Service to get state approval before closing waters to fishing, as it did at Biscayne Bay, and to make fishing and hunting a priority in federal land management planning.

The Help for Wildlife Act, which was introduced in the Senate with strong bipartisan support, includes specific provisions for freshwater and saltwater anglers. The Act gives protection for traditional fishing tackle from unwarranted regulation by the EPA. It also authorises the National Fish Habitat Programme, along with various other important conservation programmes that will increase participation.

The Sportsmen’s Act was introduced in the US Senate earlier this year with the aim of helping angling longer term by ensuring federal lands are open to recreational fishing. The bill states that federal departments and agencies must facilitate the expansion and enhancement of non-commercial fishing on federal land.

Measures contained in the three bills cover many of the main points included in the original Sportsmen’s Act, which failed at the last hurdle in 2016. All three are out of committee and awaiting the opportunity for ‘floor time’ for debate and passage.

“Last Congress we were close to getting a Sportsmen’s Act passed, but somehow the House and Senate failed to reach a compromise,” said Scott Gudes, VP Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association. “Let us hope these bills move and this session of Congress is more successful.”

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