Did you know that every time you purchase fishing equipment or fuel for your boat you’re contributing to fisheries conservation?
Even better, the small contribution you make with each purchase translates into millions of dollars toward sport fish restoration each year. In fact, with your help, Florida receives around $13 million every year to support both fresh and saltwater fisheries resources.
This cycle of money flow is all a part of the Sport Fish Restoration program, which is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Angler contributions are made through a 10% excise tax on fishing tackle and boating fuels. This money goes to a general federal fund and is later distributed to the states based on the number of resident licensed anglers as well as the land area of the state, including water territory. When the state receives the money it is required to make a 25% matching contribution to the grants. In Florida, the funds are managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the 25% matching contribution comes from recreational fishing license fees.
Of the total money received, 15% is specifically allotted to boating access improvement projects. This includes new land acquisition for construction of boat ramps as well as the maintenance of over 230 boat ramps statewide. About $6.5 million of the money goes towards saltwater projects, which supports programs such as fishing clinics, fisheries research, fish stock enhancement, artificial reefs, and angler outreach and education. A variety of publications are also produced, including boating and angling guides, fish identification posters, and Fishing Lines magazines. All of these and more are available to the public free of charge through Sport Fish Restoration, and can be viewed online or ordered by visiting MyFWC.com/Research/Publications.
Thanks to this program, marine resources in Florida may have a brighter future. Since Sport Fish Restoration money contributes to both marine research and angler education programs, fisheries are benefitted both directly and indirectly. So the next time you purchase fishing tackle or use a public boat ramp, remember that you helped to make it all happen. Thanks to angler contributions and stewardship of marine resources, sport fishing will endure for generations to come.