By Kayla Michael
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 (SFR) Program, which is managed by the U.S. 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, about $6.5 million supports saltwater projects such as fisheries research on species like seatrout and red drum, fish stock enhancement, artificial reefs and angler outreach and education programs including conducting fishing clinics and producing fishing related literature.
This cycle of success first began 75 years ago in 1937; since then SFR has worked to restore and safeguard sport fish populations and their habitats in all 50 states. The stories of success through this program are extensive. Though each state is responsible for managing their own funds, they regularly collaborate to improve and expand their SFR-funded programs. To learn more about nationwide efforts, visit WSFR75.com. For Florida-specific information, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing/SFR.
Thanks to this program, marine resources in Florida have reaped major benefits over the years and should have an even 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 catch a sport fish 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 thrive for future generations.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.