AFFTA, through its Government Affairs & Alliances Committee, advocates on behalf of its members, keeping watch on legislation, regulations and policies that significantly affect our members’ business and the sport of fly-fishing itself.
The following report on government affairs activity was prepared for and shared at the IFTD show last week.
1. Transportation Bill – Jeff More, AFFTA’s Legislative Advocate, reports that there were two significant conservation victories in the Transportation Bill that was signed into law, full funding of the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act and the inclusion of the RESTORE Act. The Sportfish Restoration Trust Fund will provide several hundred million dollars for fish habitat, water quality improvement and boating access across the nation and the Restore Act will provide several billion dollars for habitat restoration along the Gulf Coast over the next decade.
2. Farm Bill – Critical water quality improvement measures were included in the Senate Passed Farm Bill. The Farm Bill faces some significant hurdles in the House. During meetings with senior staff on the House Ag Committee last week, Jeff was informed that water quality improvement language should be in the final Farm Bill that goes to the President.
3. Tax Incentive – Jeff has been exploring the prospects for legislation that establishes a Fly Fishing in the Schools Program that would provide a tax incentive for manufacturers that donate fly fishing equipment to schools.
Outreach, Education and Alliances
AFFTA representatives participated in the following efforts:
1. Protecting Bristol Bay – The watershed is home to world-class salmon runs and a treasured fishing destination. AFFTA Board Members, Jim Klug, Larry Barrett and Andrew Bennett attended and presented comments at a hearing held by the EPA in Seattle to gather public comments on its draft watershed assessment of Bristol Bay. AFFTA supports protections for Bristol Bay thru the 404c process of the Clean Water Act.
2. White House Blog – AFFTA was given the opportunity to write a guest post on the White House Blog. Ben’s post: Growing Our Economy Through the Great Outdoors highlighted the importance of the outdoor recreation economy and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The blog post has been widely circulated in the fly fishing and conservation communities.
3. Fishing, Hunting and Shooting Industry Op-Ed – The Denver Post ran an Op-Ed pointing out the importance of the outdoor recreation economy and the contributions the fishing and hunting industry makes to conservation and the economy. The Op-Ed ran under Ben’s by-line and was co-authored by Jay McAninch of the Archery Trade Association, Mike Nussman of the American Sport Fishing Association, Thom Dammrich of the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Steve Sanetti of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
4. National Fisheries Friends Partnership’s Policy Roundtable
NFFP was established to help unite leading conservation, industry, business, and water-based recreation groups in a unique coalition to create and successfully advance a shared national agenda to conserve aquatic life and their habitats. Tom Sadler, an NFFP Board member, chaired a policy roundtable meeting to develop a consensus agenda for aquatic resource conservation. The first meeting yielded draft set of issues. Future meetings will fine-tune the list. Ben is representing AFFTA on the NFFP Roundtable.
5. Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council’s Recommendations for Vision and Strategic Plan for USFWS Fisheries Program
In June the SFBPC began a process to make recommendations to the USFWS Fisheries program for updates to the program’s strategic plan. SFBPC created a steering committee of SFBPC members and stakeholder community leaders. Tom Sadler is representing AFFTA on the Steering Committee.
6. Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Recreation Coalition
OIA has been begun conversations on a new set of recreation policy asks that will garner the support of a broad and powerful recreation industry voice and is convening a group of industry leaders in DC to discuss this concept and define specific asks for the next administration and 113th Congress. Tom is representing AFFTA on the coalition.
7. Statements of Support
AFFTA adds the weight of its membership to advocacy efforts when they align with our mission. In 2012 we have added our voice to the following:
• Supporting the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act
• Supporting a strong Conservation Title in the Farm Bill
• Supporting water quality improvement provisions in the Farm Bill
• Supporting the Sportsmen’s Act as part of the Farm Bill.
• Comments on EPA’s Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment
• Statement of Support for the LWCF provision in the Senate Transportation bill.
• Supporting an amendment to the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to finalize and implement Clean Water Act guidance.
• Expressing appreciation for a hearing on H.R. 3365, the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization
• Supporting Sod Saver provisions in the House Farm Bill
• Supporting Sod Saver provisions in the Senate Farm Bill
• Supporting RESTORE Act and LWCF provisions in Highway Bill
• Supporting Farm Bill Conservation Title
• Opposing Legislation blocking EPA Guidance on CWA jurisdiction
• Supporting the recommendations of the National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that funds from penalties be dedicated to Gulf restoration and recovery.