KOHL INTRODUCES BILLS TO BOOST 'AQUATIC RESOURCES TRUST FUND' FOR FISHING & BOATING
Trust fund uses excise taxes collected on motorboat fuel and fishing equipment for angling and boating programs
U.S. Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Trent Lott (R-MS) today introduced legislation to restructure the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, which distributes federal funds to states for boating and fishing programs. The fund is a successful example of a "user pays, user benefits" program in which excise taxes collected on motorboat and small engine fuels and fishing equipment are devoted to activities like stocking fish, maintaining boating access areas, and boating safety education programs. The bill would consolidate the fund's receipts and distribute them according to a fairer formula supported by the American League of Anglers and Boaters. Lott and Kohl are co-chairs of the Senate Boating Caucus, a bipartisan group of Senators concerned with issues affecting boating, fishing, recreation and the marine industry.
"In Wisconsin, anglers and boaters are integral to the state's economy," Kohl said. "Our access to the Great Lakes is only a portion of what makes my state an excellent boating and fishing destination. From the Mississippi River to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin encompasses thousands of acres of lakes and rivers and is home to more than a million anglers."
Kohl and Lott also introduced a second bill that would recover approximately $110 million per year of excise taxes currently being paid by anglers and boaters. Under current law, only 13.5 cents is sent to the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, which is only a portion of the 18.3 cents that is collected on motorboat and small engine fuels. Restoring the remaining excise taxes will significantly boost funding for the important programs under the Sport Fish Restoration Act. In Wisconsin, this could amount to an additional $3 million annually for fishing and boating activities.
In Wisconsin, Aquatic Resource Trust Funds are used to construct and renovate boat landings on lakes and rivers, renovate and reconstruct the state's fish hatchery system, purchase Search & Rescue equipment, and improve technology for boating safety classes, among other projects.