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Public Statements

Freedom to Fish Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARR. Mr. Speaker, spring is upon us, a season that is important to several of Kentucky's signature industries. Not only does spring signify horse racing and the Kentucky Derby, but it also marks the beginning of the adventure and outdoor tourism season as well.

Tourism is an $11.7 billion signature industry in my State, employing over 166,000 Kentuckians and accounting for 1 in 10 jobs across the Commonwealth. A major part of Kentucky tourism stems from one of America's favorite pastimes--fishing.

In my district, the Kentucky River is enjoyed by many, many, as it stretches from the Daniel Boone National Forest and meanders through horse farms in the central Bluegrass, specifically in Woodford and Franklin Counties.

Fishermen especially enjoy fishing in the Kentucky River's tailwaters surrounding locks and dams, areas notorious for having an abundance of fish. Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers has decided to prohibit tailwater fishing in a sister river just south of my district, the Cumberland River, where many of my constituents travel to engage in their favorite pastime.

This is yet another example of government overreach, where this time the government is telling us how to fish in water systems that have been safely utilized for generations. We must not allow the Corps to set a precedent for regulating how Kentuckians and Americans alike spend their time outdoors.

As our fragile economy continues to recover, my constituents tell me that they plan on sticking closer to home to recreate this spring and summer. Overregulation of fishing is a deterrent to family time and harms our local businesses that depend on the revenue from seasonal recreation and tourism.

I ask my colleagues to join me in support of the Freedom to Fish Act, which places a 2-year moratorium on the Corps' plan to restrict access to tailwaters in the Cumberland River.


Mr. BARR. This will allow us time to implement a permanent plan to halt Army Corps from setting a precedent of restricting access to any tailwaters going forward.

I'm an original cosponsor of this legislation--and I applaud the leadership of Mr. Whitfield, my colleague from Kentucky--and that does exactly this: protect fishermen in rural economies and Americans' right to choose how they recreate.

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