Sport Fish Restoration – Everyone Wins

It's hard to imagine that tax originally levied to aid in financing World War II would eventually help ensure an angler's chance of catching a stringer of game fish anywhere in the United States. In fact, nothing in the past 100 years has had a bigger impact on recreational fishing than this war tax on fishing tackle which, in 1950, became the first ever dedicated federal source of money to be used by state natural resources agencies to improve the fishing experience. The result is one of the largest and most successful conservation programs in the world.

The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) Program has had a major impact on sport fishing nationwide. Since its enactment in 1950, state fish and wildlife agencies have received more than $3.2 billion under the program. The tax monies collected (PDF) go to state fish and wildlife agencies for fisheries research, habitat improvement, aquatic education and fishing and boating access facilities such as docks and ramps.

It's all made possible by sportsmen and women who, by doing the things they love - fishing and boating - help to restore and protect fish and their habitats in each state in this country. The purchase of fishing equipment and motor boat fuels by fishing and boating enthusiasts supports sportfish restoration, preservation and conservation. By taxing anglers, it gives them a stake in ensuring the money is used wisely. This forms the basis of the user pay/user benefit "cycle of success".

According to a 1999 survey, most fishing and boating enthusiasts don't know much about the Sport Fish Restoration Program, but they strongly support and defend the program once they are made aware of the benefits it brings to sport fish conservation efforts in the United States (Responsive Management 1999a). In fact, once informed about how the funding works, more than 75 percent of those polled voiced their overall support of the program.

Many regard it as "their program" and expressed a sense of responsibility, pride and ownership. The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program unites the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state fish and wildlife agencies, the fishing tackle and boating industries, and anglers and boaters in a partnership that has achieved results for over 50 years. Working together, these groups have accomplished what none could do alone - restore our precious natural heritage.