December 17, 2019
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) applauds the passage of the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act (H.R. 1747). This bipartisan legislation, led by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), was packaged with the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act (H.R. 729) and passed in the House by a floor vote of 262-151 on December 10.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to proactively invest in fisheries conservation priorities and funds important on-the-ground habitat restoration projects. This legislation would codify and authorize funding for the National Fish Habitat Partnership and its 20 regionally based partnerships, which are working to protect, restore and enhance fish habitat through locally and state-led conservation efforts across the country. The program is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The Association greatly appreciates the House leadership in passing this important legislation that will help ensure future generations can enjoy abundant and healthy fisheries for years to come,” said Secretary Kelly Hepler of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “This important legislation will help states and local communities with the management and conservation of fish and fish habitats that also bolster our great outdoor recreation economy.”
Last March, the National Fish Habitat Through Partnership Act was introduced in both the House and Senate with the support of states, conservation organizations, and the recreational fishing community. In September, the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act was passed favorably out of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Since 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has supported 935 projects benefiting fish habitat in all 50 states. In 2019 alone, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, provided more than $18 million to support 83 fish habitat conservation projects in 34 states.
AFWA and the National Fish Habitat Partnership Program:
The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is an unprecedented attempt to address an unseen crisis for fish nationwide: loss and degradation of their watery homes. The plan was born in 2001 when an ad hoc group supported by the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council explored the notion of developing a partnership effort for fish on the scale of what was done for waterfowl in the 1980s through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The waterfowl plan has worked wonders during the past two decades to boost waterfowl populations by forming strong local and regional partnerships to protect critical habitats. AFWA supports staffing for the National Fish Habitat Partnership and also has membership on the Executive Leadership Team of the Board. In addition, the National Fish Habitat Board includes members from states and regional AFWA Associations.
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.