December Policy Watch From the ASA

A look at some of the stories and actions from the month of November that affect the interest of the sportfishing and boating industries.

ASA President Glenn Hughes Talks Negative Impact of Proposed Speed Restrictions

Last month, ASA President Glenn Hughes was featured on Fox News discussing NOAA’s proposed vessel speed restrictions designed to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The report also includes commentary from National Marine Manufacturers Association’s President Frank Hugelmeyer, Center for Sportfishing Policy’s President Jeff Angers and BoatU.S. Foundation’s President Chris Edmonston, explaining the entire boating and sportfishing industry’s concerns regarding this potential regulation.

Omnibus Bill Passes, Includes Wins for Recreational Fishing

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed into law the omnibus spending bill to keep the U.S. government funded through most of 2023. The bill includes the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act; reforms to NOAA’s Fishery Disaster program; and increased funding for a wide range of fisheries management and research programs. Unfortunately, other ASA priorities like the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and America’s Outdoor Recreation Act were left out of the omnibus. For more on recreational fishing inclusions in the omnibus, read ASA’s blog.

Congress Passes National Defense Authorization Act

On December 23, 2022, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. The legislation contained the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes funding for water resource and infrastructure projects administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). This bill includes provisions to restore wetlands, update the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and establish a National Low-Head Dam Inventory. USACE is the nation’s leading provider for outdoor recreation opportunities and boating access points, making WRDA’s passage critical for funding projects that benefit anglers. To learn more about how recreational fishing benefits from NDAA’s passage, read ASA’s blog.

Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Bill Enacted

President Biden signed the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Reauthorization Act (GLFWRA) of 2022 (H.R. 5973) into law on December 27, 2022, after its passage in the U.S. Senate earlier in the month. The legislation cleared the House in 2021. GLFWRA reauthorizes $6 million annually through 2028 for research projects on fisheries and wildlife, along with habitat restoration projects. Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the enactment of this bill is vital for Great Lakes fisheries.

ASA Submits Comments on NOAA Fisheries Recreational Fisheries Policy

NOAA Fisheries is in the process of revising their 2015 National Policy for Saltwater Recreational Fisheries. The Policy communicates NOAA Fisheries’ goals and guiding principles when it comes to recreational fisheries issues. To assist the revision, ASA submitted comments. Among the recommendations, ASA notes the overarching disconnect between this robust policy and its implementation. You can view the full comment letter here.

NOAA Fisheries Recommends Fish Passage Projects 

NOAA Fisheries recommends funding 36 fish passage projects this year, which will cost $105 million. The agency further requests $61 million in future funding. Funds will come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and these projects will help restore habitat and migratory pathways, benefiting fish across the country.

Bristol Bay Update 

On December 1, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 office recommended that agency headquarters apply the Clean Water Act Section 404(c) to protect Bristol Bay. By vetoing the project, discharges into certain Bristol Bay waters would be prohibited, making it impossible for the proposed Pebble Mine project to move forward. The recommendation now awaits review and a final determination. In the meantime, an Alaska Native corporation, Pedro Bay Corp., voted in favor of buying three conservation easements that would protect 44,000 acres of land that Pebble Mine developers wanted. This is good news for the conservation of Bristol Bay’s iconic salmon fishery.

Massachusetts Establishes Office of Outdoor Recreation  

Massachusetts established an Office of Outdoor Recreation, becoming the 18th state to do so. This move recognizes the prominence of the $862 billion outdoor recreation economy. The economic output from recreational fishing alone in Massachusetts accounts for $831.5 million. The new office will collaborate with state agencies, the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership (MMP), and the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) to enhance outdoor recreational opportunities.

Invasive Black Carp Established in Mississippi River

A new study, co-authored by the U.S. Geological Survey, provided firm evidence that black carp, an invasive species, are able to reproduce, mature and survive into adulthood in the Mississippi and its tributaries. Once established, wild invasive species can be hard to eradicate, posing a huge threat to native species. ASA works with its partners to advocate for federal and state policy to prevent and mitigate the spread of aquatic invasive species, like black carp.

If there is an issue that you are concerned about or would like to discuss, please contact Mike Leonard by email or at (703) 519-9691 x 230.


The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the sportfishing and boating industries as well as the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry and anglers a unified voice when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring economic, conservation and social values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 55 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through Keep America Fishing, our national angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate nearly $50 billion in retail sales with a $125 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for 800,000 people.