A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act of 2023. U.S. Representatives Maria Salazar (R-Fla.) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), and Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the legislation, as reported by Soundings Trade Only.
The bill would create a grant program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for projects that take children fishing in the ocean or Great Lakes, with priority given to underserved communities. The legislation is in line with the American Sportfishing Association’s goal of introducing new anglers. particularly children, to fishing.
The bill proposes $2 million in grants over each of the next five years for projects that include a fishing experience for youth, offer education about marine science and conservation, and provide information on where or how to fish. Other federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service, have dedicated programs to connect the public to nature. The new legislation would create the first of its kind within NOAA Fisheries.