Anglers like you contribute over $600 million annually to state fishing and boating programs. These generous contributions are made possible through the Wallop-Breaux act which encompasses both the Sport Fish Restoration Act and the Recreational Boating Safety Program.
The Sport Fish Restoration Program was established in 1950 by the Dingell-Johnson Act with the support of the sportfishing industry, state and federal fish and wildlife agencies and anglers and boaters. The act established a 10 percent excise tax on certain fishing equipment to fund various projects designed to enhance sportfishing in all 50 states. The Recreational Boating Safety Program was established in 1971 to fund boating safety and education programs, and amended in 1980 to draw its funding from taxes on motorboat fuels. These programs were combined in 1984 under the Wallop-Breaux Act.
The Wallop-Breaux amendment expanded the 10 percent excise tax to nearly all sportfishing equipment and captured over half of the federal motorboat fuel taxes that were paid by boaters and anglers. This combination substantially increased the funds collected by the federal government to be returned to the states for fishing and boating-related projects such as sport fishery restoration, wetlands conservation, boat safety and boating access programs. In order to receive these federal dollars, state fish and wildlife agencies must dedicate all money raised from the sale of fishing licenses to fisheries conservation.
In 2005, Congress reauthorized the transfer of all motorboat and small engine fuel taxes to the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (SFRBTF), the current name of the program. Until then, only 13.5 cents of the 18.3 cents in federal fuel taxes on each gallon of gasoline used by recreational boats and small engines was being transferred from the Highway Transportation Fund to the SFRBTF. Anglers and boaters paying this tax finally received the full benefit of their tax payment investment.
Since its creation, the Sport Fish Restoration Act has been refined and expanded by Congress. It is unquestionably the most valuable federal legislation for anglers and fishery resources, delivering millions each year to state fishing and boating programs. This is the most important program for boating and angler access and fishery management in each state. It is also the core funding for each state’s sport fish restoration program.