The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Association) applauds the House of Representatives for passing the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Reauthorization Act (WILD Act, HR 5009) and the Supporting the Health of Aquatic Systems through Research, Knowledge, and Enhanced Dialogue Act (SHARKED Act, H.R. 4051). On February 5, the full House passed both bills by unanimous vote.
“We thank all members of the House for their commitment to furthering conservation partnerships,” said Chuck Sykes, Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries and President of the Association. “Final passage and enactment of these bills is critical to ensuring state agencies can maximize their limited resources with the strength of federal, tribal, NGO, and industry partners.”
Once enacted, the WILD Act will reauthorize the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners Program), which has enabled restoration of more than six million acres of habitat since its inception in 1987.
“We thank Representatives Dingell (D-MI) and Joyce (R-OH) for championing reauthorization of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program,” said Shannon Lott, Natural Resources Deputy Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Here in Michigan, the program makes projects like the restoration of Riverbend West a reality, ensuring that the benefits of nature are more equitable and accessible for all members of the public to enjoy.”
The WILD Act will also the reauthorize the Multinational Species Conservation Funds, which helps conserve some of the world’s most iconic species, while the SHARKED Act will direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish a task force bringing together Regional Fishery Management Councils, Marine Fisheries Commissions, the National Marine Fisheries Service, coastal state fish and wildlife agencies, and other experts to identify and address shark depredation needs.
“Florida has been leading the nation in shark conservation through management for decades, and in recent years, recreational anglers have reported an increased loss of their catch due to sharks,” said Roger Young, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Shark depredation is not just an issue that affects recreational anglers and their families; it threatens the livelihoods of Florida’s fishing guides and commercial fishermen, impacts Florida’s economy and marine ecosystems, and puts sharks and anglers at risk. We thank Representatives Wittman (R-VA), Soto (D-FL), Graves (R-LA), and Veasey (D-TX) for their leadership in addressing this important issue.”
The Association urges expedited passage by the Senate and enactment of H.R. 5009 and H.R. 4051, made all the more critical with the current authorization of the Partners Program and Multinational Species Conservation Funds having already expired.
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies—the organization that represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies—promotes sound resource management and conservation, and speaks on important fish and wildlife issues. Found on the web at www.fishwildlife.org, on Facebook /AssociationofFishandWildlifeAgencies and on Twitter @fishwildlife.
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