Last week, U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., introduced the “Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act.”
Almost 20 members of the U.S. House, including U.S. Reps. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., John Rutherford, R-Fla., and Donald McEachin, D-Va., are co-sponsoring the bill. Over in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., are championing the proposal.
“This bill would establish a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fund community-based programs that take minority youth on fishing trips to the ocean and Great Lakes,” Salazar’s office noted. “The legislation promotes equitable access to the nation’s wonderful outdoors by providing on-the-water experiences for young people that may be otherwise unattainable. It delivers the opportunity to interact directly with the marine environment, receive lessons in marine science, and encourage environmental stewardship. This initiative would provide experiences that set the participants on a path towards continued participation in outdoor recreation.”
Salazar and other backers weighed in on the proposal last week.
“As someone who knows and recognizes the bounties of the marine and aquatic environment, I am pleased to provide younger generations of Americans across the country, especially minority Americans, the opportunity to learn firsthand about our seas, oceans and lakes, as well as provide them with the tools to enjoy them,” said Salazar.
“Too many young Americans face serious financial, social, and geographic barriers to experiencing our outdoors,” said McEachin. “No child should be unable to participate in outdoor recreation simply because of their socioeconomic status or zip code. The bipartisan Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act will provide our youth, especially those in historically underserved communities, with new opportunities to get outside, cultivate a love and appreciation for fishing, and learn more about marine science and conservation.”
“More of our children should be fishing,” Wicker said. “My Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act would get more young anglers, particularly in underserved communities, out on the water enjoying this pastime.”
“Fishing is one of our favorite pastimes in the Pacific Northwest, and our bill will support Washington state organizations that take kids fishing in their local coastal waters, rivers, and bays,” Cantwell said. “This bill will help more kids get the tools, gear, and support they need to experience the outdoors and the benefits that come with it.”
The bill has the support of the American Sportfishing Association.
Salazar’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Wicker’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
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