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Sport Fish Restoration Program

Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Fund

Each year, more than a million anglers take to New York's waters in the hopes of catching one or more of the state's wide diversity of fish species. Trout, salmon, largemouth and smallmouth bass, pike, walleye, muskellunge, catfish, panfish, striped bass, bluefish, scup, black seabass, flounders and weakfish are just a few of the fish species found here.

Freshwater anglers annually take about 21 million fishing trips and spend $1.5 billion pursuing this sport. Saltwater anglers annually take about four million trips and spend more than one billion dollars.

Sport Fish Restoration Logo

Ensuring that these tremendous resources are available for today's, as well as tomorrow's, anglers to enjoy requires a substantial investment of effort and money. A good portion of this money comes from the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Fund.

What is the Federal Restoration Fund?

The Federal Sport Fish Restoration Fund was created in 1950 when the United States Congress passed the Dingell-Johnson (or D-J) Act. This act created a special fund derived from a ten percent federal excise tax, paid by the manufacturer, on fishing rods, reels, creels, artificial lures, baits and flies.

In 1984, Congress significantly enhanced the Sport Fish Restoration Fund by passing the Wallop-Breaux Amendment to the original Act. The legislation expanded the basic D-J funds by including new items not previously taxed and allocating a portion of the Highway Trust Fund Fuel Tax to expand contributions by boaters. In 1998, the Wallop-Breaux Amendment was reauthorized.

The fund is administered by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a grant-in-aid program to state fish and wildlife agencies. Monies are to be used by the states for sport fish management, development, research and restoration.

Some provisions of the current Wallop-Breaux Amendment include: a requirement that 15 percent of the state's total apportionment be spent on boating access; an option for states to use up to 15 percent of the total for aquatic resources education; and a requirement for equitable allocation of the monies between saltwater and freshwater projects based on the proportion of freshwater to saltwater resident anglers in that state. The saltwater allocation is managed by DEC's Bureau of Marine Resources. The freshwater program is managed by the Bureau of Fisheries.

How Are The Monies Used?

Fund distributions are nationally apportioned among all 50 states based on each state's number of fishing license holders and the land area of the state. Upon completion of approved work, states are reimbursed from the fund for up to 75 percent of the project costs.

In New York State, Federal Sport Fish Restoration Funds are woven through virtually every aspect of DEC's total fisheries program. In the freshwater fishery program, Wallop-Breaux funds account for almost 30 percent of the total expenditures and are essential in providing a balanced statewide fishery management program. In the marine program, Federal Sport Fish Restoration Funds account for a substantial portion of the expenditures, enabling DEC to properly manage the vast marine and coastal fisheries resources. Without such federal support, it is doubtful that New York State could sustain the level of angling use and quality enjoyed today.

Funded Work in New York State

The following are several examples of program areas and specific projects funded by Sport Fishing Restoration Dollars.

Sport Fishery Management- Studying and collecting data on New York State's fish populations and fish habitat in order to make sound biological management decisions. Work includes:

  • managing a data base that includes over 69,000 surveys conducted since 1926 of the state's more than 4000 lakes and ponds;
  • collecting data by the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario fishery units for management of these Great Lakes sport fisheries that contribute almost $500 million annually to the state's economy;
  • annually restoring native brook trout angling to 6-10 ponds through the use of lime to neutralize acid precipitation and chemicals to eliminate nuisance fish species;
  • collecting data by the Hudson River Fish Management Unit and the Marine Resources Anadromous Unit on key species, such as American shad, river herring and striped bass, and developing and implementing interstate fishery management plans for anadromous fish species through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission;
  • ecological data collection by Cornell University for determining management of warmwater fishes;
  • through a statewide creel survey, determine angler catch rates, size of fish caught, and angler use patterns;
  • collecting data by the Marine Fisheries Unit on key marine fish species such as weakfish, scup, black seabass, tautog and summer and winter flounder; and
  • developing and implementing interstate fishery management plans for migratory marine fish species such as bluefish, weakfish, scup, black sea bass, tautog, and summer and winter flounder through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Aquatic Education- Teaching New York State's youth aquatic ecology, fishery biology, and angling skills to instill in them an appreciation for the state's aquatic resources and the diverse fishing opportunities that they provide.

Sport Fishery Research- Studying New York's fish populations and habitat for making sound biological management decisions. Current research includes:

  • studying the population dynamics, habitat utilization, and migration patterns of St. Lawrence River muskellunge; and
  • evaluating the impacts of interstate regulations on marine migratory species.

Fishing and Boating Access- Performing annual maintenance on the agency's inland waterway access network of 155 public boat access sites that assures the public the chance to enjoy 100 waters across the state.

Federal monies also provide the engineering design for necessary updating of existing facilities, as well as the design of new facilities.

Work in the marine and coastal district includes the planning and development of artificial reefs, boat ramps and fishing piers for marine waterway access.

Freshwater Habitat Protection- This year, DEC ecologists and biologists will process, review, study, analyze, modify and negotiate over 6000 permit applications to alter fish and wildlife habitat. Their effort will mitigate or prevent permanent damage to these habitats which support our fish and wildlife populations.

Marine Habitat Protection- To protect and manage tidal wetlands, adjacent areas and estuaries, DEC marine resources specialists and technicians are involved in a number of activities, including:

  • management efforts to enhance and restore tidal wetlands, such as those impacted by fills, oil spills and inactive hazardous waste sites;
  • participating in the development and implementation of estuary management plans to preserve and restore the integrity and functioning of New York State's estuaries (Long Island Sound, New York/New Jersey Harbor; Hudson River; Peconic Bay; South Shore bays); and
  • the review and processing of tidal permit applications in order to prevent or lessen possible detrimental impacts of proposed projects. Over the last few years, approximately 6000 applications have been received and processed.

Thank You

The projects and programs explained here were made possible because of support from anglers, boaters, industry and legislators. New York State thanks: anglers and boaters for contributing their dollars; industry for collecting the monies; and legislators for supporting the legislation that dedicates this money.

For More Information

To find out more about how New York's fisheries programs use Sport Fish Restoration Funds, contact:

  • For Freshwater Fisheries-- NYSDEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753
  • For Marine Fisheries-- NYSDEC, Bureau of Marine Resources, 205 Belle Meade Road, East Setauket, NY 11733

  • Contact for this Page
  • NYSDEC
    Bureau of Fisheries
    625 Broadway
    Albany. NY 12233
    518-402-8924
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