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Senate committee approves fish habitat bill

Legislation designed to protect and improve recreational fishing habitat was approved by a Senate committee. The National Fish Habitat Conservation Act (S. 2080) was approved by the Senate Committee on Environment & Public works on Thursday, April 3.

The bill would create a National Fish Habitat Board that would establish goals and priorities for fish habitats and recommend partnership conservation projects for federal funding of projects that increase recreational fishing opportunities.

The bill would also set up a National Fish Habitat Conservation Partnership Program at the Division of Fish and Aquatic Conservation of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to provide the funding.

The bill would authorize an annual $7.2 million for projects plus another $1.5 million for technical and scientific assistance for five years.

The structure is based on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Bill sponsor Ben Cardin (D-MD) explained on the Senate floor that while many communities undertake conservation efforts, they're often not coordinated and the bill calls for federal, state, tribal and other partners to work together.

You can read the committee's announcement at www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Majority.PressReleases&Co....

And you can view the legislation at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c113:1:./temp/~c113U4IQI1:e2209:.