The post-World War II years saw an explosion in the number of anglers. To accommodate the need for healthy and abundant fish, the sportfishing industry began promoting recreational fisheries conservation and the advancement of fisheries science and management.
With the support of the tackle industry, the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) Program was established in 1950 by the Dingell-Johnson Act, using a 10 percent excise tax on sportfishing equipment to fund various projects designed to enhance sportfishing in all 50 states. In 1984, the SFR program and the Recreational Boating Safety Program which drew its funding from taxes on motorboat fuels were combined to create the Wallop-Breaux program. Funds for sportfish restoration from the Trust Fund are apportioned to the state fish and wildlife agencies based on license sales and water area.
In FY 2016, the fund, renamed the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, had $628 million in revenues, $349 million of which was apportioned to the 50 states specifically for sportfish restoration. From 1952 through 2017 state fish and wildlife/natural resource agencies have received more than $6 billion in funding through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund for fishery conservation and enhancement. In addition, fishing license sales generate nearly $709 million more in annual revenues for state conservation and education programs.
Ultimately, anglers, boaters and other sportsmen and women are the most significant funding sources for conservation and recreation in this country. Angler participation and the equipment and fishing licenses they purchase are crucial to conservation management in the United States. In fact, the U.S. model of fisheries conservation and management is the envy of countries around the globe.