Home | Contact ST  
Follow ST

Capital Report


March 2014 Issue

Rockefeller, Thune Introduce Fish Preservation Bill
Sens. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced legislation to help preserve and restore fishing habitats for U.S. sport fishermen, while creating jobs in the recreation industry.

The Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2014 would direct funding to state agencies for support of fisheries management, habitat conservation, and boating safety programs. Wildlife recreation supports tens of thousands of jobs across the country. In West Virginia, for example, 1.2 million people spent $1.16 billion in 2011 on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching—money which directly supports local businesses and grows the economy. And in South Dakota, 662,000 people spent more than $966 million on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching.

'If we're going to pass on this tradition to our children and grandchildren, which is also an economic lifeline for so many, we need to keep our rivers, lakes, and streams pristine and safe,' said Rockefeller.

Rockefeller previously introduced the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2011.

Rockefeller and Thune's legislation also reauthorizes through fiscal year 2021 the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, which has benefitted millions of anglers and fishermen since 1950. The fund pools roughly $500 million annually in excise taxes on fishing equipment and boating fuel purchases, and allocates the funds on a formula basis to support state programs. In fiscal year 2013, West Virginia received more than $4.5 million, of which $3.6 million went to state sport fish and habitat conservation programs, and $900,000 went to state recreational boating safety and education. South Dakota received more than $5.2 million, of which $4.4 million went to state sport fish and habitat conservation programs, and $800,000 went to state recreational boating safety and education.

House Bill Supports US Coast Guard
The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 (H.R. 4005) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-W.V.), and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.).

The bipartisan legislation authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to carry out its vital missions, improves USCG mission effectiveness, helps replace and modernize aging Coast Guard assets in a cost-effective manner, enhances oversight, and reduces inefficiencies to save taxpayer dollars. Additionally, the bill strengthens U.S. maritime transportation, reduces regulatory burdens to create jobs and encourage economic growth, and improves U.S. competitiveness.

'The Coast Guard is a first line of defense against threats to our shores and this legislation reauthorizes the Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission in a responsible manner that reflects the current budget environment, while ensuring these agencies have the resources they need to successfully conduct their missions,' Hunter said.

The bill improves the effectiveness of Coast Guard missions by reducing inefficient operations and enhancing oversight, places the Coast Guard's major systems acquisition program on a sustainable track, and encourages job growth in the U.S. maritime industry by cutting regulatory burdens on job creation, according to Hunter.

Hunter Opens Hearing to Address Federal Navigation Efficiencies
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing on 'Finding Your Way: The Future of Federal Navigation Programs.'

In his opening statement, Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said that the maritime sector contributes more than $650 billion annually to the U.S. GDP and sustains more than 13 million jobs. Nearly 100 percent of U.S. overseas trade enters or leaves the U.S. by marine vessels.

'We rely on the navigation activities of the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA to provide for a safe, secure, and efficient marine transportation system that forms the backbone of our economy,' said Hunter.

He delineated the responsibilities of these federal bodies: NOAA is tasked with surveying and producing more than 1,000 nautical charts covering 95,000 miles of shoreline and 3.4 million square nautical miles of waters; the Corps is responsible for surveying and maintaining the depth of nearly 25,000 miles of federal navigation channels throughout the country; and the Coast Guard is charged with maintaining more than 50,000 federal government-owned buoys, beacons and other aids-to-navigation that mark 25,000 miles of waterways.

In fiscal year 2013, NOAA, the Corps, and the Coast Guard spent more than $2.5 billion to carry out these navigation missions. Hunter said he is interested in exploring ways to carry out these missions in a more cost-effective manner, including e-navigation.

US Maritime Administration Funds Marine Education via Vessel Sales
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration announced that America's six state maritime academies—California Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, SUNY Maritime College, and Texas Maritime Academy—and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, will each receive $1 million from a government program that recycles obsolete vessels. The funding will help ensure well-educated and skilled U.S. Merchant Marine officers are available to meet the nation's national security and economic needs.

The money for this round of funding came from the sale of obsolete vessels from the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet, which were purchased for recycling. As required by the National Maritime Heritage Act, 25 percent of the funds from sales is distributed to maritime academies for facility and training ship maintenance, repair and modernization, and for the purchase of simulators and fuel; 25 percent for maritime heritage activities; and 50 percent funds the acquisition, maintenance and repair of vessels in the National Defense Reserve Fleet. Since 2009, the Maritime Administration has provided more than $8.9 million from vessel sales to the state academies and USMMA.


-back to top-