Excise Tax on Tackle Helps Support America’s Fisheries
Most people don’t realize that when they buy fishing gear, they are directly helping the fish they love to catch.
By Joe Overlock, Fisheries Management Supervisor, Maine DIFW
from the Fishing Wire
Most people don’t realize that when they buy fishing gear, they are directly helping the fish they love to catch. It is all thanks to a law passed in 1950 called the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act (named after the congressmen who spearheaded the effort). This law created an excise tax on fishing tackle, equipment, boat fuel, and other items. Most consumers aren’t even aware that this tax exists because it is paid by the manufacturer. Every time eligible equipment is sold, the tax is applied. Federal agencies collect the tax and direct it to a special fund that is distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. A requirement of the DJ Act essentially says that for a state to receive funds, all money generated from the sale of licenses must only be used to support the functions of that agency and cannot be used for other purposes. Because Maine’s license revenues are constitutionally protected, Maine is eligible to receive this funding.
This agency partnership between MDIFW and the USFWS is a huge win for Maine’s inland fish populations and our anglers–and for conservation across the nation. For eligible activities, these funds match state dollars at a rate of 3:1. Yes, for every $1 of state funds, we receive $3 of match through this program! This money is utilized to pay the salaries of fisheries biologists that work every day to preserve, protect, and enhance fisheries resources; funding is provided for special restoration and enhancement projects such as the Reclamation of Big Reed Pond; funds are used to develop water access sites so that we have the ability to recreate on Maine’s waters forever; plus a whole lot more.
In addition to the DJ Act there is also an important fund created to benefit wildlife species. The Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act was the model for the DJ Act and was enacted in 1937. The revenue for this funding source comes from a tax applied to the sale of firearms and ammunition. Wildlife resources benefit from this tax in the very same way fisheries populations benefit from the DJ Act.
The coolest thing about these programs is that you, the users, see a direct return on your investment. You buy gear to pursue the activity you love, money from that purchase goes to preserve, protect, and enhance those populations, you get better fishing or hunting, and then you want to buy more gear! It is truly a “user pay – user benefit” system.
So, don’t feel guilty the next time you buy a new fishing rod or spend a little extra on that expensive lure that you might not “need”. Your purchase is an important piece of the puzzle that drives the work we do, and I thank you for your help.
To learn more about the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program please visit: https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/