Wicker, Cantwell, Kamlager-Dove, Salazar Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Invest in Marine Science and Fisheries Education for Historically Underserved Youth

June 7, 2023

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and U.S. Congresswomen Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Calif., and María Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., introduced the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act to direct the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) to establish a grant program to fund youth fishing projects. Grants from this program would educate our nation’s youth on marine sciences, conservation, and responsible fishing practices while also giving historically underserved communities the opportunity to fish and experience other marine-based activities.

“We should be encouraging young Americans to get involved in fishing,” Wicker said. “Our legislation will help remove barriers to accessing the outdoors and ensure that more young anglers, especially those in underserved communities, have the opportunity to enjoy this beloved pastime."

“Fishing is one of our favorite pastimes in the Pacific Northwest, and our bill will support Washington state organizations that take kids fishing in their local coastal waters, rivers, and bays,” Cantwell said. “This bill will help more kids get the tools, gear, and support they need to experience the outdoors and the benefits that come with it.”

“Our nation is home to beautiful rivers, oceans, and lakes. As we prepare to commemorate World Oceans Day, I am proud to continue the legacy of the late Congressman Donald McEachin by reintroducing the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act with Congresswoman Salazar and Senators Wicker and Cantwell to educate our youth on different marine environments, as well as vital conservation measures we must take to combat the climate crisis,” Kamlager-Dove said. “It is especially important that historically disadvantaged youth have opportunities to learn about aquatic life and marine sciences to harbor their curiosity in these fields. Ensuring our nation’s children have rich, diverse educational experiences allows them to fully embrace their surroundings and thrive as students and individuals.”

"As someone who knows and recognizes the importance of the marine and aquatic environment, it is critical to provide younger generations of Americans across the country, especially minority Americans, the opportunity to learn firsthand about our seas, oceans, lakes, and outdoors, as well as provide them with the tools to enjoy them," Salazar said.

The Youth Coastal Fishing Act is supported by fishing advocacy and outdoor industry groups across the U.S. including the American Sportfishing Association, the Ebony Anglers, Outdoor Afro, the International Game Fish Association, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and the Center for Sportfishing Policy.

Read the full bill text here.