US Capitol Building

MRAA Supports Bipartisan Youth Fishing Legislation

WASHINGTON D.C., September 2022 — Congress introduced the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act of 2022 last week that would create opportunities for kids in underserved communities to get on the water. The bill was introduced in both the House and Senate September 22, and is supported broadly by the outdoor recreation community and members on both sides of the aisle. The House version, H.R. 8977, was introduced by Representatives Maria Salazar (R-FL-23) and Donald McEachin (D-VA-04), along with 19 other co-sponsors. The Senate Version, S. 4927, was introduced by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

Youth aboard boat.Image courtesy of the ASA.
Image courtesy of the ASA.

The bill’s focus is to get kids on the water and introduce them to the joys of fishing and boating. The legislation aims to establish a grant program, administered through the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, to fund community-based projects that take youth fishing on the ocean and the Great Lakes. The program, to be funded at $2 million per year, will also help drive efforts to attract new anglers, as priority will be given to projects targeted at underserved communities. 

“Representatives McEachin and Salazar and Senators Cantwell and Wicker displayed impressive leadership for introducing this important legislation,” said Chad Tokowicz, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas Government Relations Manager. “Right now, the recreational fishing and boating community is laser focused on Recruitment, Retainment and Reactivation (R3), and this bill is a recruitment driver. This bill aligns with the boating community’s focus on creating opportunities for everyone to experience life on the water, while also increasing diversity.”

Education is a core tenant of this new program. Projects must include a focus on marine science, conservation and both where and how to continue fishing. The program also advocates for sharing the marine world with more youth. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service each have programs that connect youth to nature or provide fishing opportunities, however, NOAA the federal agency tasked with managing marine fisheries, does not. Aside from the importance of educating The Nation’s youth on marine conservation and science, getting outdoors is simply good for your health.

“Countless studies show that while there are ample health benefits to spending time on the water with family and friends, young people and those in underserved communities face significant barriers in accessing the outdoors,” said ASA’s Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Leonard. “The grants provided through this bill will go a long way to remove those barriers and help children develop a love of fishing. We thank Representatives Salazar and McEachin and Senators Wicker and Cantwell for their work on this issue and look forward to its bipartisan support in Congress.”

In supporting this legislation, the MRAA joins 21 conservation organizations and trade associations that also stand behind this bill (view the letter here). As this bill begins to make its way through the legislative process,  the MRAA will provide updates and, when possible, calls to action. If you have any questions about this bill or how to get more involved with advocacy, please contact the MRAA’s Chad Tokowicz at or 978-569-5127.

About the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
At the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, we believe that for the marine industry to thrive, the retail organizations that interact with the boaters in their community must thrive. With that in mind, MRAA works to create a strong and healthy boating industry by uniting those retailers, providing them with opportunities for improvement and growth, and representing them with a powerful voice. For more information, visit or contact us at 763-315-8043.