It’s too bad that most federal government programs aren’t as financially sound as the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR).
For fishing, this incredible use-pays, user-profits strategy has shown a more than 2,000 percent annual return on monies invested in fisheries and conservation, according to “The Benefits to Business from Hunting and Fishing Excise Taxes,” a report compiled by Southwick Associates and Andrew Loftus Consulting on behalf of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
How does that happen?
Anglers pay excise taxes on fishing tackle and motorboat fuel. That money goes into a dedicated fund managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which allocates the money as matching funds to the states for fisheries conservation.
“Excise-tax collections and import duties averaged $110 million annually between 1955 and 2006 (equipment only, not motorboat fuels),” revealed the report. “At the same time, wholesale-adjusted purchases of taxable fishing equipment by anglers averaged $2.3 billion per year, resulting in an average annual return of 2,157 percent.”
Not all individual fish and wildlife projects show such huge returns, the authors added. “And the nature of some projects is such that a return simply can’t be quantified.
“However, today’s $30 billion hunting and fishing equipment industries have been built on a foundation of plentiful hunting and fishing opportunities --- thanks to the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration excise tax paid by business.”
Because this program is so profitable, Washington politicians occasionally try to steal these dedicated funds for other purposes. The last time it happened was 1994. Should they ever succeed, results could be catastrophic.
“There is no other funding source that could take up the slack on the scale of our excise-tax-funded Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs,” the report said. “Losing that excise –tax investment would literally be the end of hunting and fishing as we know it.”