Boating Infrastructure Grants Announced | AGFC Publishes Catfish Regulation Survey
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) has announced that the Boating Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program will allocate over $20 million to assist states and territories with constructing, renovating, and maintaining marinas and other boating facilities.
The BIG program is designed to improve public access to recreational boating in service of increasing fishing and other recreational activities. Since its inception in 2000, the BIG program has awarded over $283 million to projects for large transient recreational boats.
Arkansas is among the states to receive access to the grants, which support amenities such as fuel docks, showers, and Wi-Fi access for the transient recreational boating public. This is in addition to an estimated 381 new slips and births.
Further funding will be distributed to 19 other states and territories, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The BIG program includes 2 tiers of funding. Tier 1 funding is a $200,000 allotment that states can apply to receive annually. Tier 2 funding is aimed at promoting large-scale infrastructure projects and will be competitively distributed, with a cap of $1.5 million per allotment.
The BIG program was reauthorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021. The program attempts to further the work of the Department of the Interior in expanding outdoor recreation access and restoring cultural resources and open spaces.
Aside from the boating grants, the BIG program generally benefits all U.S. states and territories and is funded by a voluntary user pay system created by recreational boaters and anglers in 1950 to pay for critical conservation programs and recreational boating infrastructure projects.
Catfish Regulation Survey Available
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is turning its attention to trophy catfishing on the Mississippi River, with two potential regulations under consideration. To gauge public sentiment, the Commission has launched a formal survey, available for comment until April 7, on its website, www.agfc.com.
The first of the proposed regulations would make it illegal for sport or commercial anglers to have more than one catfish of any species over 34 inches long from the Mississippi River. The second regulation being considered would ban the sale of live sportfish from the Mississippi River to out-of-state facilities for trophy angling purposes.
By gathering public opinion, the Commission seeks to strike a balance between preserving trophy catfish angling opportunities and allowing for the harvest of smaller catfish for personal consumption and commercial fishing.