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Water: Fish & Shellfish

Sport Fishing in America: EPA Makes a Difference in FY97

The Highlights

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with our partners, accomplished a great deal to support aquatic habitat and the recreational fisheries that depend upon this habitat. Virtually all of EPA's activities that support aquatic habitat also support the recreational fisheries that depend upon this habitat. The vast majority of EPA's efforts to improve aquatic resources are done in cooperation with our state, tribal and local government; industry; and citizen partners. EPA thanks our partners for all their collaborative efforts to support aquatic habitat protection and restoration and aquatic resources education.

EPA is particularly proud of its achievements made by both headquarters and the Regions. These achievements are highlighted below. The details of EPA's accomplishments are described in Sportfishing in America: EPA Makes a Difference in FY97.

Policy Directions in 1997 Assure the Health of America's Watersheds -- Organize and Work to Protect Places
For the past 25 years, much of the focus of EPA's clean water program has been on assuring that major categories of pollution sources meet national minimum discharge standards and implementing generalized, national programs to reduce pollution from industry and wastewater treatment plants. In 1997 and beyond, EPA will focus more attention on identifying the specific waterbodies or watersheds that still do not meet water quality goals and standards and devising tailored solutions to solving these problems.

Many of the remaining water pollution problems are the result of the complex interaction of various different pollution sources within a watershed. These problems are best solved through the development of watershed plans that integrate programs for control of point source discharges and nonpoint sources (polluted runoff) and provide decision-makers with an opportunity to consider issues such as protection and restoration of habitat for aquatic life. EPA's policy of a "healthy watershed" approach to pollution control will result in more comprehensive environmental solutions, more cost-effective and flexible programs, improved public involvement, and improved recreational fisheries habitat.

Aquatic Resources Protection and Restoration

EPA Invests More than $1 Billion > for Aquatic Resources

EPA invested more than one billion dollars in FY97 to support the protection and restoration of our nation's aquatic resources and the recreational fisheries they support. Protecting and restoring the health of the nation's aquatic resources is vitally important to the condition of the sport fisheries that depend upon these resources. EPA was involved with a myriad of protection and restoration efforts to improve aquatic resources in FY97. Outlined below are just a sample of these accomplishments.

The Massachusetts Bay National Estuary Program, funded by EPA Region I, spearheaded an interagency effort to restore 12 recreational and commercial shellfish beds in communities along the shorelines of Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. Restoration projects are focused on identifying pollutant sources, such as storm water runoff, which is a major source of pathogens to Salem Sound. Restoration efforts are showing some successes, with approximately 300 acres of shellfish beds re-opened in the North River, and 200 acres re-opened in the Back River watershed.

As a result of EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program Office efforts, in conjunction with the efforts of EPA's partners, 78 miles of rivers were opened to both migratory and anadromous fish stock with the removal of dams and the installation of fish ladders/elevators. The stripped bass Spawning Stock Index (females ages 4-15 years) increased over 10 percent from 1996 to 1997 from 70 to 78 (most recent data available).

There are more than 68,000 major impoundments along rivers. These dams can adversely affect aquatic habitat and recreational fisheries by interrupting flows, altering water temperature, blocking fisheries migration corridors, and imposing numerous other changes on natural systems. EPA Region IV has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission to jointly fund the removal of the 260-foot long Quaker Neck Dam on the Neuse River near Goldsboro, North Carolina. Demolition of the dam will allow better passage for saltwater fish that spawn in rivers and will improve fish habitats along a 75-mile stretch of the Neuse and 925 miles of tributary spawning areas. The anadromous species that will benefit include striped bass, American shad, hickory shad and shortnose sturgeon. The dam is being voluntarily removed by Carolina Power & Light.

EPA Region V invested more than $1.8 million in nonpoint source grants for 12 stream and lake restoration projects. These restoration projects supported the implementation of agricultural and urban best management practices for controlling polluted runoff. Polluted runoff continues to threaten the nation's aquatic resources, including sport fisheries. Thus funding the control of polluted runoff is critical to improving aquatic resources and recreational fisheries habitat.

Landmark Agreement

For the first time ever, Clean Water Act State Revolving Funds, in the amount of $12 million, will be used in conjunction with $12 million from US Department of Interior to increase flows in the Truckee River, Nevada (EPA Region IX) by purchasing water rights from willing sellers. This is a landmark agreement and a first of its kind use of clean water loans to purchase water for instream flows to support aquatic life. The estimated amount of water to be purchased through this agreement is 24,000 Acre Feet. Expected benefits include improved fish spawning conditions, recruitment of riparian vegetation, reduction in water temperatures, increases in dissolved oxygen concentrations, and reductions in non-point source loadings. Improved habitat for Lahontan cutthroat trout, as well as other trout species, is expected to substantially enhance recreational fishing opportunities in the river.

EPA Region VII's Clean Water Act State Revolving Funds were provided to Iowa's State Parks Division to upgrade the wastewater treatment facilities at some of the busiest state parks. These loans totaled $2.35 million. This investment covered upgrading wastewater treatment facilities at 10 state parks spread throughout the state. Almost all of the state parks are located on the shoreline of a recreational fishery and at least three are on a major recreational fishery resource for the state, such as Saylorville and Rathbun lakes and the Mississippi River. This construction not only means better water quality from improved sewage treatment for nearby fish, but it also means that more anglers can enjoy a quality experience with modern and efficient facilities. The success of this effort which improved the recreational fishery, was noticed by the State of Missouri who recently called for a FY99 direct loan project of $515,000 for Missouri's State Division of Parks to support similar multiple park wastewater treatment construction projects which will benefit Missouri's recreational fisheries.

EPA Region X funded six Oregon communities' salmon restoration projects ($253,000 in grant money ) including improving salmon passage on Simmons Creek, a tributary to the Tillamook River; modifying tidegates in Tillamook Bay; dam removal on the Illinois River (a tributary to the Rogue River), riparian fencing and planting along Floras Creek in Curry County, stream enhancement in Whittaker Creek (part of the Siuslaw River); and rehabilitating Cutthroat trout spawning beds along Clover and Butler Creeks, which are tributaries of the Umpqual River.

Aquatic Resources Education
Because EPA can be in only a limited number of places, it is vital that anglers, citizens, businesses, and industries continue to work together with EPA, the states and tribes to improve aquatic resources. Many of EPA's most important contributions to improving sport fisheries are those that strive to educate the public on the condition of the nation's aquatic resources and on activities citizens can undertake to improve the condition.

Nearly 1 Million Citizens Visit
EPA's Aquatic Education Internet Sites

EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds(OWOW) has invested heavily in the Internet as a tool to educate citizens on the condition of aquatic resources and on ways citizens can work to improve these resources. In FY97, there were nearly 1 million visitors to OWOW's web site where Surf Your Watershed, Index of Watershed Indicators, and Adopt Your Watershed, and other important aquatic resources educational tools reside.

In FY97 EPA made significant improvements to one the premier aquatic resources education Internet tools, Surf Your Watershed (Surf) (https://www.epa.gov/surf/). EPA's Surf allows the user to "click" on a state map to zoom into the watershed where they live or fish and obtain information on environmental quality indicators, environmental protection efforts, and environmental uses and impacts. It also encourages the growth of watershed protection partnerships because the user can learn about local groups and organizations actively working to protect their watershed. They can also find out about ongoing efforts both upstream and downstream of their watershed. Additionally, users can access water quality data for the watershed. In FY97, EPA added over 6000 records of educational information which represent web sites, documents, maps, and services. The importance of Surf as an educational tool is demonstrated by the fact that it has been highlighted on CSPAN, National Public Radio, and as a component of National Performance Review's Reinventing Government web site.

EPA Responds to More than 7000
Inquiries Concerning Wetlands Resources

EPA's administers a Wetlands Hotline (800-832-7828) which responds to public inquiries about wetland resources functions and values and about programs for the protection, management, and restoration of wetland resources. In FY97, the Hotline responded to more than 7,000 inquiries.

In FY97, EPA released a first of its kind aquatic resources educational tool known as the Index of Watershed Indicators (IWI) (formerly known as National Watershed Assessment Project). This is the first comprehensive assessment of watersheds in the continental U.S. The data, now available to all citizens on the Internet, highlight which watersheds have good water quality, moderate water quality, more serious problems, and insufficient data to fully characterize watershed health. The IWI is one of the most effective ways to solve environmental problems by putting information about pollution into the hands of citizens. Providing the public with information on pollution in their local watersheds is an extremely important step in improving our nation's aquatic resources and sport fisheries. By accessing the IWI, the public can retrieve an overall score reflecting the condition and vulnerability of the watershed in which they live as well as more detailed environmental information on individual "indicators" used to assess and score the watersheds, for both condition (quality) and vulnerability to degradation from pollution.

EPA launched another important public education campaign, Adopt Your Watershed, to educate citizens and encourage their stewardship of the nation's aquatic resources. Through this effort, EPA challenges citizens and organizations to join us and others who are working to protect and restore our valuable rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes, ground water, and estuaries. In making this challenge, EPA also educates interested citizens on how to start watershed protection efforts. As part of EPA's Adopt campaign, EPA released an Internet database (https://www.epa.gov/adopt/) of 4000 active citizen groups working to protect and restore their watersheds in order to help anglers and others contact and participate in the efforts of existing watershed groups.

EPA is committed to educating the public on federal resources available to assist citizens in protecting aquatic resources. All too often tracking down information and expertise can be complicated and time consuming. To remediate this situation, EPA, in FY97, launched an Internet Services catalogue (with over 400 records) which coordinates and streamlines information on products and tools available to help citizens protect their local fishing holes and other aquatic resources. Included in this one-stop-shopping catalogue of services is funding information, outreach tools, planning and management tools, information centers and sources of data and maps.

Partnerships to Improve Aquatic Resources
In order to accomplish more for recreational fisheries habitat, it is critical for people to work together in partnership to reduce duplication of effort, improve coordination, and share resources to achieve common goals. EPA is committed to working in partnership with the states, tribes, other federal agencies, anglers, industry -including the sport fishing industry, and other stakeholders. EPA's partnership efforts allow it to accomplish more with less. Outlined below are some of the highlights of EPA's partnership achievements.

In FY97, EPA demonstrated its commitment to riparian habitat preservation and conservation helping to shape a new federal interagency partnership known as the American Heritage Rivers initiative. EPA and its partners are working to focus the delivery of resources to support community-led efforts to protect natural resources and in particular, aquatic habitat, while spurring economic revitalization and preserving our historic and cultural heritage. This initiative is important for protecting and restoring recreational fisheries because many of the projects that will arise out of this initiative will be focused on improving aquatic habitat to better support sports fisheries.

As part of EPA's commitment to empowering citizens to improve local aquatic habitat, in FY97 EPA initiated a very successful new partnership known as the River Corridors and Wetlands Restoration Partners comprised of federal agencies, conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited, and local government organizations. The purpose of this partnership is to provide to community based aquatic ecosystem restoration practitioners information on river and wetland restoration projects, proposals, ideas, and contacts, and to help develop a more complete picture of restoration activities nationwide. In addition to launching this partnership effort, EPA established a web site to provide restoration information and contacts to local practitioners; developed a Partner Handbook, and conducted a National River Corridors and Wetlands Restoration Partners' Forum

EPA Region III partnered with Lititz Run Watershed Alliance to site and design a six-acre wetland/riparian system to improve water quality and retain sediment for the purpose of restoring the stream to a trout fishery. In addition, Region III and Chesapeake Bay Program Office provided funding for stream fencing and riparian plantings for approximately nine stream miles to further support this fishery's restoration

EPA Region VIII has very successfully participated in a partnership with the Colorado Interagency Fishery Managers Forum. Ongoing efforts are resulting in finalizing the Colorado Statewide Fishery Management Policy, increasing communication and cooperation among the range of State and Federal land management agencies influencing fishery resources, and discussion of concerns and provisions for dealing with whirling disease in Colorado hatcheries and waters.

A Preview to FY98 Efforts to Improve Sport Fisheries
The Clean Water Action Plan
On October 18, 1997, during the Clean Water Act 25th Anniversary celebration, the Vice President requested that the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of EPA in consultation with affected federal agencies devise an action plan to address more effective control of polluted runoff and promotion of water quality protection on a watershed basis. In record time, on February 19, 1998, three months after the Vice President made his request, EPA and USDA unveiled the Clean Water Action Plan (Action Plan).

The Action Plan provides a blueprint for restoring and protecting the nation's precious water resources. It proposes aggressive new actions to strengthen the program. A key element in the Action Plan is a new cooperative approach to watershed protection in which state, tribal, federal, and local governments, and the public first identify the watersheds with the most critical water quality problems and then work together to focus resources and implement effective strategies to solve those problems. The Action Plan also includes new initiatives to improve the stewardship of aquatic resources, strengthen polluted runoff controls, and make water quality information more accessible to the public.

Animal Feeding Operation Strategy
In its first action under the new Clean Water Action Plan, EPA released for public comment a draft strategy to minimize environmental impacts from animal feeding operations (AFOs). The strategy calls for new water pollution control requirements and immediate inspections and increased enforcement for large animal feeding operations to reduce animal waste runoff into waterways.

Animal feeding operations are livestock-raising operations, such as hog, cattle and poultry farms, that confine and concentrate animal populations and their wastes. Animal waste, if not managed properly, can run off to nearby water bodies and cause serious water pollution and threaten recreational fisheries. The draft strategy calls for aggressive enforcement of Clean Water Act permit requirements and an increase in facilities permitted. It also calls for the implementation of an expanded range of regulatory and permitting tools by EPA and the states. It is intended to foster a dialogue with the regulated community and other members of the public on how to better protect the environment and aquatic resources around these facilities and to encourage voluntary actions.

Agricultural practices across the United States are estimated to contribute to the degradation of 60 percent of the nation's surveyed rivers and streams that are impaired. Feedlots alone are estimated to adversely impact 16 percent of waters that are impaired from agricultural practices.

Educating Leaders in the Sport Fishing Community
In FY98, EPA was invited to participate in the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society Federation's state conservation directors training workshops. EPA will be sending two individuals to this training. One will provide training on the environmental impacts of animal feeding operations. The other will provide training on initiating watershed councils and on tools available to help educate sports fishermen and other citizens on the condition of their watershed and to help undertake restoration efforts.

Accountability and Management for Results
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 mandated that all federal agencies move to a planning, budgeting, and accountability approach built around clear mission goals with specific performance targets in terms of outcomes. The Act required each agency to develop and publish, by September 1997, a strategic plan covering a 5-year period and an Annual Performance Plan for fiscal year 1999, linked to the longer term Strategic Plan and including annual goals and performance measures. Additionally, by March 31, 2000 each agency is to provide to Congress a performance report evaluating performance against the 1999 Annual Plan. The annual planning and reporting/accountability cycle repeats itself for fiscal year 2000 and each year thereafter.

EPA's first Stategic Plan is built around 10 broad Strategic Goals, which are in turn comprised of more specific Objectives and Subobjectives. Each of the latter elements is framed in the form of a particular accomplishment to be achieved by a particular year. Most of the Strategic Plan elements that relate most closely to recreational fisheries are found under the following Goals:

  • Goal 2 - Clean and Safe Water
  • Goal 6 - Reduction of Global and Cross-Border Environmental Risks
  • Goal 7 - Expansion of Americans' Right to Know About Their Environment
  • Goal 8 - Sound Science, Improved Understanding of Environmnetal Risk, and Greater Innovation to Address Environmental Problems
  • Goal 9 - A Credible Deterrent to Pollution and Greater Compliance with the Law

Taken together, these Strategic Plan elements outline an ambitious set of challenges for EPA and its partners for the coming years. Although these milestones are not limited to recreational fisheries, their achievement will contribute significantly to the Fisheries Plan's goals of conserving, enhancing, and restoring recreational fisheries habitats ...; promoting public education and support for aquatic resource conservation ...; and working collaboratively with State and willing Tribal management partners, industry, anglers, and conservation groups to advance aquatic resource conservation ... and assisting private landowners with aquatic resource conservation.

Many of the key Strategic Plan elements are reproduced in the Appendix to this document.

APPENDIX - Strategic Plan Elements Relating to Recreational Fisheries

Goal 2: Clean and Safe Water

Objective 1: By 2005, protect human health so that 95% of the population served by community water systems will receive water that meets drinking water standards, consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish will be reduced, and exposure to microbial and other forms of contamination in waters used for recreation will be reduced.
Subobjective 1f: By 2005, consumption of contaminated fish and shellfish will be reduced and the percentage of waters attaining the designated uses protecting the consumption of fish and shellfish will increase.
Objective 2: By 2005, conserve and enhance the ecological health of the nation's (state, interstate, and tribal) waters and aquatic ecosystems -- rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands, estuaries, coastal areas, oceans, and ground waters -- so that 75% of waters support healthy aquatic communities.
Subobjective 2a: By 2005, restore and protect watersheds so that 75% of waters support healthy watersheds as shown by comprehensive assessment of the nation's watersheds. Subobjective 2b: By 2005, and in each year thereafter, the work of federal, state, tribal, and local agencies; the private sector; hunting and fishing organizations; and citizen groups will result in a net increase of 100,000 acres of wetlands.
Objective 3: By 2005, pollutant discharges from key point sources and nonpoint source runoff will be reduced by at least 20% from 1992 levels. Air deposition of key pollutants impacting water bodies will be reduced.
Subobjective 3a: By 2005, annual point source loadings from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs), and industrial sources will be reduced by 30% from 1992 levels.

Subobjective 3b: By 2005, nonpoint source sediment and nutrient loads to rivers and streams will be reduced. Erosion from cropland, used as an indicator of success in controlling sediment delivery to surface waters, will be reduced by 20% from 1992 levels.

Subobjective 3c: By 2006, improve water quality by reducing releases of targeted persistent toxic pollutants that contribute to air deposition by 50-75% as measured by the National Toxics Inventory, reducing deposition of nitrogen by 10-15% from 1980 levels as measured by wet and dry deposition monitoring networks, and improving our understanding of, and cross-media responses to, the sources, pathways, and effects of air pollutants deposited on water bodies and watersheds.

Goal 6: Reduction of Global and Cross-border Environmental Risks

Objective 1: By 2005, reduce transboundary threats to human health and shared ecosystems in North America consistent with our bilateral and multilateral treaty obligations in these areas, as well as our trust responsibility to Tribes.
Sub-Objective 1.4: Restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem, particularly by reducing the level of toxic substances, by protecting human health, restoring vital habitats, and restoring and maintaining stable, diverse, and self-sustaining populations.

Goal 7: Expansion of Americans' Right to Know About Their Environment

Objective 1: By 2005, EPA will improve the ability of the American public to participate in the protection of human health and the environment by increasing the quality and quantity of general environmental education, outreach and data availability programs, especially in disproportionally impacted and disadvantaged communities.
Subobjective 1.9: By 2003, the public will be able to access on the Internet comprehensive environmental information on the watershed in which they live including the environmental condition, the stressors, and the environmental health threats.

Goal 8: Sound Science, Improved Understanding of Environmental Risk, and Greater Innovation to Address Environmental Problems

Objective 1: By 2008, provide the scientific understanding to measure, model, maintain, restore, at multiple scales, the integrity and sustainability of ecosystems now and in the future.

Objective 5: By 2005, EPA will increase the number of places using integrated, holistic partnership approaches, such as community-based environmental protection (CBEP), and quantify their tangible and sustainable environmental results in places where EPA is directly involved.

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