Sport Fish Restoration Awards Program

Purpose: The annual Sport Fish Restoration outstanding project awards given by the Fisheries Administration Section of the American Fisheries Society are intended to both highlight the importance and effectiveness of the Sport Fish Restoration program and recognize excellence in fisheries management, research and education.  The Sport Fish Restoration program, also known as the Dingell-Johnson or Wallop-Breaux program after its primary Congressional sponsors, is funded by excise taxes collected on fishing tackle, boats, and motorboat fuel, which are apportioned to the states to enhance fisheries and boating programs.  It was first created in 1950 and has provided nearly $3 billion toward better fishing and boating.  The Fisheries Administration Section recognizes the absolutely critical importance of this program for state fisheries agencies, but also knows that the program is subject to periodic reauthorization by Congress and ongoing scrutiny from the users who pay the excise tax.  This annual awards program helps identify and showcase outstanding fisheries projects from across the country and hopefully generates continued support for the Sport Fish Restoration program.

Award Categories:  Three “Outstanding Project of the Year” awards are given each year, one in each of the following categories:  sport fishery development and management (access, facilities, and habitat acquisition or improvement), research and surveys, and aquatic education.

Award Eligibility:  The primary eligibility criteria are that the project must fit in one of the award categories described above and must have been conducted using Sport Fish Restoration and associated state matching funds.  The award nomination should be submitted by the state, protectorate, or agency that received the Sport Fish Restoration grant.  Because many projects are ongoing or occur over long time frames, there are no formal constraints on timing of nomination.  However, the project must have a defined ending date.  This criterion is intended to differentiate projects from ongoing programs.

Award Criteria and Judging:  Project nominations are reviewed and judged by a committee of Fisheries Administration Section members.  The Section President-Elect chairs the committee.  Projects are judged considering six general criteria: overall project quality; appropriate evaluation strategies; impacts on the public; advancement of sport fisheries management, research, or aquatic education; exceptional protection or enhancement of habitat or resources; and improved understanding of and support for fishery values.  A detailed list of evaluation criteria is attached.  All decisions of the awards committee are final.

Award Recognition:  The awards are announced each year at the American Fisheries Society annual meeting.  Awards are recognized through national and local press releases and are featured in Fisheries magazine.  Each winner is presented with an award plaque by the Fisheries Administrators Section President (or designee) during an appropriate function identified by the winning agency (e.g., a meeting of the agency commission or governing board).

Nomination Instructions:  Project nominations should be submitted as PDF files that provide essential information on project need, objectives, procedures, results, benefits, and evaluation.  The nomination narrative should be no more than two pages in length.  The narrative should address the appropriate awards criteria described above.  Do not send copies of final reports or other supporting written materials – summarize these materials in the two-page narrative.  You may designate an awards category, but the awards committee reserves the right to change the category if appropriate.

More Information:  If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact the current Fisheries Administration Section President-Elect: Doug Nygren at (620) 672-5911 or


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