Boating and Fishing:

Administration of the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund

RCED-89-32BR: Published: Oct 26, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO analyzed the Sport Fish Restoration Account of the Aquatic Resource Trust Fund to determine: (1) why the revenues increased; (2) the accuracy of the Department of the Treasury's revenue estimates and accounting procedures; and (3) how states spent their funds. GAO also analyzed the Fund's Boat Safety Account to determine how states and the Coast Guard used those funds.

GAO found that: (1) the Sport Fish Restoration Account revenues increased to $125 million between 1985 and 1988, due to increased taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel; (2) Treasury affected state planning and budgeting by making errors in estimating monthly revenues, which it made because of its inexperience in estimating excise taxes and import duties, mistakes in reporting revenues, and inadequate monthly reports; (3) Treasury failed to transfer about $14 million in import duties into the account; (4) the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to promptly and accurately apportion account funds to the states; and (5) states used the funds to finance new research and fishery development activities and to complete projects they started before the fund was established. GAO also found that: (1) most states used Boat Safety Account funds primarily to acquire and upgrade law enforcement equipment; (2) the Coast Guard used its funds to offset a portion of its total cost of services to recreational boaters; (3) the Coast Guard did not implement a recommendation that it use existing information sources to obtain more meaningful data on state spending of boat safety funds due to staff limitations; and (4) Congress recently authorized the Coast Guard to hire additional staff, using available funds.

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