Altered State Senate bill aims to activate younger anglers

SACRAMENTO — When a door closes in one place perhaps another one will open elsewhere. State Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) might have found the key to open a new door after one was shut closed at this time last year during his campaign to enact the Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 2015.

The reincarnated version of Senate Bill 345 (SB 345) would create a Junior Sport Fishing License for anglers who are 16 or 17 years old. The license would be offered at a reduced rate than what adults pay for an annual pass.

SB 345 cleared the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee by a 15-0 vote on June 28, about one year after Berryhill cancelled a June 30, 2015 hearing date in the Assembly.

“I want to give kids a chance to explore the sport and spend time in California’s great outdoors,” Berryhill said in a released statement. “Offering a reduced cost junior license will encourage families to take their kids fishing. Once you’ve fished … you’re hooked.”

Berryhill introduced SB 345, which was called the Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 2015, on Feb. 24, 2015 and aimed to address the state’s declining fishing participation and revitalize fishing license sales.

The bill specifically proposed the state issue 12-month fishing licenses to anglers. Currently anglers must pay the same fee for an annual fishing license no matter when it is bought. So someone purchasing a fishing license on July 1 pays the same fee as another angler who bought the annual pass on January 1. Both licenses would expire on Dec. 31.

However the bill was gutted last summer and failed to get out of the Assembly. (The State Senate unanimously approved the bill on June 4, 2015.)

This year’s iteration of SB 345 hopes offering discounted fishing licenses to a younger demographic would increase angler participation statewide.

“While recreational fishing contributes over $4.9 billion annually to California’s economy, a major source of outdoor tourism and jobs, it has been on the decline in recent years,” a statement released by Berryhill’s office stated. “Removing costly barriers to youth participation is particularly important when studies have found that 71 percent of anglers experienced fishing for the first time as a child.

“The junior fishing license will go a long way to introduce our young people to the sport and therefore increase license sales,” the statement continued.

Possession limit regulations for charitable or other nonprofit organizations are also clarified by Berryhill’s bill.

Berryhill represents several counties in central and eastern California, including the Sierra Nevada region.

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