DFW staff discusses fishing license policy

Parimal M. Rohit

FRESNO — Issuing calendar year fishing licenses is negatively impacting fishing participation, a Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) staff member reported to the Fish and Game Commission’s Wildlife Committee at a meeting in Fresno on Sept. 9.

The number of annual fishing licenses sold is gradually declining in California because each issued license expires at the end of a calendar year instead of 12 months from the date it was purchased.

Underwood’s report cited several sales statistics to point out the current state of recreational fishing in California. Annual license sales, for example, reportedly dipped 52 percent since 1980 (2.27 million licenses in 1980 to 1.1 million presently).

License revenue reportedly increased from $21.5 million in 1980 to $63.3 million in 2014. When adjusted for inflation, however, the 34-year gap is not as wide. The reported 1980 revenue of $21.5 million is roughly $61.8 million in 2014.

Fishing participation apparently increased in Alabama when the state reverted to a 12-month license schedule, according to Underwood. The southern state reportedly shifted away from the 12-month license cycle in 1995 and experienced an 8 percent drop in fishing participation, Underwood explained in a graph. Fishing licenses were up 9 percent in Alabama, however, when the state reportedly switched back to the 12-month cycle in 2007.

State Senator Tom Berryhill attempted to legislate a 12-month fishing license with Senate Bill 345 earlier this year. The bill stalled in the legislature, however.

Underwood’s presentation to the Wildlife Committee can be viewed here: bit.ly/1FAbTzi.

The future of fishing licenses and impending sportfishing legislation could return to the Fish and Game Commission again in the future.

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