SACRAMENTO — A proposal to switch California’s fishing licensing process to a 12-month calendaring system failed to gain full legislative support yet again, as Senate Bill 187, or SB 187, stalled in the California Assembly just before the Labor Day weekend.
The bill was up for hearing Sept. 1, as legislators returned to Sacramento after their summer break. Members of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, however, did not advance SB 187 to the full voting body, meaning the bill is officially dead in the water.
SB 187 proposed to establish a 12-month fishing license system. Anglers currently purchase fishing licenses on a calendar system. All licenses purchased under the calendar system expire on Dec. 31 of any given year, regardless of purchase date.
Angling advocates were hopeful SB 187 would make it to the governor’s desk this year, particularly since the bill had no recorded opposition, was supported by dozens of groups and earned unanimous support in the State Senate.
No reasoning was given as to why SB 187, which was placed on the Assembly’s suspense file in August, was not selected to move forward.
California’s anglers and recreational fishing advocates hoped State Sen. Tom Berryhill’s bill would become law this year, as SB 187 proposed to establish a 12-month fishing license system. The state currently issues recreational fishing licenses on a calendar basis, which is considered antiquated by angling groups.
Groups such as California Sportfishing League (CSL) have long argued the calendar system is at least partially to blame for declining license sales within the state.
Marko Mlikotin, CSL’s executive director, pointed out the Appropriation Committee’s chair represents San Diego, where fishing license sales are apparently among the highest in the state.
The State Senate approved SB 187 by a 40-0 vote on May 31; the Assembly’s Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife also supported the bill with a 15-0 vote.
Agencies, businesses and groups formally in support of SB 187 included Abu Garcia, Berkeley Fishing, California Aquaculture Association, California Association of Recreational Fishing, California Chamber of Commerce, CSL, Fred Hall Shows, Inyo County, Marine Recreation Association, Mono County Fisheries Association, Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, Penn Fishing, Pure Fishing, San Diego Tourism Authority, Sportfishing Association of California and Western Outdoor News, among others.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee also held Senate Bill 234, which proposed to require local fishing ordinances to be surveyed and evaluated for lawfulness.
Assembly Bill 986, which would require everyone age 16 and older to be issued a sportfishing license for 12 consecutive months, is still active and will be further considered by legislators in January 2018.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife photo