State legislature tries again at fishing license reform

Assembly member Jim Wood introduces bill to make license valid for 365 days; the proposal also pushes to create mobile phone application.

SACRAMENTO—Will a new batch of legislators produce different results? State Sen. Tom Berryhill is no longer serving in Sacramento as a legislator yet the fight to make the 12-month fishing license a reality in California continues – and this time it’s Assembly member Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, who’s picked up the torch.

Wood introduced Assembly Bill 1387 (AB 1387), calling for California to drop its calendar-based fishing license scheme in favor for a 365-day system. All sportfishing licenses in California expire on Dec. 31 of the year it was purchased, regardless of purchase date. Wood’s bill, if signed into law, would allow anglers to maintain their license for 365 days from the date of purchase.

Assembly member James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, and 12 other legislators representing both parties co-authored the bill, which was also sponsored by the California Sportfishing League (CSL).

AB 1387 proposes to eliminate California’s calendar-based fishing license scheme and replace it with a 12-month regime. Anglers would pay the same fee for the 12-month license as they would under the current calendar-based scheme.

The proposal also calls for California Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a mobile application for anglers to view sportfishing and hunting licenses on their respective devices.

Automatic license renewals could also be in effect should Wood’s proposed legislation, as introduced, becomes law. CSL, in a press release, state an automatic renewal system in Florida resulted in a four percent increase of fishing license renewals.

Anglers could begin using the 12-month fishing license as early as Jan. 1, 2021, assuming AB 1387 is approved by legislators and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Recreational fishing advocates have been campaigning for license reform for several years now. Berryhill proposed a shift from calendar scheme to 12-month system on at least three occasions during his time in Sacramento – each attempt failed to make it to the governor’s desk for consideration.

Fishing participation in California has been on the decline since 1980, according to a CSL statement. Switching to a 12-month fishing license system could begin the process of reversing the downward trend, the CSL statement continued, citing a Southwick and Associates study entitled “Considerations Regarding 365-Day Fishing Licenses.”

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