A plan to require all saltwater recreational fishermen to obtain either a state or federal license has been postponed a year to January 2010. The notice by federal fisheries authorities came out recently; a plan to establish a Massachusetts recreational fishing license has also been postponed.
Paul Diodati, director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries, said he is pleased by the delay, as it gives federal authorities more time to work out details for the license.
The idea of the license comes from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration managers, who want improved catch and other data for recreational fishermen on boats and on the shore.
The first step is to establish a fishing license. It is estimated that there are 15 million recreational saltwater fishermen in the country. Only a handful of states have recreational fishing licenses that meet federal standards. None of the New England states have recreational saltwater fishing licenses. “New England states have continued to remain independent from this type of tracking system,” Mr. Diodati said.
There are two options for states that don’t have an approved fishing license in place: they must either come up with their own fishing license that meets the plan or the federal government will impose its own license requirement. The first year of the federal fishing license (2010) is free. There will be a fee charged in the second year. “It has become clear that the fishing public would prefer a state-administered program over the federal program,” Mr. Diodati said.
Creating a state saltwater fishing license will require legislation and the signature of the Massachusetts governor. Public forums on what is proposed in Massachusetts will take place in the new year, Mr. Diodati said.
Ed Jerome of Edgartown, president of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, is a member of a statewide advisory committee working on the details of a state recreational fishing license.
“Obviously we have a draft in Massachusetts that is moving ahead,” Mr. Jerome said. “We would have planned hearings. But with the federal government not moving forward, we want to see what new direction they take.”
The following states have recreational saltwater fishing licenses that meet federal requirements: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Delaware, North Carolina, California, Washington and Oregon.
States with saltwater recreational fishing licenses that do not meet the federal plan are Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.