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Merwin: Have You Gotten Your Saltwater License?

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January 04, 2010

Merwin: Have You Gotten Your Saltwater License?

By John Merwin

Like it or not, a federal saltwater fishing-license requirement became effective on January 1. It applies to most coastal anglers in those states that do not otherwise require saltwater licensing, such as New Jersey and Rhode Island. And it is hugely contentious.

Saltwater angling for fish such as striped bass has been essentially free for generations of anglers in the Northeast, albeit subject to growing size and bag limits for various species. That’s been the case for so long that many surfcasters, for example, take their otherwise unencumbered fishing as an absolute individual right, as opposed to the licensed privilege granted freshwater anglers by their respective states.

Not any more. Over the weekend, I went online and became a federally “registered” saltwater angler. For 2010, the permit is free. After that, the feds will be charging for it. This has led some states such as Connecticut and New York to newly enact their own marine fishing license programs. If I had bought--as I still might--a New York marine license, for example, I would not need to register federally. And holding the new federal permit does not exempt me from any state licensing requirement.

Other states--New Jersey and Rhode Island again--are still in a muddle with no state-enacted marine licenses yet. But there probably will be. Otherwise, and without a state-enacted license program, license monies starting in 2011 will go to the feds instead of the states. I happen to think that saltwater-fishing licenses are a good idea and way overdue as long as the money derived goes back into the resource for management and enforcement. There are thousands of Northeastern anglers screaming bloody murder over this, however, who still can’t accept that fishing is a somewhat-limited privilege and not an inalienable right.

Comments (9)

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from alabamaoutlaw wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

In Alabama if you fish on or South of I-10 you have to have a salt water license.This area and south includes several freshwater rivers and creeks,No money going to hatcheries or new boat ramps ,Just bigger nicer boats for the fed and state wardens

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I really doubt sportfishing poses half the threat to damaged oceanic ecosystems as do trawlers and draggers. Enhanced regulation of salt water sport fishermen isn't likely to help anything much, except ever expanding beurocracy. The more people enjoy our varied coastal waters (in whatever fashion) the more people will care about the condition of the sea and the more resources will be dedicated to addressing maritime issues. Discouraging fishermen cannot help.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Still no saltwater license required here in NB,
CA for all species except Atlantic Salmon.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

It's a shame that we need hunting & fishing licenses at all, but reality dictates that we can't turn back the clock to a time when fish & game were plentiful, and pavement didn't dominate the landscape. In Florida, we've had salt water licenses for a long time now, recently extended to shore anglers--and the commercial fishermen still get the lion's share of the catch. I don't like it but it's just one of those unpleasant side effects of human population growth.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I could maybe understand if they expanded the fishing licenses we already have to purchase for fresh water to salt, but to have to purchase a Separate salt water license? Bah. Bah! Whoever said redundancy is good? (oops, I might have said that once or twice!)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from riverdemon10 wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I dont understand what the purpose of a SW License is. In RI nothing has happened without one. All it is gonna do is help the State Tax. Its not going to deter fisherman from fishing the waters. The license is not very expensive in states that you do have to pay for it and no harm comes to any states that dont have it. States have had SW fisheries for years without one. I do agree however that if the revenue would be used to help the fishery then it is a good idea but unfortunately here in RI the the draggers tear up the bottom and that is irreplaceble damage.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Damn I WANTED TO MOVE BACK TO FL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Moishe, we'll welcome you back if you change your mind. My gold sportsman license is about $100--includes hunting, salt & fresh fishing, lobster, snook, turkey, muzzleloader, wildlife management permit and all the other freakin licenses you might want (except alligator)--insect repellant & sunscreen not included.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

seadog, I can only come back it I leave the ball & chain :(

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Post a Comment

from bigjake wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Still no saltwater license required here in NB,
CA for all species except Atlantic Salmon.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from alabamaoutlaw wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

In Alabama if you fish on or South of I-10 you have to have a salt water license.This area and south includes several freshwater rivers and creeks,No money going to hatcheries or new boat ramps ,Just bigger nicer boats for the fed and state wardens

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I really doubt sportfishing poses half the threat to damaged oceanic ecosystems as do trawlers and draggers. Enhanced regulation of salt water sport fishermen isn't likely to help anything much, except ever expanding beurocracy. The more people enjoy our varied coastal waters (in whatever fashion) the more people will care about the condition of the sea and the more resources will be dedicated to addressing maritime issues. Discouraging fishermen cannot help.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

It's a shame that we need hunting & fishing licenses at all, but reality dictates that we can't turn back the clock to a time when fish & game were plentiful, and pavement didn't dominate the landscape. In Florida, we've had salt water licenses for a long time now, recently extended to shore anglers--and the commercial fishermen still get the lion's share of the catch. I don't like it but it's just one of those unpleasant side effects of human population growth.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from riverdemon10 wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I dont understand what the purpose of a SW License is. In RI nothing has happened without one. All it is gonna do is help the State Tax. Its not going to deter fisherman from fishing the waters. The license is not very expensive in states that you do have to pay for it and no harm comes to any states that dont have it. States have had SW fisheries for years without one. I do agree however that if the revenue would be used to help the fishery then it is a good idea but unfortunately here in RI the the draggers tear up the bottom and that is irreplaceble damage.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from seadog wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Moishe, we'll welcome you back if you change your mind. My gold sportsman license is about $100--includes hunting, salt & fresh fishing, lobster, snook, turkey, muzzleloader, wildlife management permit and all the other freakin licenses you might want (except alligator)--insect repellant & sunscreen not included.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

seadog, I can only come back it I leave the ball & chain :(

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bella wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I could maybe understand if they expanded the fishing licenses we already have to purchase for fresh water to salt, but to have to purchase a Separate salt water license? Bah. Bah! Whoever said redundancy is good? (oops, I might have said that once or twice!)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Damn I WANTED TO MOVE BACK TO FL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment