Connecticut Saltwater License
Recreational saltwater anglers now have a little more time before they are required to register under a new federal rule.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, the federal agency that manages fishing, announced Tuesday its final rule to help create a saltwater angler registry by 2010.
The announcement comes after agency officials reviewed the hundreds of comments it received from fishermen since it announced the proposed plan for the registry in June.
The rule requires that recreational saltwater fishermen be included in the national registry by 2010. Its proposed rule last summer had required registration by next month, but after public comment, the federal agency decided to allow another year for states to get their data collection systems in place.
”It gives us 12 months now. It'll save a lot of confusion for the public wondering how they are supposed to comply in the coming year,” said David Simpson, the director of the state's marine fisheries division.
The purpose of the registry, officials said, is to conduct more complete surveys and collect more accurate data on the amounts of fish caught and the size of fish stocks.
”Better national surveys of the more than 15 million saltwater anglers will help us demonstrate the important contributions of recreational anglers to both local economies and to the nation's,” Jim Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service, said in a news release.
Fishermen will be required to register annually, carry a certificate when fishing and pay a fee, likely to be no more than $25 under the federal rule. The fee would not be collected until 2011.
Saltwater fishermen who register with state fishing agencies would be exempt from registering with federal agencies. State agencies would supply information from their registries to the national registry.
Ct. State marine fishing officials expect to testify before the state legislature during the next session as the group works to get the state's version of the registry requirement in place.
If the legislature implements its version of the registry rule for saltwater fishing, Connecticut anglers would have to begin paying the fee when they are required to register starting in 2010.
By registering with the state, the money collected from the fees would be kept in Connecticut instead of being collected into the federal pot where the funds could be used for various projects.
”The logic naturally is if you pay a fee, you'd want to keep the money local rather than send it to the general treasury,” Simpson said.
All recreational anglers who fish in federal waters will be required to register, according to NOAA. Anglers must register if they fish in tidal waters for migratory fish, such as striped bass and salmon, that spawn in rivers and spend their adult lives in estuaries and oceans.
However, anglers who fish recreationally for migratory fish inland of tidal waters would not have to register.
Anglers who fish on licensed party or charter boats, have permits to fish for highly migratory species, such as tuna, or are 16 years old or younger would be exempt under the federal rule. Most of the 23 coastal states already have a license program for saltwater fishing. Only Hawaii and the states stretching from New Jersey to Maine don't require a permit.