California Fishing License Bill Idea Hoping For Senate Approval



The folks at the California Sportfishing  League have worked tirelessly to encourage the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to change its policy on fishing licenses and having them be valid for 12 months from the time of purchase (currently, all licenses bought, regardless of when the transaction takes places, will expire on Dec. 31).

Here’s a snippet of the reasoning behind California Sportfishing’s argument to change the rules, from its website:

California’s costly and antiquated fishing license program is in desperate need of reform.

Sales of annual license have declined over 55% since 1980. This is remarkable given that the state’s population increased over 60% during this same time period. And, while California has one of the nation’s longest coastlines, and thousands of rivers and lakes, its fishing participation rate ranks dead-last among all the states (per capita) in the country.

The crusade has picked up steam, and earlier this week, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s wrote an editorial supporting the idea of a change in policy, which California politicians are also prepared to introduce a bill that will be presented to the state senate this week.

Here’s Miller with more:

That’s why the decision facing an appropriations committee chaired by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher looms so large for an industry churning out an estimated annual impact of $4.6 billion – with a saltwater anchor in America’s Finest Fin-Obsessed City.

Gonzalez Fletcher’s group will decide by May 26 whether a bill sponsored by Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) survives to see the floor. The legislation could spark economic ripples through lowered fees, incentives for veterans and, most notably, a 12-month license that makes actual sense for consumers.

An online analysis of the bill by the appropriations committee outlines “DFW funding challenges” by citing a $20 million annual shortfall in its Fish and Game Preservation Fund.

The argument pointed out by California Sportfishing is that similar changes to the process in other states like Texas have increased revenue. Here’s more from Miler:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife shudders at the thought of a depressed revenue rivulet drying even more. There’s no doubt, however, for those doing the actual fishing.

“It’s going to be a good thing for fishermen, because a lot of people don’t start fishing until June or July. If they do that, it’s only good for like six months,” said Doug Kern, co-owner of Fisherman’s Landing.

“The 12-month license is likely to help everybody. It might get somebody to buy a yearly permit who might only buy a daily or a two-day. You might sell a ($47) license rather than a (one day, $15) license.”

There would be subtle benefits in San Diego, as well. An example: A point-of-purchase time clock would bring the state license in line with the system for a Mexican license.

Those purchasing Mexican licenses might be inclined to buy a yearly state license at the same time. It offers convenience and a way to remember when licenses expire, once they’re linked by a common date.

Again and always, action trumps inaction.

As if doubling down on a failed practice, DFW continues to bite the hand that feeds it, for the consequences of this failed marketing plan extends well beyond the future of recreational fishing.

Fishery and conservation programs are also at risk as fishing license sales fuel the Fish and Game Preservation Fund, which is facing an unprecedented $20 million deficit. This deficit will only grow as federal funding, assessed by the number of licenses sold, is reduced as annual license sales continue to decline.

While DFW ignores this reality, an unprecedented coalition of statewide associations representing business, labor, travel, hospitality, marinas and boat manufacturers are calling for reforms. Like throwing chum in the water to attract fish, California’s outdoor industry recognizes that anglers need incentives to continue fishing and the state Legislature appears poised to make change.

To increase fishing participation rates and sales, Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Fresno, has introduced Senate Bill 187. It will establish a fishing license valid a full 12 months from the date of purchase, very much the same as in 11 states and Mexico.

We’ll know more soon about the bill’s fate and if the senate sends it to the floor.