From the California Sportfishing League:
Today, the California Sportfishing League announced that the California Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 2015 (SB 345) may not advance in the California State Assembly this year, unless a key provision of the legislation is reintroduced.
In June, Senate Bill 345 passed the State Senate by a unanimous vote, but without a key provision that would replace California’s calendar-based fishing license system with one that is valid for a full 12 months from the date of purchase. The provision aimed to provide greater value to one the costliest fishing licenses in the country.
The decision by Senate Appropriations Committee to gut a key provision of the legislation angered anglers concerned with the State’s failure to recognize and provide solutions to an unprecedented decline in fishing participation. While the legislation enjoyed unprecedented support from associations representing anglers, tourism, small business and local government, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was the lone opponent.
“The fact that California is facing an unprecedented decline in fishing license sales is an ominous sign that anglers find fishing too expensive and less accessible than in years past,” said Marko Mlikotin, CSL’s executive director. “Yet, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to defend the status quo and has failed to engage the angling community in reversing a dangerous trend. Unfortunately, this failure of leadership will undermine the amount of revenue generated from fishing license sales that fund fishery management plans, fish hatcheries and conservation programs. Absent meaningful reform, fishing license sales face a death spiral.”
Sharing this disappointment, SB 345’s author remains committed to advancing meaningful reforms that have been successful in other states, even if it means reintroducing the legislation next year.
“California’s fishing license structure makes no sense and must be updated to include a system that meshes with the seasonal ebbs and flows of California’s fishing industry; which means replacing the calendar year license with a 12-consecutive month license. This point is underscored when we move into the fall and the number of fishing licenses purchased trickles down to nothing; while the fishing remains great in many areas of the state,” said the bill’s author, Senator Tom Berryhill of Twain Hart. “I am committed to working with the Fish and Game Commission, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the legislature to craft a fishing license structure that will bring revenue back to the state and anglers back to the water. License sales in California have been on a straight decline for 35 years. We cannot let bureaucrats, clinging to an antiquated system, continue to block progress.”
In March of 2015, the California Sportfishing League released a study that concluded that the number of annual fishing license sales has decline over 55% since 1980, and at a rate of over 35,000 a year. The decline threatens critical hatchery and habitat restoration programs funded by fishing license sales, and federal grants that are awarded based by the number of fishing licenses sold.
Senate Bill 345, sponsored by the California Sportfishing League and introduced by Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) and Assembly Member Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals). The legislation is supported by one of the largest and most diverse coalitions, including anglers, business, labor, local government and tourism. For more information about SB345 and to view a supporter list of over of 25 associations, visit CSL’s website or click here.
Recreational fishing contributes over $4.9 billion in economic activity each year, supporting jobs and communities dependent on it for outdoor recreation and tourism.
The California Sportfishing League (CSL) is a nonprofit coalition of fresh and saltwater anglers, and small business owners devoted to protecting access to recreational fishing.
To learn more visit www.SportfishingConservation.org or @CASportfishing on Twitter.