Albany – A federal proposal requiring saltwater anglers to be
registered is viewed as perhaps another move toward a saltwater
And it could spark an initiative by DEC to license saltwater
“It’s kind of stupid not to have a (saltwater) license and have
the money go into the Conservation Fund,” said DEC Fisheries Bureau
Chief Steve Hurst on the heels of th proposal by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“We know some people are opposed to that, but DEC thinks a
saltwater license is a good thing to go with. We would like to have
one from our own management perspective, to get an idea of how many
anglers are out there and the fishing pressure.”
NOAA’s Fisheries Service said it wants to get more accurate data
on recreational fish catches. Commercial fishers already need
licenses or permits and thus would not have to register again, the
The registry is required under a change in the law and would
cover recreational fishing in federal waters as well as fishing
anywhere for what are called anadromous species, such as striped
bass, salmon and shad, that spawn in rivers and streams and spend
their adult lives in estuaries and the ocean.
“Under the proposal, by 2011 all states will have to have a
registry in place if they don’t have a saltwater license,” Hurst
Registrations would include an angler’s name, address, telephone
number and the regions where fishing is conducted. NOAA said the
information will not be made public and would be used only to
In New York, there has been sharp opposition from the saltwater
angling community in the New York metropolitan area and on Long
The Suffolk Alliance of Sportsmen has gone on record in
opposition of the registry and a saltwater fishing license, calling
“All of the information (a license or registry would provide) is
already available in the form of power boat registrations and beach
access permits,” the Alliance said in a letter to NOAA’s National
Marine Fisheries Service. “Any registration scheme is nothing more
than a covert attempt to produce another tax on the already
overtaxed sportsmen and women of this county.”
States that issue their own saltwater fishing licenses could
apply for an exemption if their records provide sufficient
information for the federal database. Those currently include the
states on the West Coast, including Alaska, the Gulf Coast and the
Alaska’s subsistence fishermen who are members of tribes likely
would be eligible for a waiver of the annual registration fees,
said Gordon Colvin, NOAA fisheries biologist.
Hawaii and the states from New Jersey to Maine do not offer such
licenses. The agency hopes the federal program will encourage those
states to start their own licensing programs.
Hurst says that’s possible as states may look to trump the
federal registry in an effort to generate license revenues.
The registry covers fishing in federal waters, which are
generally three miles off the coast. Exceptions are Texas and the
west coast of Florida, where federal waters begin nine miles off
NOAA said registration would be free the first two years and an
annual fee ranging from $15 to $25 would be imposed starting in
Those under age 16 would be exempt and fees would be waived for
indigenous people, such as members of federally recognized
Anglers who fish only on licensed party, charter or guide boats
would also be exempt, since those vessels are surveyed separately
from the angler surveys.
NOAA said it needs to get better data on recreational anglers to
be sure it protects fish stocks but doesn’t impose unnecessary
The proposed rule is open for public comment until Aug. 11.
Comments can be mailed to: John Boreman, Director, Office of
Science and Technology NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring,
MD 20910 Attn.: Gordon Colvin. Comments can also be submitted
electronically at http://www.regulations.gov.