Very, very low cost youth fishing license being considered

Tom VeneskyWould you buy a fishing license if it only cost $1?

Sure you would.

How about if that same license was $1 and voluntary? Would you still hand over a dollar for a license even if you weren't required to possess one to fish?

That's a question that the state's youth may be faced with as the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission looks for ways to increase revenue without raising license fees.

During a public forum with the agency last week in Luzerne County, commissioner Norm Gavlick was questioned about talk that the agency may close two hatcheries and reduce the number of trout stocked by about 750,000.

It was a concern to anglers in attendance. Some even suggested that the agency raise license fees and seemed very willing to pay a little more if it meant preventing a cut in trout production.

Gavlick cautioned that a license fee hike usually results in a drop in anglers – 10 percent the following year. With fewer licenses being sold, the commission would receive less reimbursement from the federal government.

"We don't want to raise license fees," Gavlick said. "There are possible changes being looked at now."

One of them, according to Gavlick, is the implementation of a youth fishing license for those under 16. The parameters have yet to be defined and talk is preliminary, but the goal is to sell more licenses – without raising fees, and realize more federal reimbursement.

Gavlick acknowledged that elected officials have voiced their opposition to a youth license in the past, but there's a new twist that could change opinions.

Rather than make a youth license mandatory, the permit could be voluntary, Gavlick said. And it could carry a nominal fee – say a dollar, so cost wouldn't be an issue.

But why would someone spend even a buck on something they aren't required to have in order to fish?

Because it would help the agency and, in the bigger picture, fishing in general. The agency's federal reimbursement is based on the number of licenses sold. A voluntary youth license for a dollar would count.

And kids would want it. Every child wants to feel grown up like their parents, and buying their very own fishing license is a great way to do it. A parent could buy their child a youth license every year, without breaking the bank, and the agency would get some much-needed revenue in the form of the federal reimbursement.

Not bad for a buck.  

Categories: Pennsylvania – Tom Venesky

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