Fish & Boat Commission increases permit fees to cover costs, remains hopeful for license fee hike
Well, there’s good news and bad news on the fishing and boating front in Pennsylvania.
First, the good news: Following the July meeting of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat commissioners, the commission announced that it has deferred its decision to follow through with proposed spending cuts, including the threatened closing of hatcheries and a reduction in stocked trout.
At least for now, it looks like that won’t happen. Seemingly, the agency’s stick-to-your-guns style of political posturing won out, as the chairmen of the House and Senate Game and Fisheries Committees recently pledged to seek increased funding for the commission during their next legislative session.
Now for the bad news: The Fish & Boat Commission still needs to make up for the $2 million it was planning to recover as a result of those proposed spending cuts, and the agency got “creative” with how to do so.
Here’s what appears to be coming for recreational anglers and boaters in the state:
- Four voluntary permits: Habitat Conservation Improvement permit; muskie permit; wild trout and enhanced waters permit; bass permit.
- Fee for the annual fishing Regs and Laws Summary book (following the Game Commission’s lead).
- Property use and entrance permit for those without a fishing license, launch permit or boat registration.
- Scientific collector’s permit fee increase.
- Permit fees for triploid grass carp, snapping turtles, venomous snakes, and organized reptile and amphibian hunts.
- Seasonal mooring slip fee increase at Walnut Creek Marina.
- Proposed 2019 increase in launch permit fee.
According to a Fish & Boat Commission press release, “These proposed increases in permit fees are in line with U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index tool that is based on annual inflation rates. Proposed increases are from $5 to $30 depending on the permit. Some of these permits have not been increased since 2008.”
Anyone who ever took a high school economics class should understand inflation and the need to raise funding to keep up with the times, but an aggressive laundry list of fee hikes at one time may be a tough sell for some boaters and anglers who already complain that fishing licenses are too costly in the state.
I get it, as I’m sure many do. But we’ll see if these decisions are generally well received by the general public or if the commission gets blow back from its customers over the course of the next year.
Time will tell, but I can already predict some heated discussions on Facebook looming in the near future.