Saltwater fishing license - your opinions [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Saltwater fishing license - your opinions

03-13-2000, 09:16 AM

I would like to determine what the board members would think about a coastal fishing license. Would you support it? Or would you be against it? If you respond, please indicate which it would be and why.

Many other states (Florida and Texas come to mind immediately) require the purchase of a saltwater license for recreational anglers. We pay a license fee for freshwater angling in the states (US) and provinces (Canada), and I assume that is the way it is everywhere. Why should it be different in the saltwater arena? The freshwater resource is owned by everyone (the citizens here in the US), so that argument about the ocean doesn't hold up to me.

Don't get me wrong, I am not for any more government intervention as a whole - just got the tax request for re-newing my firearms identification card (FID), which is just an effort to remove firearms from law-abiding citizens - but I digress. A license doesn't have to be expensive. My idea would be to have a nominal fee for in-state and out-of-state anglers, or perhaps a tag for the taking of a striper or bluefish. This would allow the agencies managing harvest regulations access to better information. We would have a solid idea on resource pressure and harvest rates, much more so than creel surveys now used. Plus the biggest benefit for the recreational fisherman would be a voice when it comes to management issues. You would be providing money into the system and you would have to be heard when issues concerning striped bass regs are brought up. Why do you think the commercials have some weight (not that they are all bad), it is because they put their money where there mouth is - in the form of fees to enter the fishery.

Plus, the government allocates money based on Wallop-Breaux and Dingell-Johnson (bills for funding agencies based on excise tax on equipment and fuel, etc) that is apportioned based on license holders per-capita (I believe). So there may be the possibility to get more of a contribution to our already underfunded agencies. That money could be used to provide better monitoring of our resources, and provide money for additional biologists (my selfish motive).

Well, what are your ideas on the matter?


03-13-2000, 11:40 AM
Pete -

I am in support of licenses for saltwater angling in Massachusetts. I've recently come to learn that the majority of sport angling for striped bass, and thus the impact thereof - belongs to the bay state. I would gladly pay for the right and privilege to continue to enjoy the fishery, and am also in favor or a tag system for keeper fish (although I elect to kill very few keepers).

BUT - I would like it to be spent differently than the typical MA cash windfall. I won't mention the big dig, MBTA, Mass Pike, or any of those nasty precedents (oops too late). I would like it to fund more than just research but in addition ENFORCEMENT of the license and tag laws, and to fund guys like you to look at the problem from a national level - verses the mismatch of parochial state management disparities that exists today. What a mess! As I said before, in a sick kind of way it's benefit is that it introduces diversity into the population. The problem with this is, it's not based on any correlative theme across regions and governments.

In the end, instead of making it exploitative, we should build a benefit for guides and charter captains for selling and enforcing these laws (however "token" the commission may be). We should also make it very serious for offenders.

To this debate I ask the following two questions:

1) How many times have you been asked by tourists whether a license is needed for SW fishing in MA?

2) How many times have the tourists been surprised about the reply?

My answers:

1) Many, many, many times.
2) Just as many.

I vote yay.


03-13-2000, 01:09 PM
Pete- I would have no problem with a saltwater license if the fees went to the fishery(recreational) for enforcement, access aquisition(like R.I.),and further study not controlled by the commercial interests.
This latter point I have some tangentially related experience. I was a commercial shellfisherman in RI and as the equipment got more efficient(tongs-bullrakes) the amount of the catch decreased to the point that you could not make a living. Add to that increased pollution and things really got low. Fin fishing is going the same way. If these large boats carried dories and put 1 man in each who fished with tub and trawl type system maybe Nature could keep up with our needs.
However I feel that the fees would end up in the general treasury and the fishery would not see any of the money- can you tell I distrust politicians. ron

03-13-2000, 02:45 PM
Ron and Juro,

I agree that the only way that I would personally support it is if all the money was kept by the Mass Division of Marine Resources, perhaps some could also be given to the MassWildlife. If the money were siphoned off to the state coffers it would be a waste and a tax on the recreational fisherman. Remember the state was supposed to take down the tolls on the Mass Pike when it was paid off - Hah!!!! The details would of course have to be worked out, but it does seem like it could be worked out - if someone tried to divert the money flow I'm sure someone would sue the state.

Anyway, I also agree there should be more support for enforcement of the regulations and stricter penalties when caught. There really is a lot of coastline to cover, as well as inland resources for the EPO's that are already out there doing their job. Perhaps a few more officers could be hired to reduce the territory each covers and allow them to cover a smaller area better. Securing access is another big point that Ron brought up. I agree, it doesn't matter much to fishermen if the ocean is teaming with fish if you can't launch your boat, or fish from shore. In years past, I have felt like a criminal walking down to some beach accesses, and when you get to the fact that many areas have no parking, or you risk a ticket for being there. That is definitely a need we have in the Bay State anyway, as our population grows and open land shrinks. Plus once people shell out the bucks for the waterfront diggs the last thing they want is some fishermen spoiling their view (Caution - sweeping generalization).

I really don't see too much of a downside to a saltwater license, provided it was set up correctly. The MA DMF would receive needed funds for research and managment activities, enforcement would increase, and access may increase or at least not be lost. From my standpoint though, the biggest improvement would be to gain solid info on our harvest rates of popular gamefish, and to gain a better idea of the pressure that the resource receives. That way proactive managment decisions can be made to maintain acceptable levels of fish. Having more complete information lessens the uncertainty in setting regulations and that will benefit everyone in the long run.

As a side benefit, the recreational anglers can then go into meetings saying "you better consider us in your decision making process, as we contribute $$$$ to the region and provide $$$ to the running of your agency." In other words, we are a force to be rekoned with and we should at least be given the same status as other groups. You may even find that the recreational side brings considerably more economic impact to a greater amount of people than other competing interests.....


Interested to hear more....

03-13-2000, 09:12 PM
The DMF would have to get it's act together before I would support a SWL.

03-13-2000, 10:02 PM

What could they do to get their act together? Or, what have they done that you thought they could do better?

I am not an apologist for that organization, but I tend to think that they are trying to do their best. Something that isn't easy when you are trying to satisfy everybody. Agencies in charge of natural resources always get dumped on as inefficient, bureaucratic organizations that study everything to death before deciding to study it some more. While I am sure that occurs, it is hard to carry out any meaningful monitoring or research into what is driving population fluctuations without any money. Perhaps it is a good sign that all sides are PO'd at you, as you must be doing it right and not favoring one or the other.

Striped bass fishing is a huge boon to the Massachusetts economy. You only have to look at how many people are at Plum Island, or fishing around the Cape to see that participation is high. That translates into a good deal of money being pumped into lodging, restaurants, corner stores, etc. Why shouldn't a small percentage be used to help out the resource - by providing a nominal amount of cash per individual. When adding up the thousands upon thousands of individuals that participate you could raise some needed revenue to provide 1) additional enforcement, 2) secure easements to maintain access, and/or 3) hire another biologist or conduct some additional research.

It really does seem like a no-brainer for me, but I do understand people's reluctance, as they have been burned in the past, and I've never heard of a license fee going down. However, we don't give too much thought to buying another rod, purchasing the new Redington reel, getting that new line or buying that new pair of waders, yet we balk at the idea of putting $10 towards a saltwater license. For the cost of going to the Marlboro fly fishing show and getting a soft drink, or better yet two lottery scratch tickets you could be contributing to a resource that a lot of spend a whole lot of time talking about protecting. People talk about joining an organization to do good and be represented, well I can see no better way of letting those agencies know you are there and that your best interests have to be taken into account.

Again, I am biased about the issue, but it is just my $0.02


03-14-2000, 05:50 AM
The DMF will get their act together when we the fisherman as a large group point them in the direction we would like them to go. A license might be a way to get folks involved more. It would be important I think to have an oversite commission of some kind made up of rec fisherman to approve or disaprove of how the monies were spent. ASMFC put out a report on salt water licensing in 1994 different people from different states talk about the pro's and con's of a salt license it's quite interesting.

03-14-2000, 08:06 AM
The irony here is that the rec. fishermen ALREADY dump heaploads of money into the economy. Why would a few more dollars make the pols change policy in our favor? I always cite a statistic that the Salmon Federation used to use re: Salmon caught in Canada:<font color="FF0000">
* Catch a salmon in commercial net generates x dollars to local economy.
* Catch same salmon on recreational rod and generate 10x dollars to local economy. </font><!--color-->
Is this not why the Canadians started buying out fishing boats? This is where we need to go. I guess I'm just not sure about the SWL. It might be a bandaid for now but every little bit helps.


Nathan Smith
03-14-2000, 11:31 AM
I am in support of a license only if all the money went to the Mass fisheries dept or Wildlife dept.

03-14-2000, 12:41 PM
ok, Here's my take on the issue "NO F@#%ING WAY"!!!!! Don't you guys realise this would change our status totally! As the laws stand in this state... we cann'ot be barred from access to all land between tide lines, that is below mean high tide. if you make us buy a license you would group us with people who are allowed to paticipate in an activity as a privilege,read that as (YOU LOST YOUR RIGHT TO FISH). now, picture 20 or so years down the road, do you really think all those rich people with ocean front property are going to allow you to participate in an activity that is a privilege"IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE", not likely... just my take on the idea. Tom

03-14-2000, 01:06 PM
I know that recreational fishermen contribute more to the regional economy than do the commercial interests, I don't think that can be disputed by even Capt. Mark. What the commercial guys have had going for them was the traditional use of the fisheries for commercial purposes. This long standing use has enabled them to develop into a powerful organization that has the ear of the local politicians, who in turn exert pressure on down the chain. This group is very vocal and is always looking out for their interests of their members, which is what they should do. All they have to do is mention the loss of jobs to regions such as the Gloucester and New Bedford area, due to closures or other restrictions and Senators and Congressional delagates are pressuring NMFS and state agencies to open up areas, extend seasons, or boost trip limits. Recreational SW fisherman don't have the same pull. There are organizations trying to represent recreational anglers, however they are playing catch up and don't have everyone on board. Recreational fishing has really come on in the past twenty years, you could probably track it right with the rise in abundance of the striped bass. I realize that recreational fishing has roots a lot older than that, however we have entered a period where the revenue that is generated by recreational anglers outstrips that of commercial interests. As such, there may be a need to refocus the attention of management agencies to the larger constituency. The easiest way to do that is to become an important part of their annual budget. You don't see MassWildlife managing for non-game species do you? The answer is no, because there revenue is directly tied into the license sales of hunters and freshwater anglers. They have to take the approach of managing for their "bread and butter" constituents. Of course the run the Natural Heritage Program for non-game, however, it doesn't get an equal share of the pie. That is what a SW license could do. I am not in agreement with having an advisory board of recreational fishermen overseeing what direction the agency goes in. I personally think that is a mistake. Those guys are professionals and will make every effort to manage the resource correctly. There are way to many passionate anglers that think they can do a better job of managing than the biologists, something I strongly disagree with. Not that there can't be input, but look at some of the differing opinions that pop up within our own group. I can see it now bait guys claiming the fly guys are getting to many concessions and/or the fly and artificail guys wanting to eliminate bait fishermen. That is just a hypothetical, but hopefully you can see my point that an advisory board may not be best. IMO (i'll say it again) one of the best benefits - is the information obtained through a license or tag system would allow us as a state to know <b>with a higher degree of certainty</b> how heavily the resource is being used, allowing us to get better harvest estimates. It is hard to make decisions without complete information - this would allow some money to get that info. Having names and addresses could lead to angler surveys to assess economic impact, angler days, catch-per-unit-effort, etc. Another benefit is the additional money that could be used for the beneficial purposes mentioned above.

Interesting to hear your opinions

03-14-2000, 01:15 PM
"As a side benefit, the recreational anglers can then go into meetings saying "you better consider us in your decision making process, as we contribute $$$$ to the region and provide $$$ to the running of your agency."

An observation:

1. we already do this
2. it still doesn't necessarily make a bit of difference in influencing their decisions because what is our recourse?

We already contribute tons of $$$ through our industry-related purchases and our tax dollars do fund the organizations. Here is the catch--if we say, "well, by buying a license we are contributing direct capital to the program so you better take our views into consideration or"....or what? We will stop this direct flow of capital by not buying licenses? I think we are all too obsessed with this sport to do something like that.

I'm not trying to be a wise-ass, but if there is no direct accountability that we can control through voter representation (rather than appointment), there is no reason why the state could not take more of our money and still ignore us.

The situation is very similar to the status of the Boston Bruins (I hate to do this but can't help myself): we pay to see the team and supply the majority of revenue; the team sucks due to poor ownership and management decisions and a general lack of spending to improve the overall situation; the owner has no incentive to spend more of his money (our money, but his profit) because for years, even though the team has been horrible, the fans keep coming and spending money because they love hockey. Until the seats are empty and the owner gets hit in the wallet, little will be done.

The situation is similar--if I start paying for a license, i will never stop because I will never give up fishing, even if they spend my license fee on hookers and beer and do nothing to improve the fishery.

So money does not always equal power, votes do. We need more direct representation.

Just one of my several concerns, others having already been mentioned, like keeping the money out of a general fund v. a fishery targeted one...


03-14-2000, 01:47 PM
1. &gt;&gt;As the laws stand in this state... we cann'ot be barred from access to all land between tide lines, that is below mean high tide. if you make us buy a license you would group us with people who are allowed to paticipate in an activity as a privilege,read that as (YOU LOST YOUR RIGHT TO FISH). &lt;&lt;

Nice point. Never allow a right to be turned into a privilege.

On other points made thus far:

2. &gt;&gt;The DMF will get their act together when we the fisherman as a large group point them in the direction we would like them to go.&lt;&lt;

Yes, but not bloody likely. Fishermen are cantankerous as individuals and impossible in groups. Even the various recreation alliances [CCA, Mass Bass] can't get on the same page. Then people turn to the false dichotomy of "recreational vs. commercial", lumping charter boats in with recreationals. The charters are the guys calling for more killed fish every year.

3. Political reality. I'm not going to get lathered over this, because it's unlikely to come to pass. One of the things that the Striped Bass has going for it is that it's both a blue-blood and a blue-collar fish. There are too many lunchbucket guys who've fished for these critters for too long for anyone to impose a new fee on them. This is a populist state.

Heck, I can afford it. I'd gladly contribute some $$ to improve the fishery. In fact, I already do. I don't think that we anglers need to put on another hair shirt to advance our cause.

03-14-2000, 05:00 PM
Jeff G. and Mr. Powers,

Thanks for the input. I'd like you all to keep in mind that I have not proposed the mechanisms for the license only an idea.

To take a couple of comments from the thread below:
1. &gt;&gt;As the laws stand in this state... we cann'ot be barred from access to all land between tide lines, that is below mean high tide. if you make us buy a license you would group us with people who are allowed to paticipate in an activity as a privilege,read that as (YOU LOST YOUR RIGHT TO FISH).&lt;&lt;

How does this differ from the access laws we have for fishing on streams. In Massachusetts no one owns the stream channel. I'd agree that hunting is a little different, but there it is more of a public safety issue, although somewhat misguided in some cases.

[The situation is similar--if I start paying for a license, i will never stop because I will never give up fishing, even if they spend my license fee on hookers and beer and do nothing to improve the fishery.] - jeffg

Why is there a difference between saltwater and freshwater resources, and why do people pay freshwater licenses, but object to paying for saltwater? People bitch about green fees, ski-lift tickets, price of a movie - but still pay them. Why should this form of recreation/entertainment be free? I agree that we pump a lot of money into various factions related to fishing gear/travel/etc. but these agencies are not getting a ton of money. Plus, do you really believe that is what happens to you license revune over in Westboro???

[Political reality. I'm not going to get lathered over this, because it's unlikely to come to pass. One of the things that the Striped Bass has going for it is that it's both a blue-blood and a blue-collar fish. There are too many lunchbucket guys who've fished for these critters for too long for anyone to impose a new fee on them. This is a populist state.] - Mr. Powers

Your right, it probably will never come to pass, so it is not worth the time I have spent even bringing it up. I fail to see that the demographic makeup of the freshwater hunting and fishing crowd is any different than the coastal recreational angler, if anything I'd say if you looked at both groups they would probably be more blue collar for the FW angling/hunters - as this state certainly isn't a destination spot to hunt whitetails or catch trout in the Deerfield or Swift.

I think I also read that we (SW anglers) are already well represented, so that our voice is already heard. While CCA and the other organizations do good work towards changing the regulations and having a voice to protect and enhance SW causes - they are still relatively small groups. I cannot stress the analogy with the state's other wildlife agency (MassWildlife)enough - a huge majority of their working budget is gathered either directly or indirectly from license sales - as such, they are prone to look after the resources that their license holders value most. For fisherman, that is to keep the ponds and rivers stocked with catchable fish. We may not agree with stocking, but that is what makes the majority of occasinal anglers happy - the ability to take the kids to the local stocked stream or pond and catch a fish.

I don't view this as "Big Brother" looking to come in and whittle our rights away, or get more money to blow on frivolous things. If you guys had any idea of the tight fiscal conditions these agencies operate under you'd probably be pretty surprised, maybe a little PO'd. The prolonged lack of money does have some consequences - those consequences are the lack of any work other than maintaining the status quo and occasionally funding some research. You may be surprised by the quality of work that could be turned out by the agencies everyone loves to target if they were given some tools (i.e., $$$). I know they are an easy target, and sometimes the criticism has been valid, but the license has the potential to be a positive, not just for the MADMF, but to our coastal fisheries.

03-14-2000, 06:27 PM
Pete, thanks for the comments and the sustained interest. I'm Mike Powers, btw, not "Mr.". Lots of the usual suspects know me from other BBSs, so I wasn't too careful in choosing a screenname.

I'm not rabidly averse to an SW license. I buy lots of licenses to hunt and fish in lots of states, or at least have done so from year to year. There is one point that JeffG brought up that's maybe a little more nuanced than you gave credit for, so I'll just try to fine tune it.

In re: access rights --

&gt;&gt; How does this differ from the access laws we have for fishing on streams. In Massachusetts no one owns the stream channel. &lt;&lt;

No one may technically own a stream channel (I don't know, but I'll go with you on that], but access to streams may be legally restricted if they are not navigable and if the property on both banks is private and posted.

We have in Massachusetts (and in Maine, which in colonial times was a territory of Mass.) a law dating from ca. 1648 which guarantees the right to traverse the intertidal zone for the purpose of fishing or fowling.

The concern that JeffG noted was that licensing fishermen might migrate this right into the realm of privilege, and privileges are always at greater risk. [The flaw in this argument, which occurred to me as I type, is that you can't go fowling without a license either.]

Anyway, I would look at your efforts to provoke thought on licensing in "bang for the buck" terms. Not, will the license $ achieve the best results, but what sort of organizational/political efforts will have the greatest direct impact on the health of the fishery. I don't think a big brouhaha over license fees will result in as much benefit as a concerted effort to allign the interests of the various recreational groups and present a concerted cogent message to the regulatory bodies.


03-14-2000, 06:38 PM
Ditto Nathan!
Only if ALL the money went back into fisheries/wildlife!

03-15-2000, 06:34 AM
Mike and the rest of the contributors,

Mike (I thought it was Mike, but didn't want to screw it up). Thank you for taking the time to respond back.

I can see some weaknesses in my argument, specifically that there would be no recourse if the agencies decided to blow the money, and you'd still be on the hook for the license fee. But, I think if those ideas were hashed out before the license or tag was instituted (not like the new automobile emissions sticker fiasco) there would be less room for unmet expectations or disatisfaction among the angling community. Your not going to please all the people, there will be some that object no matter how good the reasons.

There is one point that you made and I'll quote it becuase anyone viewing this thread probably could view it from either a pro or con license position:

&gt;&gt;Anyway, I would look at your efforts to provoke thought on licensing in "bang for the buck" terms. Not, will the license $ achieve the best results, but what sort of organizational/political efforts will have the greatest direct impact on the health of the fishery. <i>I don't think a big brouhaha over license fees will result in as much benefit as a concerted effort to allign the interests of the various recreational groups and present a concerted cogent message to the regulatory bodies.</i>&lt;&lt;

I would argue that a license is neccesary, as there are a number of small groups that represent the recreational community now and they don't neccesarily speak with one voice. I'm not saying that everyone would be supportive of the same things once alicense is instituted either. But when it comes time to divy up the resource pie a look at licenses sold per year and how that contributes to the running of your agency might make you think twice about the allocation of resources. A license would (again IMO) give the angler more of a voice - another analogy is a stockholder of a company - you don't have any say at the annual meeting about the operation of the company if you don't own some stock. Please don't view my comments as putting down the efforts of conservation organizations (i.e CCA, MassBass, TU, etc.) they are involved and working towards their goals, however, membership is small compared to the whole and managers realize this.

Have a good morning, I better get to work


03-15-2000, 09:31 AM
How about instituting a tax on recreational fishing gear instead of a license? This would clearly represent us in terms of funding and give us the same voice as license fees would - perhaps more, it would eliminate the need for licensing enforcement efforts, it would eliminate the "right to priveledge" problem, and finaly, those who use the resource more would pay more.

03-15-2000, 09:56 AM
Hi Pete,
For the record, I know they don't blow their budget on hookers and beer (unlike some other state officials--do harbor cruises with topless girls ring a bell), I was just being funny.

I would like to respond to one point that you may have misunderstood me on though--the money issue. It is not the idea of giving my money to pay for an activity I enjoy that bothers me, although comparing saltwater fishing to greensfees, skiing or movies seems pretty offbase for a host of reasons I won't get into.

It is your statement that paying money will suddenly give we, the public, a greater voice in the process. Without a series of contemperaneous changes to the system that would go along with collecting license fees, I am simply not convinced we, the public, could hold anyone any more accountable for decisions over the fishery than we currently can.

Unless money is accompanied by direct representaion on decision-making bodies, or the right to vote members onto decision-making bodies, that capital input will not equal political power. You liken the scenario to a corporation with the public being shareholders, but shareholders vote in the directers, and have the power to vote them out when they are unhappy.

As I see it, the issue is recourse and accountability, and we currently have the benefit of neither. If I truly believed a license would provide these, I'd be all for it.

Thanks for listening,

Jeff Ganguly

03-15-2000, 11:08 AM
&gt;&gt;How about instituting a tax on recreational fishing gear instead of a license?&lt;&lt;

You're in luck, Greg. You're already paying this tax. It's called Wallop-Breaux and it does exactly what you propose.

03-15-2000, 11:11 AM
Jeff G.,

Yeah Jeff I knew you were not serious about that, Massport is a different story I definitely see your point and understand your skepticism regarding licenses.

It is hard to convey the intent of messages over this medium, it is much better to have a verbal conversation, as it is easier to get a better idea of what someone means and the tone they say it in. BTW - please don't take my opinions as hostile or belligerent - I try to respond back but sometimes the ideas are like streams-of-conciousness and not always the clearest.

I didn't mean to suggest that you in particular were against putting up the money for a license. I do however still feel the analogy to other activities is valid. Massachusetts was one, if not the first states to have a wildlife commission and set seasons and limits on the taking of game. We (as a state) did that because of the influence we can have over game species. As the populations grew, and more people were using the resources they had to set seasons and limits or we would have wiped out the game. Whitetail were at pretty low densities back then - a lot more of them are around today (perhaps too many in the eastern part of the state)then back then. Anyway, today with so many people vying for the same resource (whether commercial vs. recreational, Massachusetts vs. Virginia, etc.) we have to manage the resources and do it well. To do that requires funds and reliable information. Monies are already raised through the sale of fishing tackle, fuel for watercraft, and through an excise tax on watercraft (if I'm not mistaken). I hate to sound like PBS or Sally Struthers, but while this money is good, additional money could be used to do much more. I'd like to see more enforcement, angler education, additional access too, also more info on important recreational and commercial species. This cannot happen with current funding (again IMO). If people (and I mean that in general) want to contribute something positive to the resource all you would have to do is pony up $10 and have a little faith that the resource agency would do the right thing.

Remember, this probably will never have a shot in he** of ever even coming up, so this is probably an exercise in futility, however, I love getting other opinions.


steve moore
03-15-2000, 11:13 AM
The problem with the Wallop/Breux tax is that it is rebated back to the states based on the number of licenses issued. So in effect, we pay it and don't get it back like other states with licenses do.

I'm all for a SW license, based on this alone.

03-15-2000, 12:18 PM
Steve- If I read Mike's post correctly the tax is on all fishing gear- fresh and salt and I remember hearing that the largest portion of the population were fresh water fishermen(licensed) then we should be getting the rebate. Many of the saltwater fishermen also fish fresh water though not as much but they still buy licenses. What we need is an acounting of where the money goes- I still don't trust politicians. ron

steve moore
03-16-2000, 09:31 AM
Ron: DMF's own figures put the number of salt water fishermen in MA at between 650,000-750,000. Sure, we get Wallop/Breux money from the freshwater licenses sold in MA, but I don't think of Massachusetts as a Meca for freshwater fishing, like it is for salt water.

Say we make a SW license $10/year and make that an add-on to the freshwater/hunting license to keep down administrative costs (like the duck stamp), or make a separate license just for SW fishing (it doesn''t really matter). That's between $6.5 and $7.5 million per year, plus the additional Wallop/Breux rebate we'd get back for taxes we've already paid. Figure we get another $3-5 million back for that (conservative estimate). That's $9.5-12.5 million bucks a year, for a lousy $10 license! I know I could put money like that to good use. Even if some of $ is spent unwisely, it's a pretty big pie to cut.

03-17-2000, 12:49 AM
Alright I tried to avoid this thread like the plague.

No offense but $10.00 for a SW license PULEEEEEZ! Sure it starts at ten bucks.

I pulled out a bunch of old MA resident Sporting License's that I've saved over the years. I like to pin a dozen or so on when I'm FW fishing a spot that I know is strictly patrolled. Like one of those "W" ponds. It drives the game warden crazy. Then we have a good laugh." border="0" align="middle">

OK here is a sampling not including turky permits, doe permits, duck stamps(state&fed.)wildland stamp and archery/primative firearms stamps.

2000 - $46.00
1995 - $24.50
1989 - $19.50
1982 - $16.50

Pete, don't get me wrong I would love to contribute something that will ensure the proper management of marine fisheries for the present and future. I remember the days you couldn't catch a striper with dynamite (or a shock boat)<img src=" because there weren't any around. As opposed to monster fish everywhere. Oops, I'm dating myself.

No question Professionals such as yourself require the dollars to get the job done. I'm just not convinced that a SW license is the only alternative. If I had the answer to this I could retire tomorrow and just fish. How many C&R guys want to pay to fish SW? Dunno?

The word has spread about the MA world class striper fishery. How about a Non-Resident SW license on a trial basis to get a head count? Advanced apologies to the charter guys and neighboring states. Just my .02

03-17-2000, 06:28 AM
Sully -

When you put up those numbers I see the concern. I don't know how many sportsmen buy the full package but (a) a discount for the whole shebang would be good and (b) perhaps $5 stamp on the fishing license instead of a separate $10 is more appropriate for the reasons stated above.

Washington state originally had two licenses, two government agencies, and two entire controlling cultures around salt and fresh until two years ago when it was consolidated into one. It made a significant difference in cost, ease of access, and alignment of interests.

The reality is that the freshwater license pays for concrete tanks and pellets, as well as the chemicals that keep fish alive in these harsh conditions. This factory trout production culture is far from ideal, it only creates a wrongful mentality among fishermen. I would much rather see some of the money from a joint funding model go toward more thoughtful initiatives than production of pellet-pout. How about restoration and protection of coastal brookie runs, or increased passage and protection for the hundreds of searun atlantic salmon that are trying to get through Massachusetts section of the Merrimac? I'd love to see it.

This would also support coastal fisheries studies and guys like Pete who balance interests between fisheries and fishermen.


steve moore
03-17-2000, 11:13 AM
Juro: I don't mean to sound like I am defending the state and their tactics, but I know that many of the DFWELE folks feel the same as you, and they are aware of the importance of native fisheries and the lack of foresight in the "put & take" mentality. In Concord, there is a task force which has been working with the DFWELE folks to try to establish a brood stock of brook trout in the Mill River whihc runs right through the center of town and is really the only reason the town exists where it does today. The State has been very helpful in advising the task force and helping re-establish brokkies to this important historical waterway. (now that re-read what I wrote, I guess I am defending them).

SSully: If you're not willing to pony-up the $10 (or whatever) for a salt water fishing license, then in my opinion it sounds like you're saying it's not worth it to you. If that's true, fine. But when things go wrong don't start complaining.

03-17-2000, 11:31 AM
Steve -

I know where you're coming from, in fact I did over-generalize about f&g. That activity you spoke of at the CCA banquet and in your post is FASCINATING and if they'd let me I would love to do a report on the restoration effort. If you have something put together I'd love to put it up for the rest of us to see what positive things our license dollars can do. If not, just point me in the right direction and I'll chase it down. The story behind that effort goes beyond a stream and even a town - because of where it happened it kinda had an impact on our country!


03-17-2000, 02:40 PM
Steve please re-read my post. It's not about ten bucks.

03-17-2000, 05:10 PM

Thanks for joining in. I know you are very interested in hunting and fishing resources in this state and are willing to take the time to learn about and participate to make a difference. I know it is not about the ten bucks, it is about the accountability and the return for that investment.

You list the license figures for the sportsman license from the early 80's to the present. There has been an increase - but if I remember correctly the license fees stayed the same for around 15 years or so. Not many things stay the same for that long - it came time for a change to reflect the current conditions. The increase from 1985 to 1989 might have been related to the additional fee for the aquisition of land that is open for hunting. Again, I could be wrong. When MADF&W now MassWildlife decided to jump the fees up they probably could have done it in a way that would have gotten more support among hunters and anglers - because that drastic jump sure put a lot of people off. However, they needed to do it. The legislature doesn't throw huge sums of money their way. Actual numbers of hunters and anglers was not increasing, if anything there was a decrease as people were not entering those activites that they had done in generations past (too much nintendo and a lack of people that wanted to learn or could pass down the info). So to make my point (finally those numbers are a little misleading in my opinion. Plus, if you look at other states we are not out of line in what we charge - perhaps we are too lenient on out-of-staters compared to what other states charge us to hunt or fish.

To respond to another point made by someone - I don't think I would make this a part of the other hunting/fishing license - because if you were strictly a coastal fisherman then buying the other license could lead to problems. The administration costs could be reduced if MassWildlife and MADMF used point-of-sale license machines like they do in other states. That way, a vendor could offer both FW, hunting, sportsman and marine licenses - and it is only marginally more difficult to operate than a lottery machine.

(this is a little off the point but...)
I find it amazing that in this high tech state we don't have point-of-sale machines already. Idaho has them in hunting and fishing stores and regional offices. It is quick easy and efficient. Plus - you can get tags and they can laminate them (nice touch). Ever remember where the carbon copy receipt is for your freshwater license is after you lose/destryed your other one? This system makes it a snap as they are all linked up to a central database. My buddy Chris needed to get "proof" that he has hunted before so he could get a hunting license and not have to take a hunter safety course. All it took was a call to Oregon and he had his total license history in four days (mail took that long). In Massachusetts that info isn't available, at least not to my knowledge. Think about how that could free up enforcement. If you inavertently forgot your license and were checked all they would have to do is call it in. I have done license checks before and the most often used excuse is - it is in my truck, cabin, other vest, etc. - you want to believe but.... . Having the ability to add that to enforcement would be a big help.

Have a good night,


Bob Pink
03-17-2000, 08:48 PM
My thoughts:
Yes of SW license/permit whatever if;

Monies collected do NOT go to State general fund. Income generated targeted for, fisheries research & management, fisherfolk EDUCATION (proper catch & release methods), ramp and beach access improvements, reef program and expanded EP enforcement.

Resident / Non-resident differential ( not too extreme, I fish Maine & RI too! )

In this political world money talks, when the pols realize that they are dealing with a 400,000 + strong contingent of people that not only fish the salt but are willing to pay into supporting the fishery(s) the true economic impact of the recreational sector will finally be felt.

03-17-2000, 09:41 PM
Hi all, I'd just like to make a point. yes our duck hunting is already regulated, license and stamps needed. however, fishing and navigational purposes are not(navigation was overlooked in previous posts. I can't forsee anyone taking the nav. rights because a boat in trouble will almost certainly be veiwed as an extreme emergency, and therefore always protected. that aside, the other 2 activities are sport(no longer used for sustanence) so if you change the status if tidal fishing to a privlege, the 2 sports will both be able to be curtailed easier. as it is only one sport is classed in that group,with the other retaining the status of a right. ask yourself honestly, if you were a non fisherman and bought property on some beautiful estuary, would you want to walk out your back door to see some guys fishing behind your 1 million+ cottage. NOT LIKELY! it is human nature to want to protect your property, and you would probably veiw these guys as infringing on your space. so you conact the local police who tell you it is legal for them to be there. so then you turn to your lawyer,who discovers that no they don't have a right to be there, theey have a privlege to be there. don't think for a second it's not a heck of alot easier to stop your activities then... he we go on the slippery slope. we start to see "NO FISHING" signs in the salt, just like the fresh water. I don't like to be cyinical, but don't want to be naive either. Tom

03-17-2000, 11:28 PM

Thanks for the accountability and the return for that investment statement, as that was my point. I believe it is a linchpin to a progression of a SW license in MA. Most Yankees's(I'm a Red Sox fan) don't trust Uncle Sam.

I agree with this statement. "Plus, if you look at other states we are not out of line in what we charge - perhaps we are too lenient on out-of-staters compared to what other states charge us to hunt or fish." That was another suggestion I was trying to make.

Since this issue seems to keep going around and around I am suggesting an alternative way of looking at it. That's all.
I know I'm gonna take flak for this but here goes. What if MA instituted a one year only trial basis mandatory out of state SW license. For say $10.00 the original figure. It is cheap, it would be simple to enforce MA drivers license for residents or other MA ID. Non-residents must provide a license if checked. Now let's make it coastal. Would I pay the ten to each state and fish in RI, NH & ME. You betcha. Cheap money because the license is good for the season. Even for some sport who vacations here from the Mid-West, whats another ten when he's dropping a couple of hundred on a guide?

As I stated in my previous post this is a known world class striper fishery. Let's do something simple and get a head count of who fish's here from where and then re-adjust the numbers.

Pete in regard to your statement "You list the license figures for the sportsman license from the early 80's to the present." I listed the license fees as what I felt would make a point, which you understood. I always buy my sporting license because I feel the money is well spent for DFW's work. Whether I hunt that year or not, which this year I didn't have the time.

Lastly there is the toughest argument to follow from Tom and Mike, " Never allow a right to be turned into a privilege."

Just my .02

03-17-2000, 11:32 PM
Tom -

You raise an interesting point, but I don't know if I really understand the relationship to access rights so I thought I'd ask. Does the issuance of a license change our rights to the riparian zone? If so you provide a very compelling reason to oppose licenses that I was not aware of.

thanks in advance,

03-17-2000, 11:37 PM
Just to keep things in perspective of what's important I buried my Mother Monday morning.

TL All,

steve moore
03-18-2000, 10:46 AM
I'm sorry and maybe I'm missing something,but Tom's arguement makes absolutley no sense to me. Where is it stated that fishing is a right in Massachusetts? I understand that people are protected from legal action against them if they are traveling below the mean high tide line for the purposes of fishing or fowling, but ow does that translate into a right? How would requiring a license affect this statute? Is fishing from a boat a right too? So how come you need all sorts of licences to fish commerically?

The fact is the fishing & fowling law has been challenged over and over in courts. It will probably continue to be challenged in the future too,and someday a judge may rule in favor of the landowners who brought suit. How does licensing change anything? As mike pointed out, you need to be licensed to hunt and take advantage of the protection of the F&F law. This hasn't had any effect on the stautus of hunting or the law.

03-18-2000, 01:56 PM
Steve and board,

I am also a bit confused about the idea that we will lose the privilege to fish in certain areas if we institute a license, but perhaps that could happen, so it is something to consider.

I do not think a new license would change the access laws, because I was under the impression that those laws applied to all people - not just people participating in hunting or angling activities. If you wanted to walk a stream or the inter-tidal area of a beach looking for cool rocks or shells I don't think you'd be considered trespassing. So I guess I can't see the connection. I don't see the difference between freshwater where you need a license and the salt where you don't.

I would think that anyone concerned with access issues would welcome a license - if some of that money could be used to obtain access or improve existing access. It'd be nice to have some dough to get access right of ways to beaches so your not shut out of even more areas.

We've pretty well beat this one around, how many days till May 1st??????????