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-   -   Saltwater fishing license - your opinions (http://www.flyfishingforum.com/flytalk4/showthread.php?t=2926)

Pete 03-13-2000 10:16 AM

Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
Board,

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?

Pete

juro 03-13-2000 12:40 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.

Juro

ronl 03-13-2000 02:09 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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

Pete 03-13-2000 03:45 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.....

Pete

Interested to hear more....

JimW 03-13-2000 10:12 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
The DMF would have to get it's act together before I would support a SWL.

Pete 03-13-2000 11:02 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
Jim,

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

Pete

timwatts 03-14-2000 06:50 AM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.

Lefty 03-14-2000 09:06 AM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.

TerryW

Nathan Smith 03-14-2000 12:31 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
I am in support of a license only if all the money went to the Mass fisheries dept or Wildlife dept.

tomd 03-14-2000 01:41 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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

Pete 03-14-2000 02:06 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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

jeffg 03-14-2000 02:15 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
"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...

Jeff

Powers 03-14-2000 02:47 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.

Pete 03-14-2000 06:00 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.

Powers 03-14-2000 07:27 PM

RE:Saltwater fishing license - your opinions
 
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.

Cheers.


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