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