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 --
>> How does this differ from the access laws we have for fishing on streams. In Massachusetts no one owns the stream channel. <<
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.