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Editorial: Year Long Fishing License

Editorial: Why no year-long fishing licenses?

Western Outdoor NewsPublished: May 14, 2019

Can you believe that the battle for a fishing license that is good for 365 days from date of purchase is still going on here in California? Quite unbelievable that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is so steadfast in its opposition, and we wonder why? What could be their reason for not supporting something as fair as a year-long fishing license being good for a year from the date of purchase?

Once again, Californians for Fishing License Reform, led by Marko Mlkotin of the California Sportfishing League, is ramping up the fight for a 365-day fishing license. On April 17 he wrote a letter to the Assembly Appropriations Committee requesting their support in getting the true year-long license a reality for California fishermen through the passage of AB 1387, which will make it a reality.

Facts are overwhelmingly in favor of the change:

— Tens of thousands of California jobs are directly impacted by over 2.6 million California anglers, which contribute over $4.6 billion in economic activity each year.

— Since 1980, annual resident sport fishing license sales have declined 55% while the state’s population has increased over 60%.

— While California has a population of more than 39.8 million people, one of the country’s longest coastlines, more than 3,000 lakes and thousands of rivers and streams, it has the lowest fishing participation rate per capita in the country.

One of the primary contributing factors is California’s costly annual fishing license that expires on Dec. 31st of each year, regardless of when purchased. Because most anglers will not pay full price for a license that is not valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase, California Department of Fish and Wildlife fishing license data reveals that annual license sales peak in the first quarter of the year and then start to decline significantly by late Spring, even as weather warms and outdoor recreational activity increases.

In recent years, 14 states have abandoned the annual calendar-based license, as offered in California, for a license that is valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase. Independent analysis, provided by Southwick and Associates, a nationally recognized outdoor sport economics research firm, concluded that states that offer 365-day fishing licenses outperformed calendar-based states. The company also concluded that California’s current licensing program is economically unsustainable.

AB 1387 also adds an auto renewal feature that will increase annual license renewals to ensure continuity in sales and eliminate the “revenue gap” from switching to a 365-day license from a calendar year expiration license.

Establishing a license that is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, along with an app that will display hunting and fishing licenses on mobile devices, will help address California’s declining fishing participation rate. As proven by other states that have made the switch, California stands to benefit from additional license sales and increased revenue that can be used for funding important wildlife and conservation programs.

California’s fishing license structure is costly and antiquated, and it is not addressing the consumer needs of today’s angler. Protecting the status quo is not in the long-term financial interest of the State of California.

The passage of AB 1387 that will protect California’s standing as a premiere tourism and fishing destination, increase annual sport fishing license sales and generate needed additional revenue for the DFW.

With far too many benefits and no downside, the time has come to implement the 365-day fishing license from date of sale.

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