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Feature Article: Fishing and Hunting Licenses

365-day fishing bill now to include hunting licenses

Special to Western Outdoor NewsPublished: Sep 25, 2019

SACRAMENTO — Over the past year, the California Sportfishing League (CSL) has been working with Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) to advance legislation to increase fishing participation in California. Assembly Bill 1387 would enact a 365-day sport fishing license valid for a full 12 months from the date of purchase, include an auto-renewal feature that would ensure greater license renewal rates, and allow licenses to be displayed on mobile devices.

The legislation is supported by over 60 state and national organizations representing anglers, hunters, boaters, marina operators, retailers, the tourism and hospitality industry, and small business owners.


While legislation passed the State Assembly unanimously and rests in the State Senate, Assemblyman Wood announced that AB 1387 will become a two-year bill. The decision to slow the advancing bill was made based on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) commitment to work with the bill’s author and outdoor community to expand the scope of the legislation by including additional reforms that would not only provide anglers greater value, but hunters as well.


Since 2018, California hunting and recreational fishing stakeholders have been working with DFW to develop a statewide R3 Plan (Recruit, Retain, Reactivate) that promotes new policies and marketing practices that aim to reverse declining fishing and hunting participation rates and to increase social support of these activities. Many states that have implemented similar R3 programs have experienced increased license sales and revenue.


DFW’s R3 recommendations will be released in October of this year and added as amendments to Assemblyman Wood’s legislation.


“There is broad-based consensus that California’s hunting and fishing licenses are too costly and have lost some appeal to the outdoor sporting community,” said Assemblyman Wood. “I look forward to working with CDFW and Governor Newsom’s administration to improve Assembly Bill 1387 in order to accomplish the goals identified in California’s R3 Action Plan and help increase hunting and fishing participation rates.”


The need to expand the bill is based on broad based consensus within DFW and the California State Legislature that costly licenses, onerous regulations and limited access are just a few contributing factors to plummeting hunting and fishing participation rates. The need for reform has taken on added importance for a state dependent on billions of dollars generated by outdoor tourism and DFW who relies on license sales for about 20% of its operating budget.


“California is on the cusp of improving the state’s license program,” said Marko Mlikotin, executive director of the California Sportfishing League. “Innovative ideas will not only benefit California hunters and anglers, but conservation and wildlife programs that are funded by license sales.”


While the legislation is advancing slowly, organizations representing anglers and hunters are cautiously optimistic that with the support of California’s leading wildlife agency, 2020 will be the year for long awaited licensing reform.


To join an online petition in support of AB 1387 (Wood), visit www.savefishing.com.


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