As mentioned in our recent post, many people love to put on their waders and Greek fishing caps to go and cast a line from time to time. However, in order to enjoy fishing without breaking the law, there is a small legal concern that you must address first. You have to buy a fishing license.
A fishing license, also called a fishing permit, is used as a regulatory mechanism to control fishing in one specific state. Licensing is just one of many ways that fishing is managed and people have to get it for recreational fishing as well as for commercial fishing.
Depending on the state and the jurisdiction, fishing licenses can be requested by the government, the owner of the property on which you are fishing and in some cases by both. When purchasing one, always keep in mind what type of fishing license you need. There are resident or non-resident, saltwater or freshwater and recreational or commercial.
The boat people from southern China had to acquire these fishing permits since the year 1729. The government was releasing licenses that were basically a wooden board that had to be displayed on the boat itself, either on the bow or at the stern.
On this license, there were written the name and age of the owner, whether the ship was a commercial or fishing vessel, the ship’s home naval port, the crew and the owner’s family members that were on board, the date when the fishing license was issued, and the permit’s registration number.
The American state of Oregon began requiring fishing licenses for commercial purposes back in 1899. Incidentally, that was also the year when the sturgeon fishery of the state collapsed because people were over-harvesting it. Fishing licenses for recreational purposes were only required in the state of Oregon 2 years later, in 1901.
In the same year, Indiana was issuing hunting licenses, but only 12 years later, in 1913, it added fishing privileges to these already existing licenses. Pennsylvania has been requiring fishing licenses since 1919. However, at first, only people who didn’t live in Pennsylvania had to present them.
Because only 50 permits were issued during that year, three years later the state required both the nonresident as well as the resident citizens to acquire these fishing licenses. After the institution of this law 2,700 licenses were sold to the nonresidents and more than 200,000 were sold to the residents.
Some countries allow anglers to catch fish without having a fishing permit for recreational purposes as long as certain rules are followed. These rules dictate the total number of caught fish and their size.
Acquiring a fishing license
Buying fishing licenses greatly aids the authorities in their conservation endeavors. Due to today’s modern means of communication, these fishing permits can be acquired online, which is possible in the majority of the states. In addition, these permits can be bought through the phone or by going to the appropriate retail establishments.
For many people, the fastest way is of course, online. First, make sure you access an official state website. There you will make use of its intricate system to purchase one or more fishing licenses or to replace and renew an existing one. The payment methods are really intuitive and are similar to any other payment you would do online.
You can pay by credit card or debit card and after the payment has been confirmed you often receive your permit online and you’re able to print it out right away.
If you leave in a remote area, deep into the wilderness and don’t have access to the internet, you can order a fishing license by phone. Again, make sure that the number you called is correct and that you are talking with a real representative before giving him/her your personal information or the personal information of another angler, depending on the case.
The classic method is to go get your fishing permit in person. You can go to an authorized license agent or various fishing stores or sporting goods stores. In addition, you may visit department offices that are scattered all over the country. Remember to have in your possession documents proving your identity and address.
If none of the above-mentioned methods are available to you, you still have the option of submitting an application for a fishing permit by mail. Keep in mind that in this case you also have to send the required payment for the permit fee. Your fishing license will arrive back to you through the mail as well.
During the year 2018, $700 million were generated from selling fishing licenses across the United States. All these fees are directed toward restoration and, most importantly, conservation. This having been said, fishing permits are not the only source of income when it comes to conservation.
Every year, the Sport Fish Restoration Program gives state fish and wildlife agencies that are dedicated to restoring projects all over the US millions of dollars. This reimbursement system relies on an excise tax that is paid by importers and manufacturers of fishing gear and also relies on fuel taxes for motorboats that are paid by boaters.
Since the year 1952, the Sport Fish Restoration Program has granted $8 million worth of funds to agencies, reimbursing them and covering in some cases even 75% of their project spendings. These costs involve land acquisition, species and habitat restoration and protection, access to the public for boating and fishing and in some cases education.
According to an update made on the 8th of February 2019, the tax percentages applied are as follows: 10% on the sale costs of fishing gear, 3% on electric boat motors, a tax on fuel destined for small engines, between 1% and 2.7% on yachts, sailboats or inflatable boats, and import duties that range between 3.7% and 9.2% on reels, rods, fish hooks, fishing line, nets, etc.