Californians are not fishing, despite the fact that the state boasts over 4,000 lakes and reservoirs, thousands of rivers and streams and an extensive coastline.
Annual fishing license sales have declined by more than 55 percent in California since 1980, according to a study by the California Sportfishing League. In that same amount of time the state’s population has increased exponentially leading Senator Tom Berryhill (R – Twain Harte) to attribute the decline in part to the costly licensing system.
“Sportfishing, one of California’s greatest pastimes, is facing a real crisis,” said Berryhill. “A dramatic decline in fishing participation demonstrates that the state’s current licensing system has proven too costly for many families. Providing anglers with a greater bang for their buck is the first step to making sure that recreational fishing is accessible and affordable, much to the benefit of communities dependent on recreational fishing for tourism and jobs, as well as funding for important habitat restoration and fisheries management.”
Berryhill is authoring the Sportfishing Stimulus Act of 2015 (Senate Bill 345) which is sponsored by the CSL and aimed at addressing the decline in fishing participation which influences the state’s tourism industry.
The bill would make acquiring fishing licenses easier by making the license valid for a full year rather than operating on a calendar year, which invalidates all licenses in December regardless of when they were purchased.
“The decline in the state’s fishing participation rate reflects the fact that California fishing licenses are among the costliest in the country and, remarkably, are not valid for a full 12 months,” said CSL Board President David Dickerson. “If a resident’s car registration is valid for a full 12 months, then fishing licenses should be too. Senator Berryhill, a champion of California’s sportsmen, has introduced common sense solutions to protect the future of recreational fishing.”
If passed, the bill would also allow charitable organizations to using fishing events for functions without being subjected to fines if the amount of fish exceeds the limits on possession. Junior fishing licenses would also become a reality as they are not presently attainable in California. With statistics reflecting that 71 percent of anglers develop their interest in fishing prior to the age of 18 according to the American Sportfishing Association, allowing individuals to pursue their interest in fishing at a younger age could prove beneficial for the industry in the long term.