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CCA VA ALERT

INFORMATIONAL ALERT ON WHICH YOU MAY WISH TO COMMENT
Saltwater Angler Registration Is Coming
What's Your Preference for How We Do It?

Since the federal proposed rule for saltwater angler registration was released in June, VMRC has been looking at ways Virginia can meet the federal requirements. Due to years of complaints about the accuracy of angler surveys, the feds want to develop and use a data base of registered anglers to reference when conducting surveys. Therefore, a national registry of saltwater anglers has been mandated. Anglers can either register with the federal government, which will be free in 2009 and 2010, but cost $15-25 per year beginning in 2011; or Virginia can collect the data needed by the feds through state licensing and/or registration programs and "exempt" Virginia anglers from direct federal registration and the associated federal fee.

According to recent surveys, there are an estimated 836,000 saltwater anglers fishing in Virginia. However, we do not know how many of them fish on charter boats or are under age 16. In addition, the survey currently in use (MRFSS) is not a 100% trusted data source. Charter boat customers will be exempted from the registry (they are counted by a special charter boat survey) as will children under age 16. The bottom line is we have no clear idea how many people will need to register. We can only guess it is approximately 325,000.
Currently, Virginia sells about 70,000 individual saltwater licenses and over 40,000 private boat licenses. The private boat license covers both the boat owner and anyone fishing on that boat, whether the owner is on board or not, so that license category includes a lot of unlicensed people. A private boat license like Virginia's that covers both the boat owner and anyone fishing on the boat, are specifically excluded under the new federal rule. CCA VA believes that any new license requirements adopted by VMRC should produce the following outcomes. First, license fees should accrue exclusively to The Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund (VSRFDF). Second, any new fee structure should produce at least as much revenue as the current fee structure. Third, new rules should mitigate the impact of the loss of the private boat license. Lastly, compliance should be straightforward and simple for anglers.

FEDERAL REGISTER DOCUMENT ON ANGLER REGISTRY
http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/mrip/abo...ter_Notice.pdf

The new federal rule specifically excludes blanket boat licenses, and requires individual registration. It also prohibits exemptions for blanket licenses on public piers, and exemptions for fishing from private lands, which we have here in Virginia.

These requirements leave Virginia three basic options. We have listed the options below that VMRC has identified to meet the federal angler registration requirements.

Option 1
Do nothing at the state level and let anglers comply with the federal rule by registering directly with the feds.

CCA VA Analysis of Option 1:
This option is easiest for the state government, and costs the state government nothing. However, it will cost every Virginia saltwater angler $15-25 per year beginning in 2011, and that money goes to the federal treasury for general use, not the state or even to federal fishery programs. At $15-25 per registrant for the estimated 325,000 anglers; that is $4.8 million to $8.1 million that Virginia citizens and visitors would have to pay, in addition to the state individual or boat fishing license fees, which currently costs saltwater anglers about $2.5 million.

Option 2
Modify the existing state saltwater fishing licensing program to meet the federal registration standards. This basically means licensing every angler from age 16 to 59, and somehow reporting name and contact information for those over 59 within 2 years of starting the registration program.

CCA VA Analysis of Option 2:
This has an advantage to the state of allowing any license fees accrue to the state, but makes a lot of people get licenses that did not previously require them. In Virginia, that includes any person fishing on a private boat whose owner buys the boat license. The boat license would have to be eliminated under this option. Many more licenses would be sold, possibly resulting in more Wallop-Breaux grant money for Virginia, and certainly more money for the Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund.

Using the estimate of 325,000 saltwater anglers and an individual license price of $12.50 (less $1 for dealer fees), this option could generate $3.7 million for the dedicated recreational fund each year, compared to $2.5 million generated by the current licensing program. That would provide $3.7 million for the VA Saltwater Fishing Tournament, Virginia Tagging Program, ramps, reefs, piers, education, outreach, research, and other programs beneficial to Virginia's saltwater anglers.

One feature that has been mentioned for this option is to create an inexpensive $2 "weekend pass," a three day license that could be obtained over the internet or by phone. This would help mitigate the cost of removing the boat license. Since the convenience of the boat license will be lost (boat guests will have to be licensed or registered and individual credentials checked by enforcement officers rather than the boat sticker), this is an interesting option. Also, a temporary saltwater recreational fishing license, which shall be valid for a stated period of time not to exceed ten consecutive days at a cost of five dollars would still remain in effect. At the present time, a license for out of state visitors and charter boat operators is being worked on.

Option 2A
This option is much the same as option 2 with an adjustment to the individual license price that makes the change "revenue neutral" or at least less expensive. The "weekend pass" could be combined with this option to make cost for infrequent guests even lower.

CCA Virginia Analysis of Option 2A:
A license price of $8 would generate about the same revenue as the current licensing program if there are 325,000 individual licenses sold. The weekend pass of $2 per person could easily be obtained over the internet or by telephone. A temporary saltwater recreational fishing license, which would be valid for a stated period of time not to exceed ten consecutive days at a cost of $5, would remain in effect.

Option 3
This option would create a hybrid system using individual licenses, boat licenses, and a free or low cost individual registration system at the state level. For Virginia, this would mean we could leave the existing licensing system unchanged, and require unlicensed anglers (like those fishing on private boats) to register and carry their annual registration number with them when they fish.

CCA Virginia Analysis of Option 3:
While this hybrid system would allow the private boat license to remain intact, it would create two systems. The existing system would be used for collecting data about licensees, and a second would have to be created for registrants. The registration system would have some costs. Similar programs already in place for hunters cost about 75 cents per registrant per year from one contractor. While it may be far less if the state does the processing in-house, it could still translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for Virginia. It is certain that any costs for registration system would come from the saltwater license fund, not general funds. At 50 cents per registrant, it could cost us $200,000 based on 400,000 saltwater anglers.

The private boat licensing program has been popular with anglers because of the convenience of "automatically" licensing guests, and because law enforcement does not have to board to check individual licenses. Regardless of the option selection, these benefits will disappear. Individual anglers will have to be licensed or registered, and the presence of a boat license will not satisfy registration for unlicensed guests. Unlicensed guests will have to register before fishing, and law enforcement officers will have to check individuals for a fishing license or proof of angler registration. This could be a confusing system with serious compliance issues due to that confusion.

CCA Virginia believes there are some significant opportunities we can consider as Virginia reacts to this federal mandate. We could restructure our licensing program, and generate more funds for angler supported projects. Creating a central angler registry that must be electronic and therefore legible, portable, and accessible will finally provide CCA Virginia and other angler advocates with the data needed to lobby effectively for angler issues.
And most important, we will finally provide the fisheries managers with some of the tools necessary to assure more rational and accurate assessments of angler effort and catch. This will hopefully create a better sense of fair treatment in the angling community.

For these reasons, CCA Virginia supports option 2A with an individual fishing license priced at $8, the weekend pass option at $2, and a temporary license up to ten days at $5. Also keep any new revenues in Virginia's Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund. We also prefer this option because it uses one system: registration and licensing are integrated into a single system and available from the same venue. Licensees would be automatically placed in the registration database, and not be also required to "register" as a separate transaction. This is essential for the ease of compliance, and the resultant rate of angler compliance.
Send your comments by letter, fax, or email to:

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
2600 Washington Ave, 3rd Floor
Newport News, Virginia 23607
Attn: Jack Travelstead

Fax number 757-247-8101

E-mail to: [email protected]
Please include your name, address and phone number on emails. If using email, please copy [email protected] so CCA VA can monitor the results.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ____
The preceding was provided as a public service by the Coastal Conservation Association Virginia (CCA VA). Feel free to forward it to your associates. If you have any comments concerning this issue, or would like to have your name added/removed from the distribution list, reply to this message. The purpose of CCA is to advise and educate the public on the conservation of marine resources. CCA VA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose goal is to Conserve, Protect, and Restore marine resources for the benefit of all Virginians. Please visit our website located at Welcome to Coastal Conservation Association Virginia for more information.

Frank A. Kearney III Co-Chairman CCA VA Fisheries Management Committee [email protected]
Larry Snider Co-Chairman CCA VA Fisheries Management Committee [email protected]
 

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Ok, where do the lifetime licenses fall into this?
 

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You buy or have one you are covered. There will have to be some way to keep your address and phone number up to date. I don't know what that process will consist of.
 

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I think that they should keep the boat license. It's really great being able to take out guests without having to go through the hassle of getting everybody licensed and making your guests pay 10-20 bucks a piece, when they may not be planning to do any fishing again anytime soon.

Giving up boat licenses so that the fed can have a list of fisherman? Sorry if this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
 

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New idea that I've been pondering....

Since the biggest hold up is on the boat licenses, What if:
-Keep the current boat license as is, with the following modifications:

-Let the license "register" 4 people in the National system- these are put into the system when the license is purchased. This would cover the average family who wants to go fishing, or a group of buddys who spend the majority of time on a boat.

-Include with the license X many (say, 10) "guest" passes, which are good for one person for one day. These can be like a scratch-off lottery ticket, so the user will be required to scratch off the date for which the ticket is to be used. In addition, the owner of the boat license can be required to input the data into a system, preferably online, with telephone support for those without internet (not even a dedicated system...make them call DGIF at business hrs).

-Additional 'guest passes' can be sold for $2

-Write the law such that if someone is caught without the proper pass, i.e not scratching the date off, they are sunk (i.e. high penalties).

Although this will not be perfect, everyone knows that those passes will not get scratched off until VMRC shows up, it may be enough of a compromise or a middle road to get the feds to buy into it, while leaving the boat license for the most part intact, and not including too much of an additional cost (except the cost of the passes and server space). I believe those can easily be offset with $1-$2 on the boat license, which sounds a lot better than either getting all of my friends who fish once a year a $2 weekend pass (for each one), or a $10 federal registry.

Comments?

jay
 

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I'm a little confused about the whole idea here... They want a list with phone numbers and addresses for all the Saltwater Anglers in the U.S.?

Should there be mandatory registration for people who play softball on the weekends?

Lemme guess... next is hunters, i.e. people who own guns.

Don't like it one bit.

Also, in my own opinion, the fisheries departments should not be so dependent on license sales. If the government used a fraction of the cash it pours into overseas wars for our own natural resources, this wouldn't be an issue.
 

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I understand your logic but it may be overly complicated way to address the $2 fee per person for the pass... I'd probably lose the darn "scratch ticket" trying to keep track of how many friends fished on my boat :oops:. It also represents an opportunity for fraud. There is no way to verify actual number of people who have fished from a given boat. Fed's ain't gonna like that.

Good idea but I support option 2A as is... assuming I agree with the need for the national registry. Question is, what are the plans to use the collected information/data from all us fisherman? If it's used effectively to address polution, biological research on top species and restocking programs then i think it is worth the investment. Of course it will be a federal program and require coordination with the state... :eek:

If gas comes down $0.10/gal at the dock I can buy 6 annual licenses and give them to 6 friends! :))
 

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opt. 2a ??? does this mean a weekend pass for salt water will only cost 2.00 period no hidden fees ect...?? and a ten day will cost 5.00 with no hidden fees ect..?? that can be purchased over the net or by phone?



qoute from cwelch===Good idea but I support option 2A as is... assuming I agree with the need for the national registry. Question is, what are the plans to use the collected information/data from all us fisherman? unquote


does this mean the feds will use othe rec. info to restrict what the recs can keep and turn loose the comercials
 

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Doing aw;ay with the boat license would be a nightmare for law enforcement. They will have to constantly board vessels to check individual licenses. I don't know about you all but I hate the inconvenience of being checked a couple of times a year. This may cause you to get checked every time you go out. In addition to this, it may hurt the charter boat business. Yes, 2 or 5 bucks seems small but just the inconvenience of having to buy a salt water license to fish one or two times a year will turn people off. Leave well enough alone. I don't understand the registry stuff. What is the government going to do with more of my personal data?
 

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Timber, The information will be used to do the angler surveys. Previously they used the phone book for coastal counties and got households with saltwater fishermen like one time in 50. This way each call they make will be to a household with a saltwater fisherman. Also they won't have to estimate how many fishermen there are because everyone will be registered except those over 60 and less than 16.

K9, If they don't do away with the boat license they will have to "constantly board vessels to check individual" Fisherman Identification Numbers or Federal Registration numbers.

The registry stuff is a federal mandate. We have to do something the question is: What?

BTW the mandate to get a federal number starts in two months. It will be a federal system that is free until Jan. 2011
 

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Sorry this whole thing smells like a dead old fisherman and is a bunch of carp!
The government need to worry about all the other 5 million things they have screwed up and stop running the country into the ground and not worry over and spend money over this ridiculous garbage.
More government and bigger government is insane. Show me one government agency that is not corrupt or incompetant.
 
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