Sacramento–Today, Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) introduced AB 817, legislation that will transition California’s calendar-based fishing license to one that is valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase and a mobile phone app that makes compliance and renewal easier. This bill complements the recent California Department of Fish and Wildlife R3/Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation program.
“AB 817 reintroduces language from AB 1387, legislation introduced in 2019, which received bipartisan support but was stalled due to the state’s necessary focus on the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wood. “Because of the level of support the original bill received, I hope to move AB 817 expeditiously without detracting from our continued work to get to the other side of this pandemic.”
Since 1980, annual resident sport fishing license sales have declined 55 percent while the state’s population has increased over 60 percent. 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.
California’s calendar-based fishing licenses expire on December 31 of each year regardless of when purchased. Some anglers will not pay full price for a license that may only be valid for a few months. Recognizing this, 14 states have transitioned to a 365-day license. According to Rob Southwick, a national marketing and economics expert who has studied fishing license sales, states that offer a 365-day license are outperforming revenue of states that only offer a calendar-based license.
“Past bipartisan support underscores the recognition by members of the state legislature that California’s outdated sport fishing license system does not properly serve anglers in the Golden State,” said Wayne Kotow, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association of California (CCA CAL), sponsor of AB 817. “Providing anglers access to a fishing license that provides greater value and technology that makes fishing more accessible is long overdue, and what better way to achieve these goals than to boost the value of a license purchased by an angler? It’s kind of a no-brainer.” CCA CAL’s press release can be found here.
“It’s time for California to abandon an antiquated fishing license that’s harming our participation rate,” said Wood. “Modernizing our sport fishing license to one that is valid a full 365 days from the date of purchase will encourage more Californians to fish and increase fishing license revenue that fund critical state fishing and conservation programs. Making fishing more accessible really supports communities that rely on outdoor recreation and tourism, like my Northern California district.”
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