January 28, 2008


Recreational fishing license sales fell short for 2007

By SUSAN WEST


Coastal recreational fishing license sales fell far short of covering the estimated 2 million anglers who fish in North Carolina every year.

The state sold 469,565 licenses in 2007, the first year licenses were required for saltwater sportfishing in the state.

North Carolina residents bought 179,956 annual licenses and 40,255 short-term licenses that were valid for 10 consecutive days.

Residents of Wake County bought 23,682 licenses, more than residents of any other county.

Dare County residents bought 7,876 licenses, placing the county 11th in the number of licensed residents.

However, outlets in Dare sold 93,237 licenses, more than agents in other counties. 

License agents, such as bait and tackle shops and other retailers, proved to be the most popular spot for sales.  Fewer than 12 percent of sales were conducted online at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Web site.

Out-of-state fishermen purchased 23,794 annual and 131,109 short-term licenses.

Virginians bought the most out-of-state licenses.  Sales to residents of Pennsylvania and Maryland ranked second and third.

In addition to the annual and short-term licenses, lifetime licenses and licenses that combine saltwater fishing with freshwater fishing or hunting privileges are included in the sales tally.

The state also sells blanket fishing licenses that exempt customers on charter boats, headboats, and public fishing piers from the individual license requirement.

In 2007, 835 blanket licenses were sold.

Revenue from license sales go into either the Marine Resources Endowment Fund or the Marine Resources Fund to provide money for projects and programs that help manage and enhance marine resources.

Only the interest earned on the lifetime license revenue in the Marine Resources Endowment Fund can be spent.  At the end of 2007, the fund contained $2.5 million, including almost $82,000 in interest.

Coastal recreational license sales netted $4.7 million for the Marine Resources Fund in 2007.

The Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wildlife Resources Commission agreed to spend some of that money on developing a fishing pier on the Chowan River and creating a guidebook for coastal anglers. 

The fund will also support a stock assessment scientist position and program at the Division of Marine Fisheries.   

In addition, $855,711 was used for costs associated with implementation of the license program.

At the end of 2007, the balance stood at about $2.8 million
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