| June 26, 2008
Offshore recreational anglers may have to register with NOAA
By SUSAN WEST
recreational anglers fishing in federal waters would be required to
register with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) under a proposed rule issued in
Anglers fishing in state waters where anadromous species, such as
striped bass, shad, or herring, might be hooked would be required to
Anglers in states that have a state-issued saltwater recreational
fishing license could be exempt from the requirement under a waiver
from NOAA Fisheries.
“But some license programs might have holes and not be accepted
for the exemption,” warned Gordon Colvin, NOAA fisheries
Colvin said states would need to have either an anglers contact
database or participate in a regional data collection system that
accounted for all saltwater anglers.
North Carolina fisheries officials said they believe the state stands a good chance of receiving an exemption from NOAA.
“We are in a good position to apply for the exemption,”
said Dee Lupton, deputy director of the state Division of Marine
Lupton said NOAA is currently using the North Carolina contact database
in a project testing different methods of surveying anglers.
Still, NOAA could require some modification to the North Carolina fishing license.
Lupton said one area of concern could be the lack of contact
information for anglers fishing on piers under the pier blanket license.
“We might find that most of those fishermen also have individual
licenses, or we might need to devise another way to get their
information into the federal registry,” she explained.
The blanket license for charter boats and headboats shouldn’t be
a problem. The proposed federal rule exempts anglers on for-hire
vessels from the registration requirement. A separate reporting
system already collects catch-data from those vessels.
NOAA is likely to require significant changes to license programs that
are unable to capture data from large segments of the angling
population. That could happen in states such as SC where
shore-based anglers don’t have to buy a license.
And Hawaii and the seven states from New Jersey to Maine don’t have a saltwater license.
“States without saltwater licenses have a strong incentive to
adopt a license,” said Jim Balsiger, acting assistant
administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
Balsiger said the registry would help fill gaps in recreational fishing data.
“This will lead to better stock assessments and more effective
regulations to rebuild and manage these valuable fish,” he said.
Unlike the comprehensive system of logbooks and trip-tickets, and in
some instances electronic monitoring, that tracks landings by
commercial fishermen, recreational data is collected largely through
telephone calls to random phone numbers in coastal telephone
The proposed registry would weed out inefficiency in the system by
narrowing the field of potential interviewees to persons who fish.
NOAA has proposed that the registry requirement take effect for the
2009 fishing season. Beginning in 2011, the federal agency would
charge a registration fee, estimated to run between $15 and $25.
NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on the proposal through August 11. More information is available at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov.