Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times
Department of Fish and Game warden Mike Buelna issues a citation to a 21-year-old angler for fishing with a blank license
Many San Diego area anglers seem to get ticked off this time of year. Often we wait until summertime to buy our annual fishing licenses, knowing that our $47.01 will only last until December 31.
It’s an issue that tackle retailers and California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife hear a lot about: why do fishing licenses expire at the end of the year, not 12 months from date of purchase?
The department’s license-program analyst, Glenn Underwood, recently looked into the issue and examined other states that implemented a 12-month license.
According to a recent report in the Oceanside Senior Anglers’ “Fish Tails” newsletter, Underwood reported that fishermen in those states with 12-month licensure tended to wait until they went fishing to purchase a license, knowing it would be valid for one year. Then when their license expired, anglers waited to renew until they fished again, creating a gap.
“This caused a license revenue reduction of 10 to 30 percent,” reported Underwood. “After a few years the sum of the gaps was often greater than a year, and a complete license sale was lost.”
Plus, every state receives federal money annually, based on license sales, under the 1950 Sport Fishing Restoration Act — an excise tax on tackle and boat-fuel sales. In 2014, California received over $16 million in federal grants, which was supposed to be used for fish-habitat restoration. If California went to a 12-month license, it could lose up to $4.5 million in federal grants.