Many San Diego anglers are rejoicing that California appears to finally be moving towards a 12-month from-date-purchase fishing license. Senate Bill 187, written by Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) unanimously passed the senate’s Natural Resources & Water Committee on April 25.
For years, anglers have complained the Department of Fish and Wildlife licenses are a state rip-off. No mater when purchased, the annual fishing license expires on December 31. Most anglers wait until the spring or summer fishing season to renew their licenses.
“We’re happy! We want the 12-month license to come through. It’s a step in the right direction for fishermen,” said Wayne Kotow, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association California, a recreational angler lobbying organization based in San Diego.
Berryhill reports the number of fishing license purchased have decreased by over 55 percent since 1980, when the state sold 2.2 million licenses. In 1980, a fishing license cost only $5.00.
In 2017, Fish and Wildlife charges residents $47.01, plus if one wants to use a second rod in inland waters, an additional $14.61. Southern California saltwater anglers must pay a $5.14 "ocean enhancement” fee.
There is a growing concern that the unprecedented decline in California’s fishing license sales will threaten funding of fish stocking, and conservation programs, as well as millions of federal dollars tied to the number of licenses sold.
In 2015, Fish and wildlife's license-program analyst, Glenn Underwood, examined the potential loss of revenue to the state of it offered a 12-month license – known as the “license gap.” California remains one of the few states that doesn’t sell a 12-month license.