Wow! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you?! Here in Florida Senator Joe Negron (R-Palm City) has filled SB 744 which would eliminate the need for freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses in Florida. Doesn't he know that license sales fund fisheries conservation? Hasn't he ever heard of Wallop-Breaux or Dingell-Johnson? Is he unaware that the preliminary Wallop-Breaux apportionment for Fiscal Year 2011 for Florida is $8,123,734 and that this is based upon the number of fishing licenses sold and the size of the state?
Doesn't he know that the Florida Bass Conservation Center was awarded the 2009 Wallop-Breaux Outstanding Project of the Year? This is a hatchery and research facility, paid for in large part using Federal Wallop-Breaux and State Wildlife Grants money and dedicated to ensuring the conservation of Florida's four native species of black bass:
Florida largemouth, shoal, Suwannee and spotted bass. Does he not know if Florida did away with saltwater licenses, a federal license would be imposed with none of those federal license fees going back to Florida for saltwater rand anadromous fishery management? So, how did we anglers let this happen? How is it that we can have a member of a state legislature so critically uninformed about the enormous value of fishing licenses?
The Federal/State Sport Fish Restoration program involves a cooperation between state and federal governments, the fishing and boating industries and anglers and boaters. The program is designed to increase Sportfishing and boating opportunities through the wise investment of anglers' and boaters' tax dollars.
The program was created in 1950 through the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act. It is an outstanding example of "user pays — user benefits," whereby anglers and boaters pay a little more for the equipment and motorboat fuel and, in return, enjoy increased fishing and boating opportunities. These taxes are deposited in the US Treasury and then apportioned back to the state fishery agencies for sport fish restoration, wetlands conservation, aquatic education, outreach, boat safety, boating access and facilities projects.
Clearly we as anglers need to be doing a better job of keeping our legislators informed!