25 December 2008

NOAA to Create Saltwater Angler Registry

Prepare to Watch More of Your Dollars Fly Out the Window

NOAA’s Fisheries Service released a final rule to create a national saltwater angler registry of all marine recreational fishermen.

Said Jim Balsiger, NOAA acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. "The registry will help us gather comprehensive data to ensure sustainable fisheries built on the best available science."

If anglers are not licensed or registered by a state that has been exempted and want to fish in federal waters, they will be required to register with NOAA. They must also register if they fish in tidal waters for migratory fish such as striped bass and salmon that spawn in rivers and spend their adult lives in estuaries and oceans. However, those who fish recreationally for these migratory species inland of tidal waters need not register, according to the final rule.

Federal saltwater angler registrations will include an angler’s name, date of birth, address, telephone number, and the regions where they intend to fish. This information will be used by NOAA to conduct surveys on fishing effort and amounts of fish caught. Once anglers have registered, they may fish anywhere in U.S. federal waters, or in tidal waters for anadromous species, regardless of the region or regions they specified in their registration. The registration will be valid for one year from its date of issue. Anglers must comply with applicable state licensing requirements when fishing in state waters.

Saltwater anglers will be able to register online or by calling a toll-free telephone number, and will receive a registration certificate. Anglers will need to carry this certificate (or their state license from an exempt state) and produce it to an authorized enforcement officer if requested. No fee will be charged in 2010. An estimated fee of $15 to $25 per angler will be charged starting in 2011.

Anglers who fish only on licensed party, charter, or guide boats would not be required to register with NOAA since these vessels are surveyed separately from angler surveys. Those who hold angler permits to fish for highly migratory species, such as tunas or swordfish, and those fishing under commercial fishing licenses will also be exempt. Anglers registered or permitted to fish in a formal state or federal subsistence fishery will also be exempt, as will anglers under 16.

To read the final registry rule and other information about the Marine Recreational Information Program, go to: Marine Recreational Information Program

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