To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Federal License to Fish

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection is proposing to license saltwater fishermen. Currently the state is one of seven (out of 21 coastal states) that does not require a license to fish in saltwater. Under the new plan, saltwater anglers would have to pay $15 for an annual license or $25 for an all-water license. Freshwater anglers already have to pay $20 per year.

The DEP cites two reasons for the plan. One is that revenue from the freshwater licenses is down and so new fees are needed to pay for conservation and education programs. CT, like other states, uses the fee money from fishing licenses -- or at least some of it -- to mitigate the tragedy of the commons with creel limits, to teach people how to ice-fish without falling through, and so forth. While it's mildly irritating that I will now have to buy a license, I agree the cost is not onerous (fishing is a ridiculously cheap sport) and I support the pay-for-use structure of fishing and hunting licenses. I only wish all government services were likewise constructed.

The second reason for the plan: in January, President Bush signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, which calls for a national registry of recreational fishermen by 2011. The Act already governs commercial fishing operations. Under section 401(g), the new Act calls for a federal list of all recreational, Sunday-afternoon anglers and their boats.

The Act exempts those anglers already registered under state programs from directly registering with the feds, and though there is no fee for a federal license until 2011, the Connecticut DEP is apparently trying to establish their registry before the federal one comes into being, thereby keeping the fee money in-state. Meanwhile the feds will use data from the state registries to compile their own list.

I'm willing to bet hard cash there will be federal fees after 2011 which will be passed along to the states, resulting in much higher state licenses. Indeed, there is no aspect of our lives too minor to require federal regulation. Thanks small-government conservatives!

Labels: ,