The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is moving quickly to establish a saltwater fishing license for recreational anglers who fish Delaware marine waters. Specifically, the license would be an "all waters license", meaning that the license would be valid for both fresh and saltwater fishing. Very few details of the proposal are known at this time besides that DNREC is considering a range of fees from $5 to $8.50 per year for residents and $15 to $20 per year for non-residents. In order for a license to be instituted, a bill would have to be passed by the Delaware legislature and signed into law by the Governor.
Historically, RFA has opposed the implementation of saltwater fishing licenses in states where a license does not currently exist. "Reasons for this opposition included problems with funds being used inappropriately, flawed data collection systems, and a saltwater license is an unnecessary fee or tax considering that millions of dollars are collected through excise taxes on tackle and marine fuel and purchasing beach access passes," said Jim Donofrio, RFA executive director.
However, RFA recognizes that there are RFA members who support a saltwater license. "One reason for supporting a license is that the funds generated can be used to improve access, such as the construction of additional fishing piers and boat ramps. Another reason is that the funds could be used for research activities that will improve fisheries management," said Marvin Kahl, acting chairmen of RFA-DE chapter.
RFA-DE intends to poll all Delaware members for their opinion on the subject. "We would prefer to have as many details as possible regarding how the license would be implemented in order to best gauge membership reaction for this proposal. Unfortunately, DNREC is being elusive regarding details of the proposal," said Donofrio.
DNREC has announced a series of public meetings regarding the proposed license. These first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7th at the Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus at the Lecture Hall in the William Carter Partnership Center on Route 18 (Seashore Highway) in Georgetown. The second meeting is on Wednesday, Feb. 8th at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Auditorium, 89 Kings Highway in Dover. The third meeting is on Thursday, Feb. 9th at the Ommelanden Hunter Education Center, 1205 River Road, New Castle. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.
"We strongly encourage all members to attend one of the meetings, learn more about what DNREC has in mind, and voice their opinion," said Marvin.