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Sunday, June 6, 2010

2nd Newspaper Column

The Salt Water Registry/License

Many of you have heard about the new Federal Salt Water License (also known as the SWL). This has been met with some passionate and even angry response from many Mainers. The Federal plan that went into effect January 1st wants to get a count of all salt water anglers in every coastal state in the US. They want catch reports so they can better understand what are being caught, how many fish are being caught and angling methods. Without this data, it’s pretty difficult to make the proper decisions to help the resource and increase fish numbers. The latest estimate is the Federal fee will be between $15.00 and $25.00. It’s always been considered a right to go down to the shore and catch a fish or two. I understand. The problem is the Feds have already decided and we have NO CHOICE in the matter. It’s happened and we have to live with it! What’s vital for you to know is that if the Feds get the money, we will never see it and it’ll end up in the Federal coffers. If Maine passes its own registry, Maine gets to keep the funds. That money would be used to administer the registry and the left over funds can be used to help improve the fisheries in Maine!
Our legislature is taking this up as we speak. DMR estimates it will cost 330,000 dollars to administer and enforce it here in Maine. If we can pass our own SWL with a 15 dollar fee per license for anglers 16 years and older, it will raise 2.5 to 3 million dollars. That leaves a rather substantial amount of money left over to do many things. The DMR (Dept of Marine Resources) has asked The Maine Association of Charterboat Captains (MACC) what we think should be done with this issue. MACC would like to see Maine require all anglers to register. Those fishing for diadromous fish such as stripers and shad would pay the fee while those fishing from shore or docks for mackerel and other non diadromous species would register without a fee. That way you’d still be able to go after mackerel and other local fish for free. You know how bad the striped bass fishing has become. This new source of funds in conjunction with the Penobscot River Restoration will be a huge benefit to our state. Three dams will be removed and/or bypassed. The diadromous fish will then have access to over 1000 miles of spawning habitat. Consider how quickly we can restore fish populations if DMR gets funding enough to raise thousands (if not millions) of herring, alewives, shad and stripers to be released to help ‘jump start’ the fish population!
I do understand the reluctance of many to pay yet another fee but look at it this way, $15.00 dollars is dinner for 2 at the local fast food joint. For 15 dollars a year the benefits we will see will go way beyond what we have now in our salt water fisheries. Maine has until next January to get the state license together or we lose the funding to Washington.
If you are fishing this year without registering and you get checked you will only get a warning. Next year there will be a penalty of some sort, probably a ticket and fine. To register go to this address: http://www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/ it just takes a few minutes and there is no fee till next year. I’d love to get your thoughts and ideas on this issue. I’ll be sure to pass them along to DMR.
For you fly tiers there will be two upcoming free fly tying classes at Craig Brook Fish Hatchery in Orland on Feb 6, 9 am till noon, you can learn to tie two freshwater flies and on Feb 13, 9 am till noon it will be two saltwater flies. I will be the instructor for the salt water tying. Bring your tools, thread and vise. Everything else will be supplied. Contact richardhero@midmaine.com or call 359- 8999 to register. It’s free but classes are limited to ten persons.
And don’t forget about the second annual Slim’s Ice Fishing Derby on Toddy Pond February 13 and 14. Call 348-6938 to register. It’s for a great cause!
meguide@midmaine.com
http://www.eggemogginguideservice.net

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