Outdoors -- Salt water license issue finally passes
By Gene Price
Published in Sports on August 28, 2005 2:12 AM
The "salt water fishing license" was approved by a conference committee of members of the House and Senate last week.
It has some interesting provisions -- one of which is sure to spur a rush for lifetime sportsmen's licenses in the final months of this year.
To answer a frequent question posed by lifetime license holders: They will be "grandfathered in" under the new license requirement for fishing in salt water.
More specifically, anyone holding a lifetime sportsman's license or lifetime comprehensive fishing license by the end of this calendar year will be exempt from having to buy the new "salt water" license.
A lifetime sportsman's license costs $500. Under the new law, an adult wanting a lifetime license to hunt and fish anywhere in the state -- including coastal waters -- would need a Lifetime Unified Sportsman/Coastal Recreational Fishing License, which will cost $650.
The annual coastal recreational fishing licenses, which becomes effective in 2007, will be $15 for residents and $30 for nonresidents. This allows for fishing in coastal waters and joint waters -- but not in inland waters.
The unified inland/coastal license will be $35. This allows for fishing in all state waters.
Then there will be the resident unified sportsman/coastal fishing licenses for $55 which allows one to hunt and fish across the state, and includes hunting for waterfowl.
State residents may buy a 10-day permit to fish in joint and coastal waters for $5. The same permit for nonresidents is $10.
Blanket licenses will be available for pier and party boat operators.
Pier operators will pay $4 per foot, which will allow customers to fish there without licenses.
Party boats licensed to carry six or fewer clients will pay $250 and those licensed to carry more than six passengers will pay $350.
Where the money will go
In addition to operational costs, funds generated by the licenses sales will go "to manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate, conserve and enhance the marine resources of the State."
The Division of Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources Commission will be able to submit proposals for expenditures to the executive director of Marine Fisheries.
All proposals subsequently must be approved by both the Wildlife Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission.
WRC funds tapped
To implement the new "salt water' fishing law, the Wildlife Resources Commission will be required to provide up to $1 million from its operating funds. The Marine Fisheries Commission will be required to replace this amount in July, 2010.
Meanwhile, the Wildlife Commission must transfer $3.4 million in annual installments of $680,000 from its Endowment Fund to the Marine Resources Endowment Fund.
The lawmakers said this will compensate for the fact that holders of lifetime licenses will be allowed to fish coastal waters but will not be required to buy the new licenses.
Lifetime license fees built the Wildlife Endowment Fund.
A new birding guide has been published with specific focus on North Carolina.
Birding North Carolina is a 209-page guide about where to go bird-watching in North Carolina, how to get there, when and what kinds of birds are likely to be seen.
The editors were Mark Johns, a biologist with the Wildlife Commission, and Marshall Brooks, a professor at N.C. Wesleyan College.
They say the book is not intended as a "picture guide." But it includes 44 site chapters giving detailed information including maps, travel tips, field hazards, lodging, etc.
The book sells for $12.95 and profits will go toward bird conservation projects, according to a Wildlife Commission news release.
Recreational fishermen from Ocracoke Inlet to the Virginia line must report striped bass caught in the Atlantic Ocean. The Division of Marine Fisheries said the order will be in effect until October 31 so it can improve data on ocean catches during warm weather months. In the future, the requirment will apply to recreational anglers from May through October.
Reporting cards are available at marinas, tackle shops and piers in Currituck, Dare and Hyde counties.
Catches must be tagged before being removed from vessels or piers.
The number of hunters in North Carolina declined 22 percent in 10 years according to a study conducted in 2001.
That was a far greater decline than was experienced nationwide. Across the country, the drop was only 7 percent.
Much of it can be attributed to lack of opportunity as former hunting land became subdivisions and shopping centers. And much of existing lands are leased by private clubs. Also, dual-income families working longer hours could be a factor -- along with greater competition for leisure time.
The Wildlife Resources Commission wants to find how it can attract new hunters. And the National Shooting Sports Foundation is helping. The foundation has made a $15,000 grant to the Wildlife Commission to be used in exploring how to create greater interest and opportunities for hunters.
A symposium to explore possibilities will be held October 11-12 at the Craven Convention Center in New Bern. Participants will pay particular attention to encouraging families to take part in not only hunting but developing other interests and skills involving the outdoors.
Providing more opportunities for the disabled and attracting more women and minorities to the sport will be discussed.
Hunting clubs and other interest groups will be invited to take part in the symposium. For more information: Call Susie Fish at (919)733-3391, extension 225.
A $69,000 grant from Ducks Unlimited has helped the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquire 960 acres of prime pintail nesting habitat in South Dakota. "Without Ducks Unlimited, the acquisition just wouldn't have happened," said a spokesman for the USFWS.
The property includes 123 acres of wetlands and is adjacent to a 1,441-acre waterfowl production area.
Ducks Unlimited, which raises funds through banquets across the country, has underwritten projects enhancing waterfowl habitat throughout the continental U.S., Canada and in Mexico.
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