Today at its quarterly meeting the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) voted to create a voluntary $1 youth fishing license and to dedicate the revenue generated from it to programs to increase youth fishing participation.
“Increasing youth and family participation in fishing, boating, and conservation programs has always been part of our strategic plan,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “This goal responds to the fact that the percentage of children and young adults ages 6 to 15 who fished in Pennsylvania in 2010 was only 24 percent, as compared to 37 percent in 2005 and 41 percent in 1995. We want to continue to refine and develop programs to engage kids.”
A youth license also provides an added benefit when it comes to federal funding, which accounts for approximately 25 percent of the PFBC’s budget. For every youth license sold, the PFBC will receive approximately $5 in federal revenue from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Act program, which provides funds to states based on a formula that includes the number of licenses a state sells.
According to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 367,000 children and young adults ages 6 to 15 fished in Pennsylvania in 2010.
“I want to emphasize that this is purely a voluntary youth license, and it is not required for kids to fish,” Arway said. “If just 25 percent of those 367,000 children were to purchase a voluntary $1 license, it would result in more than $550,000 in revenue for the Commission to invest in youth programs,” added Arway.
He added that the potential market for voluntary youth license sales goes beyond the youth anglers and their family and friends. Clubs, organizations, businesses, individuals and others who are interested in promoting youth angling could purchase quantities of voluntary youth license vouchers to distribute to children.
Once a voluntary youth license is purchased or a youth license voucher is redeemed, the individual will be assigned a unique customer identification number (CID).
“Having unique CIDs allows us to analyze license purchasing patterns and trends, tailor messages and programs, and correspond directly with customers,” Arway added.
The voluntary youth license will be available beginning Feb. 1 from all licensing agents and online through the PFBC’s Outdoor Shop. With a $1 agent fee and a $0.70 transaction fee, the total cost to purchase the license will be $2.70.
Youth who plan to participate in the upcoming Mentored Youth Fishing Days must obtain either a voluntary youth fishing license or a free mentored youth fishing permit. It is not necessary to obtain both. The Mentored Youth Fishing Days are scheduled for March 22 and April 5.
Also today, Commissioners voted to seek public comment on a staff proposal to remove the option seniors 65 and older currently have to purchase a lifetime trout/salmon permit in conjunction with the purchase of a $50 senior resident lifetime fishing license.
Under the proposal, seniors who want to fish for trout would have to purchase a permit each year, beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Seniors who purchase a lifetime trout/salmon permit in conjunction with a lifetime license before that date would be grandfathered.
“About 70 percent of seniors purchase a trout/salmon permit, which mirrors the rate for other anglers,” said Arway. “The Commission’s trout program accounts for 36 percent of the Fish Fund annual expenditures, and the cost of trout production continues to rise. We simply can no longer afford to allow anglers to fish for trout without paying for the annual permit.”
The PFBC estimates that the proposed change would generate approximately $300,000 in additional annual revenue by the fifth year. Once the notice of proposed rulemaking is published in the PA Bulletin, individuals will have 30 days to submit comments. Comments can be submitted through the PFBC website.