WDFW Coffers Get Boost During Recession

Just as their angling brethren south of the Columbia took to the water when the economy tanked, so too did Washington fishermen — and WDFW’s coffers benefitted by a couple million bucks.

A whopping 939,455 bought fishing permits of all kinds during the April 1, 2009-March 31, 2010 license year, a 14 percent jump over the year before, and the most going back to at least 2001-2002, according to state figures obtained by Northwest Sportsman today.

“Whether that’s due to the economy, a new-found appreciation of fishing or a combination of factors is anyone’s guess,” says WDFW spokesman Craig Bartlett in Olympia.

While the statewide unemployment rate in 2009 was 8.9 percent, last summer saw very large returns of pink salmon to Puget Sound, coho to the Skagit River, and silvers and steelhead to the Columbia River system.

In fact, so many steelies returned to the upper Columbia and Southeast Washington that fishery managers required anglers keep every single hatchery fish they caught on the former and boosted limits to five a day on the latter.

Oregon, of course, shared in much of that same fishing bounty, and ODFW also saw best-of-the-decade freshwater resident fishing license sales during the state’s Jan. 1-Dec. 31 license year.

Even with unemployment as high as 11.6 percent, the agency sold 303,267, 30,000 more than the next closest year, 2007, when unemployment bottomed out in the low 5s, and 50,000 more than the lowest license sales year, 2005, when 6 percent were laid off.

Interestingly, the 2005-06 license year also saw the lowest sales of the decade in Washington too, 768,593, according to state stats.

The Idaho Department of Fish & Game reported their highest fishing license sales since 1999, nearly 473,600 last year as well.

The nearly 940,000 licenses Washington sold include freshwater, saltwater, combo, shellfish and other permits, and raised $20.4 million, nearly $2 million more than the next closest year, 2004-05, and $2.7 million more than 2009-09. A 10 percent surcharge approved by the state Legislature that went into effect late last July probably contributed to the total, though how much is unclear.

In WDFW’s $432 million 2007-09 operating and capital budgets, user fees such as commercial and recreational fishing and hunting licenses, fines and forfeitures, etc., contributed $65.8 million. The Federal government pumped in $128.7 million, the state general fund $110.4 million, and the balance came from local revenues, bonds and other sources.

Commercial and recreational fishing and hunting license fees,
fines and forfeitures, and miscellaneous revenue.
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One Response to “WDFW Coffers Get Boost During Recession”

  1. WDFW Looks At License Increases « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] April 1, 2009-March 31, 2010 license year, nearly 940,000 fishing permits of all kinds were sold, a 14 percent jump over the year before, and the most going back to at least 2001-2002, according to figures I got […]

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