Price Of WA Saltwater License Could Rise

Washington anglers may find themselves paying a few more bucks to fish for Chinook, coho and other species in the ocean.

Freshwater anglers could also see a bump in their license fees.

But similar to hunting license increase proposals WDFW has drummed up, youths and senior fishermen would be shielded, says Jo Wadsworth, deputy assistant director of the Fish Program.

The agency is preparing to deal with a 10 percent cut to its general fund in the next biennium’s budget and continuing revenue shortfalls as the recession drags on.

However, there’s “a long way to go before anything is final,” Wadsworth cautioned during a telephone call early this afternoon.

Ultimately, Legislators will decide whether to raise license fees during next year’s session, but Wadsworth says WDFW’s proposal could raise $10 million to $12 million.

It would help cover a two-year 10 percent surcharge on all licenses that sunsets at the end of June 2011.

But rather than raising fees across the board, WDFW’s strategy is to give some sportsmen a break but ask others to pony up more.

“It’s anywhere from not at all for youth and seniors because we’re trying to promote family fishing and recreation for seniors with limited incomes to proposed 12 to 24 percent increases,” says Wadsworth.

The 12 and 24 percent increases — for freshwater and saltwater licenses, respectively — reflect the rise from presurcharge prices.

Factoring in the surcharge, it’s an increase of 2 and 14 percent — or $.48 and $3.10.

Wadsworth explains that salty dogs would be hit harder because of the intense monitoring and creel sampling at multiple ports that some fisheries, such as salmon and halibut, require.

It’s somewhat similar on the hunting side, where those few sportsmen who chase bandtail pigeons, sea ducks and brant may be asked to pay more to cover the staffing costs to hold those seasons and gather harvest data.

WDFW wants to keep the basic hunting package — deer tag and small game license — the same price, but proposes boosting prices for elk licenses and permit apps for mountain goats, bighorns, moose and certain buck and bull hunts.

The last license increase for Washington sportsmen was a decade ago.

“Over time you can do less and less because your buying power is less and less,” says Wadsworth.

The dictate coming from the governor’s office, she says, is “the users need to pay.”

“We’re not proposing that this fixes everything,” she says. “We’re trying to avoid reducing opportunities.”

Wadsworth notes that even though the recession has taken a toll on disposable income, large numbers of people are still going fishing, though she expects some will not be happy about the proposed hikes.

“We have put into our calculations some resistance,” she says. “But when you think about what you’re buying, you can get a combo license for $48 and you can fish every species for a year, that’s a bargain.”

Increases in commercial fishing fees are also being looked at, Wadsworth adds.

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One Response to “Price Of WA Saltwater License Could Rise”

  1. ‘Eliminating Steelhead Fishing In Puget Sound’ Rivers « Northwest Sportsman Says:

    […] session where the agency conceivably needs sportsman and -woman support for lawmakers to pass license and other fee increases to stabilize its budget as well as again possibly fend off merging WDFW […]

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