Frank G. Dwyer
January 14, 2009
Saltwater fishermen will once again be able to take to the sea without a license, however one way or another, we will have to register with either a Federal Registry or buy a State License, whichever happens to be in place by January 1, 2010.
Massachusetts has wrestled with this question in the past and if a state does not have a registry (aka saltwater license) in place by January 2010, saltwater anglers will have to register via NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries Service federal registration.
If Massachusetts does not have a saltwater license program in place anglers who fish in federal ocean waters or in tidal waters for anadromous species (migratory fish such as striped bass and salmon that spawn in rivers and spend their adult lives in estuaries and oceans), they will need to register with the Federal Registry. The registry is expected to be free the first few years with a nominal fee added in future years.
Those registering via the Federal Registry will need to include the angler's name, date of birth, address, telephone number, and the regions where they intend to fish. The information will be used to conduct surveys on fishing effort and numbers of fish caught. Once anglers have registered, they may fish anywhere in U.S. federal waters, or in tidal waters for anadromous species, regardless of the region specified in their registration.
The registration will be valid for one year from its date of issue. Anglers must comply with applicable state licensing requirements when fishing in state waters. Anglers will be able to register online or by calling a toll-free number that will be publicized, and will receive a registration certificate. Anglers will need to carry this certificate (or their state license from an exempt state) and produce it to an authorized enforcement officer if requested.