Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Sat. Dec 26, 09 -- Drippy, cool -- but registry is hot issue

Saturday, December 26, 2009: Waves: 4-6 feet.

Kinda lousy out there. Too bad, since many anglers are down for the weekend and wanting to wet a line, possibly for the last time in 2009. Tomorrow might be decent.

There was an article in the Press of AC about the fisherman registry/census. It was a nice rundown of what’s what.

I’d like to make it doubly clear that either the feds or NJ itself can handle the registry thing for the Garden State. If DC does it, they get any profits. It NJ does it, the state gets the profits.

What I want to take a shotgun blast at is the whole “profit” thing. Why the hell should there be profit!? Go ahead and do the angler count but why won’t 5 bucks per head get it done – covering all technical expenses?

I’ve heard some absurd overages (i.e. profits) would be made – so much so that many anglers are already stumping to make sure that at least some of the potential “millions” in profits will go back to fishermen.

My friends, that much monetary gain makes it a tax, plain and simple. And a tax is so much dirtier than the purportedly noble intent of conserving fisheries. What’s more, this registry is not supposed to be a frickin’ industry. But, mark my words, some NJ registry czar will soon arise that will make 6 figures a year and have a staff to boot. Sure, it creates a few new jobs but at the expense of the angling industry – which will surely lose jobs with a “license” reducing angler participation.

I do want to address some ugly trickle down effects if the state of NJ essentially foots the bill for the registry (not that here is a huge likelihood), making a fee licensing unnecessary. Can you imagine the rush to the Jersey Shore by anglers (especially day-hopping/weekend anglers) from other states? Talk about instantly zipping through our already perilous annual fish allotments. Our fluke poundage would be gone by Memorial Day weekend. Even tackle shops, which would make out at first with larger customer flows, would die when fish bags get reduced to near nothing to meet the pressure of a “free” fishing state.

Face it, they got us by the balls on this saltwater licensing thing. I think we have to make certain this does not become a big-profit industry that sends all our fee money into the carelessly-emptied state coffers. The best way to do that is to monitor every dollar of the registry – and make sure it is kept lean and that profits go right back into the system.

PS: You’ likely notice a marked support for the registry on the part of the Division of Fish and Wildlife – and I fully see their angle. That division of the DEP has been all but strangled blue by lack of adequate state funding. It has resorted to all but begging for funding, while being so under-staffed that single officers must cover massive acreage, single-handed. Fish and Wildlife is desperately hoping some of the profits from the registry will come its way early on. I agree with them so fully that we, as anglers, should seek a state mandate assuring the enhanced funding of Fish and Wildlife be part of the distribution of registry profits. And yes, it can legislatively mandated that registry profits be directed to specific usages – and not just diverted into the black hole of state spending. By the by, we have to be in on this dedicated funding thing early on, lest we lose a big share of the funding forever. Personally, I wonder why one penny of it should go into the state coffers. We pay through the nose to the state in everything from taxes on angling items to numerous licenses and fees already in place. Please stay involved during this first year, when all the ropes will be laid for likely decades of licensing to come.

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