NAPLES — Some Southwest Florida anglers are floundering about the new shoreline fishing license but said at least the new fee isn’t too stiff.
Florida residents have always been able to fish the shore without a license but a new state law, effective Saturday Aug. 1, will force them to shell out $7.50 for a shoreline fishing license.
“I think it’s unnecessary,” Naples resident Andy Reschke said. “It seems like an insignificant amount so I don’t really see the purpose but I fish the shore a lot so I’ll end up buying one.”
Some residents said the price may be low but in this economy every penny counts.
“I don’t think this is the best timing,” Naples resident Pauline Gagne said. “These days people are thinking twice before spending even $7.”
Lee Schlesinger, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said for $10 more, residents can buy a saltwater license, which covers any saltwater fishing, including shoreline, so it’s a better bargain.
Other residents said the new fee will only hurt those who fish on the shores because they cannot afford to pay the saltwater licensing fees.
“Most people I know have the saltwater license anyway so they are covered,” Naples charter captain Bob Fischer said. “It’s the people who can’t afford the fees who will suffer the most.”
Schlesinger said the license was suggested to help bring tax dollars back into the state fishing industry.
“An upcoming federal mandate would have forced shoreline anglers to pay a $15 to $25 registration fee as of Jan. 1 2010 anyways, so this is our way of avoiding that,” Schlesinger said. “Plus for every new license we sell, we get matching funds from the federal government that will go back into the fishery. This is tax payer’s dollars being put to work for them.”
Naples resident John Martunas agreed that the license will help boost the industry during tough times.
“The economy needs it,” Martunas said. “It will only help boost the state industry and is really a bargain for 365 days of fishing.”
The new shoreline angler’s license will go on sale July 15.
The license does not apply to fishing piers, such as the Naples Pier, that have been issued a pier saltwater fishing license.
The penalty for getting caught without a license is an infraction with a $50 fine plus cost of the appropriate license and administrative fees varying by county, Schlesinger said.
He said that authorities will take an “educational approach” after the new law goes into effect. Officers are expected to hand out warnings until they feel everyone is aware of the new license law but Schlesinger said they will be taking it seriously and everyone will be expected to yield.
The shoreline license requirement includes two new exemptions for anglers drawing food stamps, temporary cash assistance or Medicaid and those who use cane poles or gear that does not depend on mechanical retrieval, according to a press release from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Fishing license Resident Non-resident
Freshwater (1 year) $17 $47
Saltwater (1 year) $17 $47.50
Snook stamp - $2
Shoreline $7.50 N/A*
* Non-residents do not have an option to buy the shoreline license
For more information: http://taxbooks.mioinc1.com/Manatee/pg48-56.pdf