State fishing licenses given full legal status
The National Marine Fisheries Service approved Rhode Island’s Recreational Saltwater Fishing License Programs, giving Rhode Island full legal status as an exempted state under the National Saltwater Angler Registry Program.
Effective immediately, the new Rhode Island license program meets all the requirements of federal law, meaning that state licenses will now be incorporated into the new national database and that anglers and spearfishers in Rhode Islander waters will no longer have to register with the federal government.
Although the federal registration was previously free, starting in 2011 the annual fee with be $15. The annual fee for the state saltwater license will be $7 for residents and $10 for non-residents. Under the state programs, no fee will be issued to Rhode Island residents over the age of 65 and active military personnel stationed in Rhode Island.
Also, the state license affords reciprocity. Rhode Island license holders can fish in neighboring state waters without getting a neighboring state license, and can also fish in federal waters without having to obtain a federal registration.
The approval of the program will also keep money in Rhode Island. Fees generated by the federal registry will be deposited into the U.S. Treasury, whereas fees collected from Rhode Island licenses will be used for management of fishing programs and improvements to recreational fishing access.
There are two types of fishermen now exempt from federal registration: individual anglers and spearfishers, and licensed charter boats. Charter boat guests are not required to be licensed or registered; the vessel owner will be responsible for the legalities pertaining to their customers. Exempt from having a license are children under 16, blind or permanently disabled individuals, active military personnel on leave and holders of Highly Migratory Species Angling permits.
Since April, a total of 16,112 state licenses have been issued, while 33,862 Rhode Islanders obtained a free federal registration. With the federal registry adopting a fee, it is anticipated that the large majority of those who registered federally will now register in Rhode Island.
Licenses are available at www.saltwater.ri.gov.