What Happens To Your Fishing Licence Money

Your fishing licence money supports conservation, but how does that work?

Conservation is a serious and costly business. Yet, your fishing fees help stimulate the US economy and create about 68,000 jobs.

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: The Economic Value of Fisheries Conservation 2011 report, the Fisheries Program contributes $3.6 billion each year to the US economy.

Just how big is $3.6 billion? Well, a company with $3.6 billion would rank #41 on the Fortune 500 List of America’s Most Profitable Corporations. That’s just behind Verizon.

About Licences

Fishing licences are nothing new. The USA introduced licences back in the 1900s. But in fact, Oregon blazed the way in 1899 after over-fishing of their sturgeon fishery. In response, the state instituted commercial licences. Two years later they extended it to include recreational fishing.

Indiana was next. In 1913, it added fishing allowances to the existing hunting licence. Pennsylvania followed in 1919 requiring only non-residents to apply for fishing licences. By 1922 it became mandatory for residents.

Fishing legislation is important to fishing conservation and preservation

Over the years there has been talk of a national licence. This is very unlikely to happen as state licences are a revenue source for individual states.

How do anglers contribute to fish conservation?

Anglers have A LOT to do with fish conservation. For example, revenue from licences, fishing gear and boat fuel goes to protecting waterways and wildlife.

Manufacturers pay a tax to the federal government on sales of fishing equipment. Based on the number of licensed anglers and the size of the territory, that state receives a part of those funds.

So the state makes money from your fishing licence, no news there. But where is the cash going? What’s the money used for?

Protecting and preserving the sport of fishing is where the money goes.

A more specific answer is harder to pin down because each state may use the money differently.

Minnesota – example of fishing licence money collection and distribution

Here’s an example. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ 2011 operating budget of about $35 million came from:

  • 50% came from anglers who buy a fishing licence or stamps
  • 32% from federal tax on fishing gear
  • 12% from Minnesota State Lottery revenues
  • 4% comprises four funds: clean water, water recreation, special revenue, and gift

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources spent its 2011 Fisheries Section budget:

  • conducting 650-700 lakes surveys per year and 180 river and stream surveys
  • writing 400 natural resource plans per year
  • collecting half a billion walleye eggs resulting in 390 million fry and 2.5 million fingerlings
  • stocking about 1,000 lakes with walleye
  • managing a total of 17 hatcheries that provided walleye, trout, muskellunge and other species for waters in the state
  • stocking muskellunge in 59 lakes and the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers
  • improving five to eight miles of stream habitat per year
  • delivering aquatic and angling education programs to thousands of youth per year

The future of angling

The fishing environment is where the fishing licence money goes

Fishing does have a positive impact on waterways and conservation. And licensing ensures a continuing future. But we also need to look at potential disruption to the status quo.

After inauguration in January 2017, President Trump set to work dismantling many laws. Laws that had been hard fought. We’re not getting into politics here, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the negative repercussions of repealing the Clean Water Act.

So, some may think the annual permit is an expensive hassle. But, in fact, your hard-earned cash goes back into making your next fishing trip more enjoyable.

And who can argue with that!

Be sure to pay your fishing licence money! Click on your state below to apply:

*all links correct as of end February 2017 – please let us know if you find an error and we’ll update our list asap.

Do you have questions? Just let us know below!

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