AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A federal law is now in effect that requires salt water anglers to register by phone or on the internet. The requirement is new to Maine anglers who have historically fished on salt water without any requirement and for free. The privilege continues to be free, at least for the meanwhile.
The change takes place so that the federal government can get better information about recreational fishing pressure on anadromous fish. "By registering, recreational anglers will make their catch count," said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA assistant administrator for fisheries. "The National Saltwater Angler Registry is an important tool that will enable us to better estimate the health of marine fisheries so that we're able to preserve the pastime of recreational saltwater fishing for generations to come."
The registry has been met with mixed reviews in Maine, where there was no previous requirement for salt water fishermen. However, Maine's Department of Marine Resources, which is responsible for administering the registry, is concerned. It does not want to take on added responsibility without some added revenue coming in. It is promoting a salt water fishing license. This would defray the cost of the registry as well as some of the wardens who now police the sport. It would also create a revenue source for programs that would improve fish populations and fund the construction of new boat ramps that would make more of Maine's coast available to fishermen.
Some sportsmen's group support a salt water license for Maine. Others do not. The Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and its powerful George Smith lead the opposition. They have proposed an inexpensive registry that would be free for fishermen. "This is not the time to go creating new programs," said Smith.
This year, the registry is free. Anglers may register by clicking on the link to the right. It takes about one minute to register. They may call 1-888-674-7411, which can take several minutes due to call volume.