More to license than just fishing

King: More to license than just fishing By Kent King, Rocky Mount Telegram Sunday, April 10, 2005

For several years the North Carolina General Assembly has considered the possibility of creating a law, requiring fishermen to possess a salt water license. Other states have these laws, so why not our state?

The privilege to fish our coastal rivers, sounds, and the Atlantic Ocean, has long been a given in North Carolina. There was in the past so much opposition to the license issue, legislators just let the bill slip quietly by the wayside.

Last year, our state lawmakers approved the idea of a saltwater fishing license. The details of the new plan are supposed to be worked out in this spring session.

With this new license a looming possibility, there are some major issues to be considered. The most mportant factor is the price of fishing for our saltwater species.

Residents of our state should get a price break over fishermen who come from other states to take our fish. After all, we pay taxes here that go toward roads and other necessities that lead to our favorite fishing grounds.

Our taxes pay for boat ramps, fish restoration efforts, game wardens to manage our resources and agencies to monitor our water quality. It is only fair that out of state fishermen pay more to fish in our prime waters.

Another issue is what governmental agency will have the power to enforce a new license. The Division of Marine Fisheries is the most likely authority, but the changes they will have to implement are mind-boggling.

Surely, there are not enough officers to check each fisherman on our sprawling coastline. They will have to hire many more officers to patrol our coastal waters. They need more boats, more trucks, more paperwork, and more gasoline. Where do you suppose all this money will come from?

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