California Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced legislation that would transition California’s calendar-based fishing license to one that’s valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. The bill would also include a mobile phone app designed to make fishing easier and more accessible for more people.
“It’s time for California to abandon its antiquated fishing license sales system,” Wood said. “Modernizing this to a full 365-day license from the date of purchase will encourage more Californians to fish and increase fishing license revenues that fund critical state fishing and conservation programs.”
“Prior to 2020, annual license sales had experienced a decline starting in 1980 to the tune of 55 percent, while the state’s population has increased over 60 percent since that time, Wood said. ‘In 2020, California fishing license sales spiked upward due to increased participation in angling activities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the long-term trend is still downward.”
In fact, while California has a population of more than 39.8 million people, one of the country’s longest coastlines, more than 3,000 lakes, and thousands of rivers and streams, it has the lowest fishing participation rate per capita in the country. A leading contributor to declining fishing participation rates is costly fishing licenses that are not valid for a full 365 days from the date of purchase.
“Past bipartisan support underscores the recognition by members of the State Legislature that California’s outdated sport fishing license system does not properly serve anglers in the Golden State,” said Wayne Kotow, Executive Director of CCA CAL. “Providing anglers access to a fishing license that provides greater value and technology that makes fishing more accessible is long overdue.”
“This bill also complements the current California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) R3 program,” Kotow added. “R3 stands for Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation of California anglers, and what better way to achieve these goals than to boost the value of a license purchased by an angler? It’s kind of a no-brainer.”
This is not the first attempt to pass such a bill in California. Just last year, Assembly Bill 1387, also proposed by Wood to establish a 365-day license, was taken off the docket in the fall legislative session due to COVID-19. Similar bills in years past also failed to pass, despite the fact that 14 other states have now transitioned to a 365-day license. According to Rob Southwick and Associates, a national marketing and economics firm that analyses fishing license sales throughout the country, their analysis suggests that states that offer a 365-day license are outperforming revenue of states that only offer a calendar-based license.
The proposed bill would also require the CDFW to create an app by which anglers can display sport fishing and hunting licenses on mobile devices. Several other states offer mobile phone apps that provide anglers information on fishing locations, regulations, fish stocking schedules, campground reservations, and more. The bill would also allow anglers to sign up for automatic license renewals.
Under the bill’s language, there will be no increase in the fee charged for the 365-day license versus a calendar license, and if passed, the 365-day license would go into effect on January 1, 2022.
California’s sport fishing license remains among the costliest in the country, second only to the State of Washington. Since 1986, the price of California’s resident annual fishing license has increased 216 percent, which is 41 percent greater than the rate of inflation. Today, the license costs 110 percent over the national average. California’s 1 million recreational anglers contribute over $4.6 billion annually to California’s economy, a major contributor to outdoor tourism and jobs.
Wood was elected in 2014 and represents Assembly District 2, a Northern California district including 300 miles of coastline and many state parks, lakes, rivers, and streams.
To learn more about AB 817, visit ccacalifornia.org.