Pa. Fish and Boat Commission looking to increase cost of fishing license, among other fees to support the agency

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DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Anglers, be on the lookout for some different fees in the coming months.

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission is looking for new ways to fund the department.

There’s more anglers casting out in Pennsylvania than in years past so why is there less funding for the Pa. Fish & Boat Commission?

“The trouble is they’re not buying licenses because they're in different age groups, or some don't have to buy licenses," said John Arway, the executive director for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

Arwat says there are more seniors and children baiting their hooks, people who don't need to buy a license.

Except the PA. Fish and Boat Commission still has bills to pay.

"Over time, you can imagine that unless you continue to increase sales just like a private business would, to keep up with expenses, you either got to cut programs or raise fees and that's really the position we're in," explained Arway.

To keep up with increasing costs, the Fish & Boat Commission is considering a few changes:

  1. A $2.00 charge on the annual rules and regulations booklets fishermen have been getting for free.
  2. A charge on people who use Pa. Fish & Boat Commission property if those people do not hold a license, a boat registration, or launch permit.
  3. Increased permit fees for Scientific Collectors' Permits and permit fees for Triploid Grass Carp, Snapping Turtles, Venomous Snakes and Organized Reptile and Amphibian Hunts.

There is one definite change coming - voluntary permits for habitat conservation improvement, wild trout, muskie, and bass - meaning people can opt into paying a recommended price to fish those species in an effort to help fund the commission.

Officials also want the state legislature to approve an increase to the cost of a fishing license by $6.00 with a 3 percent increase each year after that.

FOX43 found anglers with different opinions on the proposed fees.

"It's crazy. The kids, these days, they can’t afford the license. It’s getting as bad as the hunting license," said Ron Lego, a fisherman.

"They’re getting a little carried away if they do it every year, add in a little bit more, they’re getting a bit carried away," said Dave Tremel, a fisherman from Red Lion. "That’s [a fee on property users] kind of ridiculous. I'm sorry, but that is. If I want to walk my dog, and I got to pay, I guess I'll just walk up the road somewhere.”

"I think they are way overdue. I think they’re not going to survive if they get an increase, and they truly need it," said Edna Dettinburn, who FOX43 found fishing with her family at Children's Lake.

The Pa. Fish & Boat Commission would like lawmakers to vote on the license increase in September. They’ll be discussing the other changes at a commissioners meeting in October.

The executive director says if the fees aren't approved, they may have to eliminate some hatcheries.

You can read his full statement called 'The Last Catch' here.

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