Youth Fishing Program Legislation Introduced

HARRISBURG – State Rep. Bruce Smith, R-Lewisberry, introduced legislation Monday that would create a Youth Fishing License for children ages 12 to 15 years old.

The license would cost $5, and the proceeds would be directed to programs benefiting youth anglers, said Smith, who chairs the House Game and Fisheries Committee.

“This measure has the full support of the Fish and Boat Commission and the Governor’s Youth Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation,” Smith said. “This is a ‘fun’-raising measure, not a fundraising measure, as the proceeds from the licenses will be used to promote the joys of fishing. At the same time, it’s educational. More young students will learn about fishing in their schools, clubs and through community fishing organizations.”

The potential annual revenue from a junior license would be $2.1 million per year. Over the past few years, an average of $480,000 annually was spent by the Fish and Boat Commission on programs targeting youth. All additional dollars generated by the junior license will be dedicated to programs for youth.

If House Bill 2900 becomes law, Pennsylvania would join 13 states that require some form of license or permit for their youth anglers. The average cost of a youth fishing license nationwide is $12.16.

Smith said the Fish and Boat Commission is committed to ensuring that cost won’t be a barrier for youngsters who cannot afford a license.

“The commission will work with clubs and organizations to sponsor the purchase of licenses for youngsters who can’t afford them,” Smith said.

Smith said that a youth license was proposed as recently as 2004 but the idea was dropped when some lawmakers expressed concern about enforcement and other problems.

Smith said that he has been assured that potential enforcement problems have been ironed out and that if waterways conservation officers encounter unlicensed youth they will use it as an opportunity to inform rather than punish.

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