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A Fishing License For Part-Time Anglers

February 15, 2008

St. Paul, MN – A new type of fishing license will either "fish or cut bait," so to speak, in the Minnesota Legislature. It would cost less, but also reduce the number of fish an angler can catch. The bill was introduced Thursday by Senator Tom Bakk.

"We're calling it a 'Conservation Fishing License,' and it creates an option for people to voluntarily agree to reduce the 'take' of fish they can have in their daily, or possession, limit."

Bakk explains the proposed new license would be an alternative for the state Department of Natural Resources' options of raising license fees or reducing limits, or both, because of dwindling fish resources. Bakk prefers the voluntary system, and says the plan also would make fishing more affordable for occasional anglers, who don't need a full license.

"If our fishing resource is in question, reducing the take is important, but I think the better way to reduce it is though a voluntary effort on the part of the angling community. In creating a conservation license, they would pay two-thirds of the regular cost, but they'd agree to keep only half of the regular limit."

Bakk also sees the idea as a way to change the "culture" of fishing, which traditionally measures success in numbers of fish caught, rather than as a quality recreational experience. He is confident that the state's conservation goals can be reached voluntarily, rather than by hitting anglers in the pocketbook.

The idea is getting support from conservation advocates. The Minnesota spokesman for the Pew Environmental Group, Christopher Cox, says a cheaper license would be a "good catch" for anglers and for all Minnesotans, as well as a money-saving way to promote conservation.

"It will encourage more people to come out and enjoy the wonderful wilderness areas and wetland areas that we're so fortunate to have here in Minnesota. It also rewards the generally good behavior by the most avid of our anglers, which is 'catch-and-release.'"

A companion bill was introduced in the House Thursday by Representative David Dill.

Jim Wishner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - MN