Legislation Seeks to Exempt Virginia Anglers from Federal Fees and Retain Boat License

The General Assembly has passed Senator Northam’s SB668 to exempt Virginia anglers from having to pay the $25 fee associated with the Federally-mandated National Saltwater Angler Registry.

SB668 has been amended to create a state-level angler identification system, similar to the Hunter Identification Program run by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

This solution will allow Virginia to maintain the recreational boat license, as well as the license exemptions for piers, rental boats, senior citizens, and private shoreline. The state program will be administered through the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and will be paid for through increases of up to $5 on individual licenses, and up to $10 on boat  licenses. Instead of paying the Federal government to register, anglers with a Virginia license will be registered automatically, and anglers exempted from Virginia licensing requirements will only have to call in and obtain an identification number free of charge.

“As is the norm with compromises, this one is not perfect,” said Northam. “However, it does accomplish the goals of exempting Virginians from Federal fees and fines, and also allows us to keep the boat license, as well as all existing license exemptions.”

The legislation was introduced in response to a VMRC study that provided options on how Virginia could comply with the Federal mandate.  The data collected from the new system will improve the quantity and quality of data available to manage
fisheries sustainably, and will help prevent the kind of stock collapses that have led to massive job losses, regional economic depressions, and serious environmental effects in the past.

The bill was reported from a conference committee and passed the Senate and House of Delegates. It will now go to Governor McDonnell for his signature.