TIDEWATER, MARCH 2010
By Don Lancaster
Sometime around the end of December, I received
an e-mail requesting I register for a new FEDERAL program. The
title of the cover page read "Marine Recreational Information
Program (MRIP) & National Saltwater Angler Registry".
I read the flyer and since I learned that registration was
free, I completed the form, giving my name, address, and phone
numbers. The explanation was very clear about what is necessary
in 2010 and what will be required in 2011. So that I don't get
mixed up in attempting to explain the program, I will copy the
exact words (and include my comments in parenthesis).
What is the Marine Recreational Information Program
The MRIP is a public-private partnership working to improve saltwater
recreational fishing data and provide more informed fishery conservation.
A new saltwater angler registry, coming in 2010, will be an important
part of this ongoing effort.
What is the National Saltwater Angler Registry?
Starting in 2010, anglers who fish in federal waters (3-200 miles
offshore) or who catch fish such as striped bass, American shad,
hickory shad or river herring in tidal waters will have to register
with the federal government's NOAA Fisheries Service. The registry
will provide a muchneeded list of all saltwater recreational fishermen
- essentially a phonebook of recreational fishermen that is updated
Why is the registry important?
Through the registry, managers will be able to gather important
information about fishing habits of recreational anglers. Information
from all fishermen-recreational as well as commercial- is essential
to managing our fisheries. It's also a way for you and your catch
to be counted and support informed decisions that affect your
Why is the registry being established?
The U.S. Congress passed a law requiring NOAA Fisheries Service
to establish a national registry in order to improve the quality
of fishing data.
Will there be any exemptions from the registry requirement?
If states already have a program that gathers data necessary for
the registry (such as a complete saltwater fishing license that
accounts for all anglers), NOAA Fisheries Service may exempt anglers
from these states. In addition, the following individuals will
not be required to register:
· Anglers who fish only on licensed party, charter or guide
· Anglers under the age of 16
· Anglers fishing for anadromous species who do so exclusively
Inland of tidal waters;
· Individuals who hold a Highly Migratory species angling
· Individuals fishing under a commercial fishing license.
Will there be costs associated with registering?
Not initially. However a fee will be required in 2011.
What can I do?
Check with your state marine fisheries agency to see if your state
has or is planning for a program to exempt you from the NOAA registry
requirement. To get more specific information about MRIP go to:
Next, around Jan 11, I received an e-mail from VMRC, referencing
the National Saltwater Angler Registry and MRIP information pamphlet.
I quote, "Virginia is currently NOT an "exempt state"
for the National Saltwater Angler Registry, so please remind all
your fellow anglers, 16 years and older, to register this year.
It is free to register for 2010. If your friends will only be
fishing on licensed charter or party (headboats) boats this year,
they will not have to register as an individual.
We are looking into how we, Virginia, may be able to become an
"exempt state", but that has not happened for 2010.
The Virginia saltwater licensing structure allows for too many
license exemptions, like the boat license, 65 and over, private
property, etc. The VA legislature is looking into the issue this
Also, please help us on getting the word out that there is still
NO KEEPING STRIPED BASS CAUGHT IN THE EEZ (3 miles offshore and
farther)! This National Saltwater Angler Registry seems to be
confusing a lot of people into thinking they suddenly can.
My Personal Feelings and Comments
I feel that this National Registry is, on a larger scale, exactly
what VMRC initiated a couple years ago in their Virginia Saltwater
Fisherman's Journal, so the basic idea is sound. Since I am personally
one of the categories spelled out in the Federal program (65 and
over), I will gladly start purchasing an individual saltwater
license. I know that if everyone in Virginia takes the time to
register, our registry can contribute valuable data to establish
justifications for establishing or eliminating closed seasons,
size limits, possession limits, etc.
What is causing my tremendous heartburn is to begin
paying $12.50 for an individual saltwater fishing license after
a 9 year exemption, and then having the Federal program charge
me $25.00 to register with them. If that comes about, I will revert
to a 100% fresh water lake and pond angler.
I believe that VMRC will probably hold a series of public hearings
concerning the Registry, and if this comes about, I hope everyone
concerned attends and brings a few angling buddies along.
I think that having experienced over a month's abstinence from
fishing I have grown even grouchier than normal. Maybe with warmer
temperatures, less ice on the water, and calm winds, I will revert
back to my truly sweet disposition.
Until next month, tight lines, strong knots and sharp hooks.