Why should recreational anglers have to pay government just to catch some fish?
Why should recreational anglers have to pay government just to catch some fish?In a nation founded by revolutionaries, I simply do not think I should have to get written permission from the government and pay a fee to put a couple of fishing poles and a bucket in my Jeep and head to the beach to fish for a couple of hours.What an annoying and intrusive hassle for the people of Florida to endure ? somehow our republic survived when I grew up fishing at the Jupiter Inlet without the government getting involved.Thus, I'd like to offer three points in support my Senate Bill 744, which would eliminate the recreational fishing license in Florida.First, the only rationale for the recreational fishing license is to generate revenue. With all the taxes and tolls we pay in a $70 billion state budget, surely we can find a few million dollars to fund the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which I acknowledge is an important and essential state law enforcement agency.We do not fund the highway patrol from traffic tickets; FHP is included in the base budget of Florida. Does it really make sense to nickel-and-dime anglers with yet another fee to fund FWC and some conservation programs? Is requiring a license to fish an efficient revenue-collection method?Nothing in my bill would change catch limits or other rules designed to protect our fisheries. Commercial fishermen still would be licensed. As a former appropriations chairman, I can tell you that people benefit when the Legislature reviews every budget line item every year rather than setting up perpetual fee-based annuities that escape oversight.Second, how does the average law-abiding person even know you are supposed to have a license to fish? A retired FBI agent recently fishing at Hobe Sound beach was shocked to learn that he had to get a license to fish from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean.When you get your fishing license, the state should also provide you with a two-hour legal tutorial on how the system works. It is complicated. No license required if you are fishing in a private pond of 20 acres or less. Cane poles?Excluded. Different rates for three days, one week or a year. Saltwater license for shoreline fishing required but free for residents; our visitors and guests pay. Some teenagers have to get a license; others do not. Another exemption applies if you are a resident fishing in saltwater from a structure fixed to the land.All this bother and badgering just to go fishing? I feel badly for the dedicated men and women of FWC. Surely we all can agree they have more pressing law enforcement duties (enforcing nautical safety laws, apprehending impaired boaters) than asking them to check fishing paperwork.Third, these dire predictions of the Apocalypse if Floridians can fish without being pestered by the government remind me of another immense government program in Florida, now a relic.It used to be a ritual for Floridians to take their vehicles in for the required annual inspection until Gov. Bob Graham persuaded legislators in 1981 to get rid of the program. The entire industry that had grown up around annual vehicle inspections and relied on the associated revenue portended catastrophe and destruction. Well, the Earth is still rotating on its axis inclined at a 23.5 degree angle and no one misses the long lines and inconvenience.We have all become a little too docile in accepting new government encroachments into our daily lives and activities, including even our recreational pursuits. SB 744 is about freedom ? the right to enjoy Florida's beautiful beaches and waterways without first checking in with the state bureaucracy.My view on Florida Senator Joe Negron, you are compltely misguided, and for a man of your stature in the Government, amazingly uninformed. Your bill would result in Florida anglers having to purchase a FEDERAL license, due to Magnuson Stevens and Wallop Breaux acts, and the fee that we now pay would be divvied up by the 50 states. We would also lose Federal matching dollars.The license system has been around for 100 years and started by anglers.Hardly new and hardly encrouching as Mr. Negron puts it. If we want to get technical about it he's the one encrouching.The recreational fishing community was not looking for a end to to license system in Florida."I can tell you that people benefit when the Legislature reviews every budget line item every year rather than setting up perpetual fee-based annuities that escape oversight." - Joe Negron. Sorry Mr. Negron you'll have to find some other program to shelter the money for your own political intrests. Us anglers like the fact our money goes where we invested it and not into a polticians hand/back pocket or a business group that can degrade our fisheries and work against recreational groups.Having a license system gives us a voice in our state & federal Government. Don't try to take it away.How do you feel about this proposal? Is your state the next one on the list?Good Bless and Good Fishing!Capt Todd Kersey"Florida the Bass Fishing Capital of the World"www.bassonline.com"Always One Click Away"