From the Boathouse: Wishing for a cheap fishing license


In my last column (“Cost of California fishing is prohibitive,” From the Boathouse, April 3), I mentioned that fishing off of California’s coast is very popular. However, now I have received some bad news about fishing’s popularity in the Golden State.

The California Sportfishing League has release a new study titled, “Are Costs, Lack of Value Contributing Factors to an Unprecedented Decline of Recreational Fishing in California?” The study reviewed a state-by-state analysis of the value of an annual fishing license. The study found that annual fishing license sales are down about 55% since 1980 in California.

This is an alarming percentage, considering that the state’s population has increased in this time frame. The cost and expiration dates may be to blame, along with the Marine Protected Areas off of our coastline restricting approximately 800 squares miles.

Cost can be a major factor with other activities competing with the recreational dollar. The study notes that California is 66% costlier when compared to the average price for a fishing license in other coastal states.

“Since 1980, when annual licenses were sold for as little as $5, California’s annual fishing license sales have dropped by more than 55% ... while our state’s population has increased by nearly 60%,” the study noted. “In 2014, 40,000 fewer annual fishing licenses were sold compared to 2013.”

“In 1980, California’s annual fishing license fee was a mere $5,” another portion read. “Today, California’s annual resident fishing license is the second-highest in the country, at $47.01 for a base ‘annual’ license, excluding permits and stamps that a substantial number of anglers are required to purchase throughout the year.”

The base price for a license is $47.01 for a resident and $126.36 for a nonresident. But wait — there is more, just like a late-night TV commercial might say. The additional extra costs can include the $5.14 ocean enhancement stamp in waters south of Point Arguello, or $14.61 second rod validation for inland waters. Then we have the five different report card costs for abalone, sturgeon, North Coast salmon, steelhead and spiny lobster, ranging from $6.22 to $22.42.

Beyond cost, the study pointed out that the way California defines “annual permit” is also a barrier. Fishing permits are issued on a calendar-year basis, according to the study. If a California angler purchases an annual permit on Jan. 1, 2015, it will be valid until Dec. 31, 2015. If another angler purchases the same type of permit on Dec. 30, 2015, it will expire the next day.

Other states have switched to a 12-month expiration date from the purchase date. The Dec. 31 expiration increases the cost of the license when prorated over 12 months and is a disincentive to purchase a license if it is going to expire in a few months.

We need to keep this favorite national activity affordable for everyone, and keep in mind that the fishing industry is worth $4.9 billion to the economy in California.


News of the week: Five boats have completed the approximately 23,000-nautical-mile around-the-world Barcelona World Race. Remember, I have been mentioning this race that began and is finishing in Barcelona, Spain. Eight boats, with only two crew onboard, started on Dec. 31, and the first boat finished on March 25.

Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam, team Cheminees Poujoulat, took the top honors, finishing after 84 days, five hours, 50 minutes and 25 seconds. Not sure if we need to use seconds for an almost three-month race?

Then team Neutrogena with Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz finished second on March 30 after 89 days, 11 hours, 47 minutes and zero seconds. Additionally, GAES Centro Auditivos finished in third place on April Fool’s Day; then, One Planet, One Ocean/Pharmaton finished fourth on April 8, and We Are Water is the latest boat to cross the finish line in fifth place on April 9.

This leaves two remaining boats on the water still heading for the finish line. The nearest boat to the line is 297 nmiles away, and the one bringing up the rear is 1,118 nmiles from crossing the finish line. You might remember that Hugo Boss had to drop out of the race due to equipment problems.

As always, just keep an eye to the weather for any changes. Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.

The original boating program, “Boathouse TV & Radio Shows,” has stretched from coast to coast for more than two decades. See the details at, and

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to