Usually I begin the first saltwater column of the season with updates on any regulations enacted since last year, and because of some confusion about the federal and state registries, I would like to try to clarify matters.

First, anyone recreationally fishing in saltwater in Maine this year should check to see whether they must register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry.

This can be done online at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/ or by calling 1-888-674-7411. Registering is free in 2010, and it is a painless process that only takes a couple of minutes.

Second, earlier this year Gov. Baldacci signed into law “An Act to Create a Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry.” This will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011. Here are the basics of what the Legislature passed:

Anyone (Maine resident or nonresident) who wishes to fish recreationally in saltwater needs to register in Maine. However, everyone can register to fish for all species, except striped bass, for free. Note that an agent fee of $1 or $2 may apply, depending on where an individual registers — online, with an appointed agent or directly through Department of Marine Resources licensing.

Maine residents who purchase a freshwater fishing license will have the option of checking off a box indicating that they intend to fish in saltwater and for striped bass without having to pay a registry fee.

Maine residents who do not purchase a freshwater fishing license who wish to fish for or catch striped bass will need to purchase the striped bass endorsement for $5.

Nonresidents who wish to fish for striped bass will need to purchase the striped bass endorsement for $15.

Residents age 70 or older can buy a striped bass endorsement for $10, which they may annually renew free of charge.

Operators of commercial saltwater recreational fishing businesses (head boats, charter boats, smelt camps) will purchase the commercial operator license for $50.

A member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians or the Aroostook Band of Micmacs may register to fish for striped bass without a fee.

All revenues collected from the sale of striped bass endorsements and commercial operator licenses will be deposited in the Marine Recreational Fishing Conservation and Management Fund for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the saltwater recreational fishing registry.

EXEMPTIONS

The following individuals are exempted from providing information to the saltwater registry:

Individuals under the age of 16.

Passengers on board vessels captained by an individual who holds a commercial operator’s permit.

Persons renting a smelt camp from an individual who holds a commercial operator’s permit.

A person with a disability.

A disabled veteran.

A person with a valid New Hampshire saltwater recreational fishing license, fishing up to Cape Neddick.

A Maine resident fishing on the Fourth of July, Memorial Day weekend or Labor Day weekend.

The bottom line is that for 2010 an angler may need to register with the feds and beginning Jan. 1, 2011, most will need to register with the state.

If you would like to receive periodic updates on what is going on with the state registry as well as other saltwater recreational news, sign up at www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational/registry/contactform.htm.

 

This saltwater report is compiled by Bruce Joule, Maine Department of Marine Resources, P.O. Box 8, West Boothbay Harbor 04575. If you have information to report please contact him at 633-9505 or e-mail:

[email protected]