AUGUSTA — The long-debated issue of saltwater fishing licenses in Maine is close to a resolution.

The House and Senate gave final approval today to a bill that creates a saltwater recreational fishing registry run by the state. Those registering would pay $1 or $2 agency fees.

Striped bass endorsements will cost $5 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. Fees for commercial operator’s licenses, including charters and smelt camps, would be $50.

Opponents said they objected to the government taking away the tradition of free fishing in saltwater. But supporters said states must play a role in managing ocean fisheries.

The law would become effective Jan. 1, 2011. States must set up registries this year or face having a federal registry with fees next year.

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