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New Fishing Stamp Triggers Need To Revamp Licenses
AUSTIN, Texas The creation of a new freshwater fishing stamp by the last Texas Legislature was designed to defray costs of fish hatchery construction and repair, but it also created an opportunity for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to revamp its licensing structure to better serve anglers’ needs.
Agency officials have been wrestling with ways to incorporate the new stamp into the mix of existing fishing and hunting licenses while maintaining a “user pay, user benefit” philosophy of not charging customers for services they don’t utilize. A set of proposed changes were unveiled Jan. 28 to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s Finance Committee that include new license options and revisions to existing licenses. The recommendations will be up for public comment and the Commission is expected to make a final decision at its April 8 meeting. Any changes would take effect Sept. 1.
The freshwater fishing stamp carries a $5 price tag and is expected to generate about $4.5 million annually. The temporary stamp would be required to fish in Texas fresh water beginning this fall for the next 10 years. TPWD plans to earmark a portion of the revenue from the stamp toward relocation of the aging Jasper Fish Hatchery. By statute, revenue from the stamp can only be used for the purchase of game fish for stocking in public waters such as the state’s winter trout stocking program. Another provision of the law eliminates the freshwater trout stamp and the special muzzleloader stamp.
According to the new proposed licensing structure, anglers could choose from several fishing packages: a freshwater fishing license ($28 for residents, $55 for non-residents), a saltwater fishing license ($33 for residents, $60 for non-residents) or an all water fishing license good for both fresh and saltwater ($38 for residents, $65 for non-residents). All packages come with the appropriate required stamps.
Similar license packages would also be available in conjunction with hunting licenses, including a freshwater combo ($47 for residents, and $15 for seniors), a saltwater combo ($52 for residents, $20 for seniors) and all water combo ($57 for residents, $25 for seniors). The popular super combo, “one stop shop” license package would incur just the additional cost of the freshwater stamp ($64), as would the senior super combo ($30).
TPWD is also recommending changes in temporary fishing licenses, eliminating the 3-day resident, the 5-day non-resident and the 14-day temporary and replacing them with a 1-day temporary with an option to buy additional daily privileges at the time of purchase. A 1-day resident license would sell for $13 for freshwater, $18 for saltwater and $23 for all water privileges. Non-residents could purchase a 1-day license for freshwater for $20, for saltwater ($25) or for all water ($30). Residents could purchase subsequent days for $2 each and non-residents for $5 each.
TPWD is proposing a summer’s end license valid for the months of July and August. The freshwater version would cost $25; while the saltwater would run $30 and an all-water license $35.
The agency is also considering for convenience sake a “year-to-date,” all water fishing license valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Currently, all licenses expire each year on Aug. 31. The proposed cost of this license option would be $45 and available to Texas residents only.
Comments on the proposed license changes can be made in person at public hearings to be scheduled across the state, in writing to Gene McCarty, TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744 or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject: Proposed Fishing License Changes).
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