When the recreational saltwater fishing permit went into effect, many anglers held their breath assuming the money would disappear, never to be seen again. Well, the legislation that was written for the permit was put into practice and now, two years later, we have a fishing pier to lean our rods on and start building memories of the big one that got away. Not bad!
When the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act was reauthorized in 2006, it required that a method for counting recreational catch be incorporated into fisheries management, leading to the mandate for a registry of all recreational anglers. This meant that the federal government would have to generate a list by either (1) creating a federal recreational saltwater fishing license or (2) if states already had a license/permit in place, gather data from those states.
In Massachusetts, MarineFisheries decided to examine the possibility of creating a state permit, thereby keeping the generated funds in the state as opposed to sending to it to the federal government. MarineFisheries organized a group of individuals directly involved in recreational fishing including bait and tackle shop owners, for-hire captains, and members of recreational fishing groups, to assist in writing the language for legislation that would create the Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit.
After the legislation passed and the Governor signed it into law, a five-member, non-governmental Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel was assembled to provide the Director of MarineFisheries with advice on project development and fund allocation. All funds from the Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit are held in a dedicated account. All these funds, by law, must be appropriated for programs that enhance recreational saltwater fishing in the Commonwealth. Moreover, one third of all revenue collected from the permit funds must be spent specifically on improving public access for recreational anglers.
With these funds available, MarineFisheries began working with the Massachusetts Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA), which has historically been building and improving public access points across the state. The Bass River boat launch located in Wilbur Park, Yarmouth has been at the top of FBA’s list of sites in need of improvement. In addition to improvements to the deteriorated boat ramp and parking lot, MarineFisheries contributed money directly from the recreational saltwater fishing permit dedicated fund to construct a new handicap accessible fishing pier.
On August 29, 2012 MarineFisheries Director Paul Diodati, FBA Director Jack Sheppard, Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin, and members of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel joined Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Richard Sullivan, at a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the new pier and boat ramp at Wilbur Park. At this fishing pier many children will likely catch their first scup, black sea bass, or striper. Those with physical limitations will also be able to fish in safety and comfort. This pier and boat ramp will provide people of all ages and abilities the chance to catch “the big one”! The next project will be a fishing pier on Martha’s Vineyard at Oak Bluffs. Keep your eyes open for future public access projects coming throughout the state with funding directly from your permit fees!
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.