Starting Jan. 1, 2010, Maryland Anglers will need to register with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before fishing. Anglers can register for free online or by calling a toll-free phone number.
This requirement is an essential part of a national commitment to effectively manage saltwater fish populations. The registry will allow fishermen and policy makers to work together to assess the contributions and impacts of saltwater anglers on ocean ecosystems, coastal economies and fish populations. Since the requirement includes anyone who may catch an anadromous species (fish that travel between salt and fresh waters), anyone fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and coastal waters, must be registered.
“According to a recent NOAA Fisheries Survey, saltwater anglers had an overall economic impact of $82 billion and generated more than half a million jobs nationwide,” said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service Director Tom O’Connell. “It’s only appropriate that recreational anglers be counted and thereby have a substantial impact on the management and health of coastal fish stocks.”
This initiative, known as the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), is designed to produce accurate information that will help determine the condition of fish stocks. This data will allow anglers, fisheries managers and others to effectively and fairly set strategies for ensuring the long-term sustainability of recreational fishing in salt waters.
DNR expects at the beginning of fishing in 2011, the Maryland fishing license will accommodate the requirements for the National Saltwater Registry. But, for 2010, anglers must all register directly with NOAA.
Anglers who do not need to register are those under 16 years old, anglers fishing on a charter boat, commercial fishermen at work, anglers holding highly migratory species permits, and anglers who hold a saltwater license from a state where they are automatically registered. Anglers fishing in one of Maryland’s Free Fishing areas or who are otherwise exempt from buying a Maryland fishing license still need to register with NOAA.
The process is simple and free of charge. On or after January 1, go online to www.countmyfish.noaa.gov or call 1-888-MRIP-411 (888-674-7411).