A Golden Ticket for Senior Anglers

February 13, 2015

Hartford, CT – State Senator Tony Guglielmo (R-Stafford) testified in support of a new proposal to allow residents age 65 years and older to have permanent fishing licenses and avoid the annual renewal. The bill is entitled; AN ACT PROVIDING PERSONS AGE SIXTY-FIVE OR OLDER WITH PERMANENT FISHING LICENSES was heard before the Environment Committee of the General Assembly this week in Hartford.

“I represent a region that covers the Natchaug River which is also a trout park in Eastford. In my district, we have many seniors who love to fish,” said Sen. Guglielmo.

The bill would authorize permanent fishing licenses for persons 65 and older rather than requiring an annual application for such a license.

Guglielmo told the committee, “The idea before you would ease burdens on seniors and help them to continue to fish here in Connecticut during their retirement years. With all the costs we put on Connecticut seniors, isn’t it time we looked for ways to make their lives easier so that they can enjoy their golden years with their children and grandchildren?”

According to testimony from the Department of Energy and Environment officials providing permanent fishing licenses to seniors is a problem. In their argument DEEP officials stated, “We believe that any minor inconvenience for anglers, including those over age 65, to renew those licenses they intend to use in the current year is quite small. Without such a requirement for seniors, the agency would be compelled to conduct costly extensive surveys of senior sportsmen to determine their activity status. Further, such a survey would likely prove a greater imposition on a senior’s time than simply renewing their license at their convenience.”

The current electronic licensing system, provided by an outside vendor, was designed and programmed to manage licenses/permits on an annual (calendar year) basis. Some opponents of the bill say managing extended licenses (valid for multiple years) for a relatively large block of license holders would require extensive manual reentry by staff, or reprogramming of the system, both at significant cost to the state.

However those from “Save the Sound” – an environmental advocacy group say that is not true. Tyler Archer from the Fisheries Program testified that paperwork is the real problem, “Even with the Online Sportsmen Licensing system, organizing materials for the more than 100,000 Connecticut fishers is time consuming. Allowing those over 65 to obtain a permanent license in one transaction will help reduce this load. Additionally, inland and marine fishing licenses are free for senior citizens, so the main goal here is to reduce the amount of paperwork.”

His group also points out that lifetime fishing licenses will not cause a decline in Connecticut’s funding for conservation efforts from the federal government. The Sport Fishing Restoration Act (Dingell-Johnson Act, 1950) provides conservation funds according to a state’s land and water acreage and number of licensed fishers.

Because more than thirty other states offer lifetime licenses in some form, US Fish & Wildlife Service already calculate them into those states’ number, a calculation based on life expectancy. Connecticut receives about $3.5 million annually from the Dingell-Johnson Act program. DEEP, for its own calculations, could just as easily mirror what US FWS already does.

Interestingly, Connecticut offered this very program until October 1, 2009. Returning to lifetime licenses would benefit all.