BRUNSWICK — Effective immediately, anglers who possess a valid Georgia fishing license will not have to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry, a new program of the NOAA Fisheries Service, and pay the $15 annual fee.
The National Saltwater Angler Registry is part of a major initiative to improve how the NOAA Fisheries Service gathers, analyzes, and reports saltwater recreational fishing data. Twenty-two of the nation’s 24 coastal states have saltwater angler registries or licensing programs and have been exempted from the federal requirement because they will be providing saltwater angler contact information to the National Saltwater Angler Registry.
“I was fortunate to be a member of the National Saltwater Angler Registry Team working with other government and fishing community representatives to craft an implementation plan. State representatives like myself were united in asking NOAA to consider granting exemptions to anglers licensed by their states to fish in saltwater. I’m pleased that Georgia was successful in its bid to get exempted status,” said Spud Woodward, director of the Coastal Resources Division of Georgia DNR.
The National Saltwater Angler Registry helps NOAA and agencies like Georgia DNR to gauge the health of saltwater fisheries that contribute billions annually to the U.S. economy. Congress created the registry through the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006 in an effort to improve surveys of saltwater fishermen. Better angler survey data will lead to better assessments of fish population health and more accurate estimates of fishing effort.
“Georgia DNR has always recognized the value of accurate angler survey data. That’s the reason that we have partnered with NOAA for almost two decades to conduct saltwater angler and fishing guide surveys. Thanks to increased use of cell phones, caller ID, and other changes in how people communicate, it has become more difficult to contact anglers by randomly calling households. The National Saltwater Angler Registry will create a saltwater angler telephone book allowing surveyors to directly contact anglers, greatly improving the cost effectiveness and validity of surveys,” Woodward said.
In addition to state licensed anglers, individuals who are under 16 or otherwise not required to have a Georgia fishing license are not required to register. Also exempt are individuals who fish on federally permitted charter, party or guide boats; hold a federal highly migratory species angling permit; or are fishing commercially under a valid license.
For more information about the National Saltwater Angler Registry and other efforts to improve saltwater angler surveys, go to www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov.