Saltwater fishing license on hold until bill gets OK

Saturday, June 13, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

The new requirement for a marine fishing license will not go into effect unless Gov. M. Jodi Rell signs the legislation creating the license.

According to the legislation, House Bill 5875, people would need a license for fishing in coastal waters starting Monday. But the bill has not yet reached Rell’s desk, according to her office.

If Rell does not sign the legislation prior to its effective date of Monday, it would go into effect as soon as she approves it, said Dennis Schain, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

“The bill did say an effective date of June 15, but it does not become law until the governor signs it,” he said. “So there’s no requirement right now and probably not Monday or early next week to have a marine fishing license.”

The state Senate unanimously approved the bill June 3, following approval by the House of Representatives in May.

The legislation, which also deals with water quality, establishes a license for saltwater fishing that includes a fee of $10 for residents and $15 for out-of-state residents. The bill applies to people 16 years and older; those older than 65 do not have to pay the fee.

State fishermen have had to obtain a license for freshwater fishing for years, but have traditionally been able to cast a line in Long Island Sound for free. The new requirement comes about because of a federal marine fishing registry is set to go into effect Jan. 1. By creating its own saltwater registry system, Connecticut will be able to keep the fees associated with the license.

Schain said that the license was available for purchase through the DEP’s online system, but the feature has been deactivated pending the passage of the legislation.

If Rell did veto the bill, the DEP would refund fees for any licenses people have already purchased, he said.

“We know that the system can handle this new license and will be ready to get it up and running if we get the green light from the governor,” he said.

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