The cost of fishing and boating in Pa. could go up next year

Written by on June 22, 2022

The cost of fishing and boating in Pa. could go up next year

By Megan Frank
June 22, 2022

Annual fishing licenses and trout stamps would each go up $2.50. (Photo | Pixabay)

For the first time in 17 years, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is considering increasing the cost of fishing licenses. It’s also looking at raising boating fees.

Under the proposal, the annual resident fishing license fee would go up to $23.50 a year and the cost of a trout stamp would go up to $10.50. 

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The biggest hike proposed is the cost of a senior lifetime license, which would jump $25, to $75.

Boat-related fees, which PFBC says haven’t gone up since the 1980s and 1990s, would increase in various increments for things like a title, license or permit. 

Some of the proposed boat-related fee increases include: 

  • Certificate of title: $15 to $58 
  • Duplicate title: $15 to $58
  • Operator license for passenger-carrying boats: $5 to $50
  • Commercial fishing license: $80 to $100

Mike Parker, communications director for PFBC, said it’s inflation from the past few decades, not just the past year, that’s driving up costs.

“Revenues have been fairly flat,” Parker said. “So, we’ve got the same amount of funding, yet the cost of everything continues to go up.” 

The agency’s revenue went up during the pandemic when a lot of people picked up a fishing or boating hobby, he said, but those numbers have since dropped off and that’s what made the price increases necessary.

Parker added that the agency intends to keep price increases to a minimum.

“Instead of having these large increases every 10 years and then it’s sticker shock, wouldn’t it make more sense if your fishing license just went up 50 cents every year, or maybe another year it didn’t go up at all,” said Parker.

Mike Dlugos, owner of Mike’s Bait & Sport Shop in Nazareth, said most anglers will be OK with prices rising.

“You got fishermen that, God, they’re in here every week, 52 weeks a year.  The true fishermen, the diehards, I don’t think they care at all,” said Dlugos.  

The people who will be negatively impacted, Dlugos said, are those who don’t get a lot of mileage out of the license each year, which is especially true if they’re getting both the fishing license and the trout stamp at the increased rate. 

He cited as an example a license with a trout stamp at $32.97: “That’s for a whole year of enjoyment.  But if you’re just going one weekend and you buy one for you, one for your wife, one for your kid, then yeah, that’s a big deal.”

Money paid for a fishing license goes toward stocking fish and maintenance of the state’s 14 hatcheries, eight of which raise more than three million trout each year, Parker said. The money also goes toward projects that improve stream banks and fish habitats. 

PFBC has only been allowed to raise its own fees since 2020.  Act 56 gave the agency temporary authority to set its own fees but before that PFBC had to wait on lawmakers to vote on and approve any price increases.  

The proposed price changes already have preliminary approval by the PFBC advisory board. 

Before the final decision is made, the public will be able to comment at a meeting slated to be held in July. The date for that has not yet been announced. 

If approved, the changes would take effect next year.  PFBC says the increases would bring in an estimated $2.65 million annually for the agency.

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