August 1, 2022

CSF Supports Necessary Fee Increases for Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Contact: Joe Mullin, Northeastern States Manager

Why it Matters: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) ability to balance its books and remain financially solvent hinges on its ability to implement sporting license fees that are consistent with inflation and account for the many variables that have changed since its last license fee increase more than 15 years ago. According to the PFBC, “While the revenue derived from license and permit fees paid by anglers has remained stagnant, costs have not. Annual Fish Fund expenditures have increased from $34.5 million in FY 2005 to $41.6 million in FY 2020.” In 2020, legislation driven by the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus granted the PFBC with the ability to set license fees through the normal regulatory process.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) convened on July 16 for a public hearing on a regulatory package that related to Commission fees relative to fishing licenses (48A-334) and boating title, license, and permit fees (48A-335). CSF submitted a letter of support and signed onto a partner letter expressing favor for the regulatory package. The comment period for these proposals will remain open until August 15.

Relative to the fishing license fee increases, the PFBC stated that between 2005-2021, “fishing license and permit fee revenues have remained relatively flat at about $25 million per year on average.” Over that same period, the annual expenditures from the Fish Fund have jumped up by roughly 17% to $41.6 million. To put it bluntly, the PFBC stated that if increases are not made immediately, “the Commission will not be able to maintain adequate levels of services to anglers in this Commonwealth, let alone respond to angler desires for expanded efforts in many program areas.”

As for the increases in the boat title, license, and permit fees, the PFBC asserts that they are necessary to “cope with inflationary pressures, maintain and improve existing programs, address and meet anglers and boaters’ needs and bring the price of these items in line with the administrative cost associated with issuing them.” Certain fees relative to boating have not increased in over four decades, highlighting the necessity for making them current.

Roughly two years ago, CSF provided its support for House Bill 808, which provided the PFBC with the regulatory authority to set license, permit, and tag fees. This effort was led by members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and ultimately signed into law by Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Tom Wolf. This made it possible for the PFBC to bring forth the regulatory package that is before us.

For more information on the these rulemaking proposals and others, please visit the PFBC’s website. Additional updates will be provided when they are made available.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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