Why It Matters: For over 85 years, sportsmen and women have played a crucial role in funding conservation efforts in the United States through the American System of Conservation Funding. They have risen to the occasion in financially supporting their respective state fish and wildlife agencies, and on occasion, agreeing to license fee increases that match current market conditions. In Pennsylvania, this is one such case. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has long advocated for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s (PFBC) ability to set license, permit, and tag fees – something that was provided through House Bill 808 in 2020 – and this proposed rulemaking is one of the final opportunities for the PFBC to continue to have this authority before the law expires in 2024.
- On May 11, CSF submitted a letter of support to the PFBC regarding a rulemaking proposal that would increase the fishing license fees to financially support the services offered by the Commission.
- The PFBC Board held a meeting on May 17, wherein it voted favorably on the rulemaking, sending it to the House and Senate Game and Fisheries Committees for consideration.
- If implemented, some of the license fee increases would include: resident annual increasing by $2.50 for a total of $26; nonresident annual increasing by $4 for a total of $59; senior resident annual increasing by $1.25 for a total of $12.50; and senior resident lifetime increasing by $10 for a total of $85.
On May 11, CSF submitted public comment in support of the PFBC’s proposed rulemaking under 58 Pa. Code § 63.57 regarding fishing license fees. This rulemaking would implement minor increases to Pennsylvania fishing licenses for the 2024 season, but the result would have some not-so-minor benefits to the PFBC’s bottom line. Six days after CSF’s letter submission, the PFBC Board voted favorably on the proposed rule, sending it to the House and Senate Game and Fisheries Committees for review and possible approval.
The financial impact that these fee increases would have on the PFBC’s funding cannot be overstated. The rulemaking proposal states that “If new revenues are not in place for the 2024 license year, the Commission will not be able to maintain adequate levels of services to this Commonwealth’s anglers, let alone respond to anglers’ desires for expanded efforts in many program areas.” Relatedly, in the PFBC’s press release, it explained that “Revenues from these fee adjustments are expected to generate an estimated $2.4 to $2.9 million annually for the PFBC’s Fish Fund to support fishing related programs.” CSF provided support for fishing license fee increases in the Keystone State last year – a staggered approach taken by the PFBC following 2020 legislation (co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus members and signed by former Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus leader Governor Tom Wolf) that granted the PFBC the regulatory authority to set license, permit, and tag fees. However, the Commission can only raise fishing license fees until 2025, when the authorizing legislation sunsets.
“The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission thanks CSF for the help and support it received for this important regulatory proposal,” stated Bob Caccese, Director of Policy, Planning and Communications for the PFBC. CSF will continue to support bolstering funding for state fish and wildlife agencies through rational increases on license fees where they are shown to be needed.