The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has found what it hopes is the answer to stopping the high turnover rate of license buyers.
During its meeting last week in Pittsburgh, the PFBC board approved final implementation of multi-year fishing licenses and trout stamps. The new concept, which became an option after a new law giving the PFBC such authority took effect this summer, begins on Dec. 1, and allows anglers the option of buying a three- or five-year license.
The move offers anglers convenience and a savings of $3.40 for a three-year license and $6.80 for a five-year license. It also allows the agency to realize greater consistency with its license sales, possibly leading to more reimbursement from the federal government.
Norm Gavlick, who represents the Northeast Region on the board, said there is also a possibility of offering a five-year boat registration as well.
"Right now, our revenues fluctuate drastically every year with license sales," he said. "With this program, we know we have those anglers for at least three years, and that will help with the reimbursement from the federal government, which is based on license sales."
Money from the second through fifth years of a multi-year license purchase will be deposited into a separate bank account to cover costs over the course of those years, Gavlick said.
Under the new law, the PFBC has the authority to alter its license structure but it can't raise license fees. Gavlick said the board will consider other licensing options next year, such as family and vacation packages.
"There is a whole range of things we can do within the current license fee structure to encourage people to buy fishing licenses," Gavlick said.
The board also approved a motion to eliminate the Early Season Trout-Stocked Waters Program, which stocked certain waterways and opened them to trout fishing from March 1-31. Those waters that were in the program will now be regulated as Approved Trout Waters Open to Year-Round Fishing.
Local waterways affected by the change include Lily Lake, Moon Lake, Lake Took-a-While and Lake Irena. Gavlick said the move was made to allow anglers to fish for other species, such as bass and panfish, prior to the start of trout season.