How CT Spends Marine Fishing License Funds

Daytrip Destination: Norwalk Islands, CT
Norwalk launch ramp.

The following information regarding the expenditure of revenue gathered from CT marine fishing licenses was provided by the Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP).

Since the inception of the saltwater (marine) fishing license in 2010 (the first full year), the number of licensed anglers has increased from 3% to 6% annually with 150,651 marine licenses being issued in 2014. With the vast majority of licenses for marine fishing being purchased as “combo” licenses, authorizing a broad mix of fishing and hunting activities, it is not possible to determine the amount of license revenue derived solely from marine fishing. Revenue from all hunting and fishing licenses, by law, is deposited in the environmental conservation account and used exclusively to support fish and wildlife conservation and management programs.

In the marine district, licensing funds in part support our Enhanced Opportunity Shore Fishing Program, which allows anglers fishing at over 40 sites to harvest scup at 9” (instead of 10”) and summer flounder at 16” (instead of 18”). An angler survey conducted at these sites provides catch and harvest information required to demonstrate to partner states of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that Connecticut is fully compliant with the fishery management plans for these species. Information on angler use of these sites has also proven critical to protecting public access for fishing.

The Bonus Striper Program developed since the marine license was established creates recreational fishing and harvesting opportunity from the previously unused commercial fishery allocation. Approximately 3,000 striped bass tags are issued allowing anglers fishing anywhere in Connecticut waters to harvest a striper between 22” and 28” total length. Almost two-thirds of the tags are made available to anglers through the state licensing system (one tag limit per angler annually) and over 1,000 tags are distributed directly to anglers fishing at Enhanced Opportunity Shore Fishing sites, to Take a Kid/Vet Fishing Programs, and to Riverfront Recapture, an urban fishing park on the Connecticut River in the Hartford area.

The Connecticut Aquatic Resources Education (CARE) program is also partly supported by license revenue, introducing students to fishing, increasing public awareness of aquatic resources, fostering greater knowledge and respect for our state’s natural resources. CARE reached almost 8,000 students in 2014, engaging 1,758 young anglers in summer fishing including in saltwater. DEEP’s Outreach efforts include production of the Saltwater Fishing Resources Map, which anglers can use to find places to fish, launch a boat, buy tackle or charter a boat.

License revenue also supports a suite of marine fishery resource assessment and survey programs, including the Long Island Sound Trawl Survey. Begun 32 years ago, this survey has proven to be among the most reliable monitors of adult size scup, summer flounder, black sea bass and tautog and is used in the stock assessments that support the interstate management programs for all of these species and others. A boat angler survey, estuarine seine survey, American shad/ river herring surveys are all supported in part with license revenue.

In addition to license-generated revenue, state general funds (GF) and federal aid in sportfish restoration (SFR) funds contribute significantly to natural resource management and public access in Connecticut. For example, approximately $450,000 of such funds are invested annually (75% SFR/25% GF) in boat launch maintenance and upgrades.