Anglers may pay more for Pennsylvania fishing licenses in 2024
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission’s board preliminarily approved raising the cost of fishing licenses Wednesday for the second year in a row.
In a special meeting, the board voted to raise the cost of an annual license in 2024 from $23.50 to $26 and non-resident annual licenses from $55 to $59. Senior resident lifetime licenses are proposed to be raised by $10 to $85.
In addition, the trout permit would increase $2.50 from $10.50 to $13 and trout/Lake Erie permits would go from $16.50 to $19. The overall increase to trout anglers would be $5 more than this year.
Tim Schaeffer, executive director, said the agency will need the extra revenue to continue investing in critical improvements and maintenance efforts for fish hatcheries, hazardous dams, boat launch areas and ramps and other agency-owned facilities.
The money will also help replace its equipment, vehicles and watercraft.
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The agency estimates the new fee increases will provide additional annual revenues of up to $2.9 million. However, the added cost is expected to decrease the overall license sales to anglers by 2% which would be 17,556 licenses and 11,328 trout permits.
"Through these modest fee adjustments, we are keeping pace with the rising costs associated with maintaining vital infrastructure, services, and programs that anglers and boaters deserve and have come to expect,” Robert B.J. Small, president and District 6 commissioner, said.
Anglers are paying a similar increase for their 2023 licenses. The prices for a resident annual fishing license, trout permit and combination trout/Lake Erie permit, each increased by $2.50, marking the first fee increases since 2005.
In 2022, the agency sold a total of 793,663 licenses which is 8% less than 2021’s total of 865,973. License sales account for 67% of the agency’s fish fund revenues.
A public hearing, with a 30-day public comment period, will be scheduled for the public to weigh in on the proposal. The board will vote on the the proposed rates again at a meeting to be scheduled in May. If adopted, the rates would become effective Dec. 1.
In previous years, the state Legislature approved license fee changes. When Act 56 of 2020 was passed, the Legislature delegated the authority to set fees for the agency to the board of commissioners with a sunset date of July 2025. If the general assembly doesn’t approve of what’s proposed, the board can intervene.
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This will be third of five years that the agency can consider raising the rates, and an increase was not warranted the first year.
“We’re going to look at this annually and be responsible for deciding whether or not an increase is necessary,” Small said.
“The intent all along when we got the authority from the Legislature was to simply execute incremental license increases when needed,” Schaeffer told the board.
Trout stockings are underway, and the schedules are available at pafishandboat.com.
“Everybody who’s listening, we welcome you to come along,” Schaeffer said. Youth mentor day for trout is March 25, and the statewide opening day of trout season is April 1.
Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on this website’s homepage under your login name. Follow him on Facebook @whipkeyoutdoors ,Twitter @whipkeyoutdoors and Instagram at whipkeyoutdoors.