Public Meeting July 16 on National Saltwater Angler Registry

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Fish and Game Biologist Matt Carpenter and his wife Stacy with her first "schoolie" striped bass caught near durham point in the Little Bay while drifting a live pollock.DURHAM, N.H. — A new national saltwater angler registry will go into effect on January 1, 2009.  To help inform saltwater anglers in New Hampshire about the upcoming change, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will sponsor a public informational meeting about the national registry on July 16, 2008, at 6:30 p.m. at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, in Portsmouth, N.H. Gordon Colvin of NOAA Fisheries will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about the new registry. The public is encouraged to attend.

The national registry of saltwater anglers is the key to closing a major gap in information on recreational fishing, improving the efficiency and accuracy of surveys. It will also help NOAA demonstrate the economic value of saltwater recreational fishing on local and national economies and allow the agency to get a more accurate picture of the level of participation by the American public in saltwater fishing.

NOAA Fisheries has released a proposed rule on the National Saltwater Angler Registry, a requirement of the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act and an important component of the broader initiative to improve the quality of recreational fishing data.

Beginning in January 2009, recreational anglers who fish in federal waters are required to be registered each year with NOAA Fisheries. The proposed rule also requires registration by those who may catch anadromous species such as salmon, striped bass, smelt, and shad that spawn in rivers and streams and spend their adult lives in estuaries and the ocean. Registration will be free for the first two years.

The proposed rule outlines the process NOAA Fisheries will use for registering saltwater recreational anglers. It also addresses the qualifications and procedures for exempting states and their anglers from the federal registration requirement.

Anglers may be exempt from federal registration if they fish in a state that already has a program in place to account for all of its saltwater anglers. The proposed rule outlines possible exemptions for states that have a comprehensive saltwater fishing license or a regional angler survey program approved by NOAA Fisheries. In addition, anglers fishing from licensed for-hire vessels and anglers under the age of 16 are also exempt.

For more information about the registry, to view a copy of the proposed federal rule, or to provide formal comments to NOAA Fisheries concerning the proposed rule, visit

For additional information concerning the public meeting in Portsmouth, contact N.H. Fish and Game’s Region 3 office at 603-868-1095.

Frequently Asked Questions about the National Saltwater Angler Registry:

  • Who will have to register?  All anglers and spear fishermen who fish in federal waters (3-200 miles from shore) and anglers and spear fishermen who may catch anadromous fish (such as striped bass, shad, salmon, smelt) in any tidal waters. Also for-hire vessel operators who are not already federally or state licensed.
  • Who will NOT have to register? 
    The proposed rules would exempt the following people from registering:

    • Children under the age of 16.
    • Persons angling from a licensed for-hire vessel (party and charter boats).
    • Persons with a valid saltwater fishing license from a state that collects and provides the required registry information to NOAA Fisheries.
    • Other minor exemptions (see the proposed rules).
  • Will it cost anything to register?  Initially, the registration will be free, but the federal law allows a fee to be charged, beginning in 2011,which is estimated to be $15-$25.
  • How will you be able to register?  Either at a website or via a toll-free number.
  • What information will you need to provide?  The proposed rules call for individuals to submit their: name; address; phone number; and region of the country they intend to fish. The information would remain confidential and used only for the purpose of gathering information on recreational saltwater fishing trips.
  • When do I have to register? It is important that all saltwater anglers be aware of the new requirement to register beginning in January 2009.
  • Some states have a saltwater fishing license; will anglers in those states still have to register? Having a resident saltwater fishing license from a state that collects and provides the required registry information to NOAA Fisheries would exempt an angler from having to register, because their state would automatically take care of that with the information provided for the license. 
  • Is there a plan for New Hampshire to have a state saltwater license, so that registry fees paid by anglers would go the state instead of to the federal government?  A proposal for a saltwater license is currently under consideration in a study committee at the State Legislature.

NOAA Fisheries, N.H. Fish and Game, and other state marine resource agencies will be working hard in the coming months to get the word out about the new registry.  The public is encouraged to attend the informational meeting on July 16 in Portsmouth and to visit the NOAA Fisheries website and get the facts.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.  Find out more about Fish and Game’s role in conserving and managing marine resources at