SHREVEPORT (AP) — Fishing license numbers continue to increase overall in Louisiana, although figures show the fishing population may be aging. Without young anglers on Louisiana lakes and bayous, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is concerned that projects that rely on license fees for funding could one day be at risk.
The number of anglers 60 years or older increased every year between 2000 and 2014. Just 3,351 anglers in that age group purchased a license in 2000, but 104,352 did so in 2014. That’s an increase of about 3,014 percent.
Meanwhile, 494,367 Louisiana residents under 60 purchased a basic license in 2000, compared with 432,712 in 2014 — a 12.5 percent decrease.
The LDWF says it has not yet felt the effects of the apparent aging of anglers, but could be in the future if senior license purchases, which are at a lower fee ($5), continue to replace those paying the full license fee of $9.50. Income from the sales of licenses help fund a number of LDWF projects statewide.
“The revenue generated by recreational fishing licenses is deposited in the Conservation Fund, which is utilized by all of LDWF for operations, such as enforcement, fisheries monitoring and wildlife management,” Bo Boehringer, LDWF public information director. “The Conservation Fund contains revenue from recreational license sales (both fishing and hunting), commercial license sales, boat registration fees, oil and gas revenue from LDWF properties and interest.”
The LDWF has taken steps to bring younger anglers into the fold.
“Understanding that lifelong outdoorsmen and women eventually age out of active participation, the department has worked for many years to provide aquatic education and hunter education opportunities to recruit younger participants,” said Boehringer. “The fisheries outreach section provides Family Fish Fest opportunities during spring and summer months, the Fishing in the Schools Program and the Community Fishing Program for those who want to participate in outdoor opportunities.”
Seniors can purchase a Louisiana hunting and fishing combo license for $5 per year, while a fishing license alone for those under 60 is $9.50 annually. With 543,175 residents purchasing a license in 2014, compared to 498,390 in 2000, the drop in revenue doesn’t appear significant.
“The license sales numbers continue to provide the revenue needed to accomplish the department’s mission and we will build on those numbers through ongoing efforts to bring more participants to the outdoors,” Boehringer said.
Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com