Tuesday, June 18, 2024

New law requires recreational fishing license for freshwater smelt, crawfish, and carp

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OLYMPIA - Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation requiring Washington fishers to possess a recreational fishing license for freshwater smelt, crawfish, and carp. The new law, which goes into effect on June 6, removes the fishing license exemption for each species.

The license requirement is aimed at improving compliance with fishing regulations and providing information on appropriate gear, seasons, and species-specific limits, especially in areas where fish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or state Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) are present.

"As Washington's population grows and recreational fishing activity increases, we often feel the strain on our natural resources," said Kelly Cunningham, Fish Program Director with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "A fishing license requirement can help promote sustainable fishing practices while safeguarding endangered species."

A Washington fishing or shellfishing license will be required to fish for freshwater smelt and crawfish. Carp fishing will also require a license, except for Moses Lake and Vancouver Lake, where it remains exempt. Temporary licenses are valid, and current fishing or shellfishing licenses will remain valid without any increased costs. Youth under the age of 15 are not required to have a fishing license.

The license requirement serves multiple purposes, including aiding in the regulation and monitoring of ESA-listed eulachon, also known as Columbia River smelt; increasing compliance with rules regarding the retention of native and non-native crawfish; and helping enforce regulations against illegal fishing for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead in overlapping fisheries involving carp.

More information about the need for this license requirement as it relates to each species can be found on the WDFW's smelt, crawfish, and carp webpages. Additional details will be available in the 2024-2025 annual fishing pamphlet after June 30.

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