New law enables Pa. Fish and Boat Commission to experiment with license packages
December 23, 2012 5:00 AM
A timely stocking stuffer for the angler in the family. Multi-year fishing licenses went on sale for the first time this month.
By Shannon M. Nass Special to the Post-Gazette
It's something John Arway, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), said he hopes more Pennsylvania anglers will soon be saying thanks to the June 22 passage of state Senate Bill 1049. The new law gives the agency the legal authority to sell multi-year fishing licenses and permits, and to develop other creative license packages.
For the first time, three- and five-year fishing licenses were made available effective Dec. 1.
"A lot of anglers come and go from the sport," said Arway. "What we're trying to do with this multi-year initiative is to get them committed to fishing every year, because we all know what good therapy fishing really is. We believe it's a sport a lot of people should try and if they like it, they ought to continue it."
Customers who buy multi-year licenses save money by not having to pay transaction and processing fees each year, which amounts to $6.80 for those who purchase a five-year license. Anglers can experience similar savings purchasing multi-year trout-salmon, Lake Erie and trout-salmon and Lake Erie combo permits.
Arway, who is among the 8 to 10 percent of anglers who regularly purchase licenses for five consecutive years, said it's a no-brainer.
"You make one purchase and then you're good to go for five years. You don't have to worry about it again," he said.
For those who typically do not buy licenses in consecutive years, PFBC is offering incentives for purchasing a multi-year license such as a free online subscription to the agency's flagship publication, Pennsylvania Angler and Boater magazine, fishing equipment, discount coupons for sporting goods stores, and various offers from popular retailers. To receive the premiums following the purchase of a multi-year license, anglers must update their license account info and visit www.gonefishingpa.com for details.
Also, PFBC has launched a fishing sweepstakes contest that will give away a series of Pennsylvania fishing trips for many of the state's popular game fish.
To sweeten the deal even more by the time trout season comes around, which is the peak license sale period, Arway said Fish and Boat will offer gift cards to Bass Pro Shops.
Anglers who get a jump on the season and purchase their licenses early will be eligible for additional offers.
Revenue generated from multi-year license sales will be placed in a "reserve fund," which Arway equated to a savings account with the interest earned used to pay for other marketing initiatives to promote fishing and boating in the state.
On average, PFBC sells 800,000 to 850,000 fishing licenses each year. Up 4 percent from 2011, this year's sales peaked early due to good weather, said Arway.
Multi-year licenses are the first in a number of creative licensing packages intended to translate into increased license sales. One idea under consideration is a legacy license, which Arway described as a lifetime membership whereby people can purchase or will their children or grandchildren a license to fish in Pennsylvania for a lifetime.
"As a grandparent, that gives me some security to know that there won't be any obstacles if my grandchildren or children want to go fishing," he said.
Fish and Boat is also considering offering a discounted family license for parents and their children, and other incentives to further encourage families to go fishing, Arway said in spring 2013 PFBC will launch a mentored youth pilot program that follows the model of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's mentored youth hunts. The program enables registered children under the age of 16 to fish for trout with an adult mentor who must have a current fishing license and trout permit. The mentored kids would be eligible to fish on the Saturday before the southeast region trout opener season on select waters within the 18-county area.
Arway said it's all about catching fish, so in preparation the agency plans high-intensity stockings of those select waters, which are expected to be finalized by early January. If successful, the mentored youth fishing program will be rolled out in other parts of the state, as well.
With the passage of SB 1049 and the introduction of multi-year licenses under the agency's belt, Arway said anglers can expect to see more creative marketing ideas in the near future.
"Talk to your family and friends about getting an interest in fishing because we're going to try to make it as easy as we can to get them involved," he said.
Multi-year fishing licenses can be purchased at more than 900 issuing agents, county treasurers' offices, and at select PFBC regional offices. For more information, visit www.fishandboat.com.