PFBC debuts fishing license button

HARRISBURG (AP) – A new fishing license button that clips onto a shirt or cap really is a throwback that John Arway hopes anglers will regard as keepers.

Arway, executive director of the state Fish and Boat Commission, wore one of the new blue and white buttons last month when giving his annual report to lawmakers.

Modeled after licenses sold in Pennsylvania from the 1930s to the 1960s, the buttons went on sale on March 11.

Anglers still have to buy flat licenses, but for $5 more they can buy a button.

Arway said the commission could use the extra money from sales.

Once again this year, the commission couldn’t afford to train a new class of waterways conservation officers.

A looming fiscal crisis caused the commission’s board to schedule a vote in July 2015 to close two trout hatcheries if new revenue doesn’t arrive before then.

Federal excise taxes on sales of fishing gear, boats and other sporting supplies returned $7.6 million to the Pennsylvania Fish Fund and Boat Fund combined.

Devoting some or all of the state sales tax that Pennsylvania anglers pay an estimated $500 million they spend on fishing gear, as Virginia does, would boost programs and services for fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, Arway said.

Merely raising the price of a fishing license won’t help.

Every time prices increase, 8 percent to 10 percent of the state’s anglers stop fishing, Arway said during the conference call with reporters.

In the past decade, Pennsylvania resident fishing licenses dropped 5.2 percent.

License prices last increased in 2005 to $21 for a Pennsylvania resident age 16 to 64.

Anglers actually pay $22.70 when including a processing fee. A trout and salmon stamp costs another $9.70.