Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission officials say they may soon have no choice but to increase the cost of voluntary youth fishing licenses, if not by a lot.
Federal funding – or the threat of losing it – is the reason.
The commission created the license in 2014 for anglers younger than 16. Purchasing one is not a prerequisite to fishing for kids.
The commission created them anyway with one goal in mind: to raise money to support youth fishing programs, said executive director John Arway.
The licenses themselves generate minimal revenue. Sales hit 7,828 in 2015. At $1 each, that brought in $7,828 for the agency.
But each license sold also earns the commission about $5 in federal funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The 2016 youth license sales will ultimately – there’s a two- to three-year lag in when it comes in — net the commission about $39,140.
But the agency believes it’s important.
It’s also at risk.
Up until now, there’s been no national standard for the cost of youth licenses. Some
states, like Pennsylvania, have been charging as little as $1 to secure apportion of that bigger pot of federal funding. Other states have been charging more per youth licenses – and perhaps selling fewer — and getting less federal money as a result..
The Fish and Wildlife Service created a task force and told it to find a way to “level the playing field,” Arway said.
Its recommendation is in. While not yet formally adopted, it suggests states must charge at least $2 for a youth license to get federal money.
“When that happens, that might result in an increase that we might have to make to our voluntary youth license to be able to capture those federal funds,” he said.
The out-of-pocket expense for a youth license in Pennsylvania now is $2.90. But that includes a $1 issuing agent fee and 90 cents in processing fees, said Bernie Matscavage, director of the bureau of administration for the commission.
“So we would have to go to $3.90,”said commissioner Ed Mashcarka of Erie County.
That’s correct, Arway said.
If the price increases, it won’t likely be before 2018 or later, said Brian Barner, deputy director for administration for the commission.