In July, 2011, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law LD 210, "An Act Regarding the Saltwater Recreational Fishing Registry," which simplifies the requirements for both resident and non-resident anglers who wish to fish in the state's coastal waters.
The new registry, effective immediately, replaces Maine's fee-based license program that was implemented on January 1st. The Maine registry meets the standards established by the federal government to exempt anglers from the federal registry.
The bill, sponsored by state Senator David Trahan (R-20), contains several unique provisions. One allows owners of private docks and piers (such as waterfront hotels and restaurants) to obtain a free "umbrella" operator's license that will cover all anglers wishing to fish from that property. Charter and party boat operators, as well as smelt camp owners, can get a similar free permit. Another provision allows anyone who purchases a Maine freshwater fishing license to sign up for the saltwater registry at the same time at no additional charge.
Maine residents can fish in salt water on Memorial Day weekend, July 4th, and Labor Day weekend without registering, and non-residents who are licensed to fish in salt water in any other state, or with the federal registry, will not need to register in Maine.
Pete Moumouras of Saco Bay Tackle in Saco, the state's largest saltwater bait and tackle shop, felt the new registry would be good for his business. "It's a huge relief to get rid of that $15 non-resident fee," he explained. "All that did was discourage visitors from going fishing. Now we can advertise that Maine saltwater fishing is virtually free through the registry, and for folks who are licensed elsewhere. It's a big pull for the state."
Although the $5 resident and $15 non-resident fees to target striped bass and other anadromous fish associated with the previous license program have been eliminated, as have the $50 charter/party operator and smelt camp fees, the minimal $1 or $2 agent fees (depending on how anglers register) must by law remain in effect.
Anglers can register online at: www.maine.gov/saltwater
Registration will also be available through electronic agents of Maine's Dept. of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife as well as tackle shops and town offices.