By John Hoffman
I can remember a few years back on a party boat trip hearing some anglers complaining about having to purchase a saltwater fishing license. Having some knowledge of the subject, I explained that the fees could help make major improvements for fishermen; still my opinion was met with skepticism.
Today I’m happy to report that the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has put the money to great use. There have been major renovations to fishing piers in Oak Bluffs, Bass River and Scusset on the Cape Cod Canal. Other fishing areas such as Cashman Park in Newburyport have benefitted from close to one million dollars brought in annually. The funding has also been used to increase public fishing access and provide small grants to towns, helping them clear space and add lighting for anglers.
In addition, DMF has been able to hire additional EMRIP surveyors, doubling the fish catch sample size used for stock assessments and management. The agency is also expanding the Angler Education Program, which will help introduce new generations of anglers into the sport. There are many more ongoing projects according to Michael Armstrong, Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
“We have biologists setting up counting stations and monitoring over 80 river herring runs, we have installed new fish ladders and the river herring stocks are starting to look healthy again. We have been working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service reintroducing shad into the Charles River too.” said Armstrong
Another exciting project according to Armstrong is an artificial reef going in this March, which will be located about 2 miles south of Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich, sure to be a magnet for Black Sea Bass. So the next time you log on to buy your Saltwater Fishing License this year, feel good, remember your fee is going a long way to improve Fishing Opportunities in Massachusetts for everyone.