With the summer fishing season fast approaching, state officials are reminding saltwater fishermen to register with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program if they are required to do so.
John Bull, a spokesman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, said that the new program, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, requires everyone who fishes in Virginia’s salt waters, or for saltwater species in tidal fresh water, to register with the VMRC if they are exempt from buying a saltwater fishing license.
However, anglers who buy a Virginia saltwater fishing license of any type are automatically registered.
As of late May, only 21,000 fishermen had registered this year, Bull said. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates 750,000 people a year fish in Virginia’s salt waters.
"It is apparent that many anglers are not aware they are required to register if they are fishing without having to buy a saltwater fishing license," said Jack Travelstead, VMRC’s fisheries chief. "We urge people to become aware of the law and to register before they go fishing this year. It’s easy and it’s free."