New rules, regulations, and laws - or repeals of old ones - are constantly altering the landscape of the fishing industry, from harvest limits to licensing hurdles. Smart anglers should always keep an eye on the news for the latest breakthroughs in fishing rules. While most regulations are localized to specific states or regions, you never know when one of those many new laws is going to impact your fishing routine, or when a law in New England may inspire a bill proposal on the west coast. Here are few of the more notable fishing regulation changes that have come along in the past year.
1) In January, New England fishery managers voted to further regulate the amounts of fish that are allowed to be caught each season.
The vote reduced the limit on Gulf of Maine cod by a jaw-dropping 76 percent and hindered the catch numbers allowed for many other fish by similar percentages, including other species of cod and types of flounder or haddock. Fishing boat companies - and indeed, the entire New England economy - stand to be devastated by the news, which leaves the New England fishing industry with too many fishermen competing for too few fish. States continue to fight against the regulations with full-fledged lawsuits, so keep an eye on the news to see how this one turns out.
2) Good news for casual Florida anglers: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has added four more license-free fishing days to the season, including Oct. 12 and Nov. 30 for saltwater fishing and Nov. 29 and Dec. 28 for freshwater.
Florida governor Rick Scott believes the license-free fishing days help to introduce newcomers to the sport of fishing, so take the opportunity to bring a friend along for the day and show them the ropes.
3) In Washington and Oregon, record-breaking schools of chinook salmon are traveling through the Columbia River this fall.
Both states have revised their regulations pertaining to chinook salmon accordingly, expanding chinook season to the end of the year and allowing anglers to catch up to two adult chinook every single day. In other words, if you're in Washington or Oregon, you should have more than enough salmon prospects to get you through the rest of the year.
4) If you like to take your fishing boat all over Texas, then the state's new proposal for combating the spread of zebra mussels could impact you.
The state wants to require boaters to drain all water from their vessels before traveling on public lakes, ponds, or rivers. Since zebra mussels are damaging to nearly everything they touch, from other mussel species to fish themselves, anglers should be happy about the rule, even if repeatedly draining water from their boats could end up being a time-consuming hassle.
5) The 2009 sinking of a scallop boat off of Cape May, New Jersey could very shortly lead to sweeping changes in commercial fishing regulations.
United States Coast Guard recently recommended 45 new rules and requirements for commercial fishing operations, from boat inspections to mandatory crew training courses. Even if you are just a casual angler, you will likely be hearing all about these new rules in the coming months, as the United States Coast Guard transforms the way that fishing vessels are built, managed, and staffed.