California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 817, first introduced by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), which transitions California’s calendar-based fishing license to one that is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. The bill also includes a mobile application designed to make fishing easier and more accessible, and provides for an electronic fishing license.

“It’s time for California to abandon its antiquated fishing license sales system,” Wood said. “Modernizing this to a full 365-day license from the date of purchase will encourage more Californians to fish and increase fishing license revenues that fund critical state fishing and conservation programs.”

“Prior to 2020, annual license sales had experienced a decline starting in 1980 to the tune of 55 percent, while the state’s population has increased over 60 percent since that time,” Wood said. “In 2020, California fishing license sales spiked upward due to increased participation in angling activities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the long-term trend is still downward.”

Before getting to Gov. Newsom’s desk, the California State Senate and Assembly passed Assembly Bill 817 with unanimous votes and with strong support from CCA California. This victory for all anglers had failed on nine previous attempts and is something that the entire sportfishing industry has been seeking for a long time.

“The anglers of California have been asking to get the full value out of their purchase of a fishing license forever,” said Wayne Kotow, executive director for CCA California. “We finally can see success after the efforts of so many who have tried to accomplish this task over the years. Anglers deserve this along with the option to display their license electronically and have auto-renewal available.”

Under the bill’s language, the 365-day license versus a calendar license and electronic display option would go into effect on or before Jan. 1, 2023. The auto-renewal option has already been rolled out in 2020 and the funding for the electronic fishing license is included in this year’s budget.

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