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New Law Revises Recreational Fishing Licenses
Adds New Fees; Revenue to Fund Projects Including Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament

July 12 , 2007

With the passage of House Bill 107 into Delaware law, effective Jan. 1, 2008 the First State will require a general fishing license for fishing in freshwater and/or tidal waters, or for recreational crabbing or clamming. In addition, the new law also includes new fees for charter boats and head boats and an option for a recreational boat fishing license.

“This landmark legislation marks the first fishing license increase in Delaware since 1985,” said Fisheries Administrator Roy Miller. “The much-needed revenue that these changes will generate will enable us to do a great many things benefiting Delaware anglers, including the immediate reinstatement of the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament, which was reluctantly suspended due to lack of funding last year.”

The new law did not change the fee for a resident annual fishing license, which remains $8.50. The non-resident fee will increase from $15 to $20 per year, and the seven-day tourist license will go from $5.20 to $12.50. Each of these license options entitles the holder to fish in any of Delaware's waters, as well as crabbing and clamming.

Another option for both residents and non-residents is to purchase an annual recreational boat license, which will cost $40 for vessels 20 feet long or less and $50 for vessels more than 20 feet long. This license will cover all persons fishing from the licensed vessel. Residents who purchase a Delaware boat fishing license also will be given a complimentary Delaware fishing license for their own use in any Delaware waters.

The new charter boat fee, for a boat hired on a per trip basis, will be $150 annually for resident charter boat owners and $300 for non-resident owners. A head boat license, for a boat hired on a per person basis, will cost $300 annually for resident head boat owners and $600 for non-resident owners. Both the charter and head boat fishing licenses will cover the license holder as well as all persons fishing from the licensed vessel.

Residents and non-residents are exempt from fishing license requirements if they are the operator of a vehicle with a valid Delaware surf fishing vehicle permit as long as the vehicle is located on a designated Delaware State Park surf fishing area. Normal licensing provisions will apply to other occupants of that vehicle if they are fishing.

Children under the age of 16 and senior residents 65 and older are exempt from the new licensing provisions. Under state and federal law, all fishing license revenue must be dedicated to the Division of Fish and Wildlife for fishing related projects and cannot be diverted to other uses. The new law also establishes the Council on Recreational Fishing Funding, with seven voting members to be appointed by the Governor to advise the Division on expenditure of recreational fishing license funds for maintenance and construction projects. The Council, which will also have three non-voting members, two from the General Assembly and one from the Division, will meet once or twice a year.

The new licenses will be available at license agents statewide in December 2007 and online in November 2007. For more information or to obtain a fishing license, please call 302-739-9914, 302-739-9911 or 302-739-9918, or visit and click on the fishing licenses link.

The Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament is a popular program that provides recognition patches and citations to anglers whose catch exceeds certain weight minimums for each eligible species. A companion program provides recognition patches for catch and release entries that exceed certain length minimums. For more information on the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament, please call 302-739-9914 or visit and click on “Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament.”

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