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CONCORD, N.H. - On December 31, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Fisheries Service will release the final rule creating a national saltwater angler registry of all marine recreational fishermen to help the nation better protect its shared marine resources. The rule requires anglers and spearfishers who fish recreationally in federal ocean waters or who fish anywhere in tidal waters for anadromous fish, including striped bass, smelt, shad, or salmon, to register with the national saltwater angler registry beginning January 1, 2010. NOAA had originally proposed that registration be required beginning in January 2009, but, based on public input, decided to give states another year to put in place their own data collection systems. The requirement to establish a registry was part of a law approved by Congress in 2007.

"Under the new rule, New Hampshire saltwater anglers will not have to register in January 2009," said Douglas Grout, Chief of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Marine Division. "A year from now, they will have to register, either for the federal saltwater angler registry, or a state licensing system if the state has one in place that meets federal data collection requirements."

Here's how it will work: Beginning in January 2010, NOAA will implement the national registration system. At that time, anglers in states that do not have a state licensing or registration system must register through NOAA. No federal fee will be charged in 2010, but an estimated fee of $15 to $25 per angler will be charged starting in 2011. Anglers fishing from licensed party or charter boats would not be required to registered with NOAA, since these vessels are surveyed separately from angler surveys.

"NOAA wants to work closely with the states and anglers to better capture the contributions and effects of sportfishing," said Jim Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service. "We expect that this additional year will allow a number of states to put in place systems to register their anglers annually and provide this information to NOAA."

Proposed legislation has been filed in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would establish a state recreational saltwater license for fishing marine fish species in coastal or estuarine waters (2009-H-0196-R).

If saltwater anglers are not licensed or registered through a state system and want to fish in federal waters, they will be required to register with NOAA. They must also register if they fish in tidal waters for anadromous fish such as striped bass, smelt, shad, and salmon that spawn in rivers and spend their adult lives in estuaries and oceans.

NOAA received nearly 500 comments from anglers, state officials, and fishing and environmental organizations on its proposed national registry rule during the comment period from June 12 until Aug. 21, 2008. The registry is one component of the agency's new Marine Recreational Information Program, an initiative to enhance data collection on recreational catch and effort.

To read the final registry rule and other information about the Marine Recreational Information Program, go to:

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources. Visit

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's marine, fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. Visit