(AP) - Young anglers can buy a license to promote fishing, whereas senior citizens who buy lifetime licenses after this year might need to purchase a stamp to fish for trout and salmon.
Children 15 and younger don't need a license to fish in Pennsylvania, but they can donate to youth fishing programs by purchasing a special license introduced this year.
When children buy licenses for $2.70, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat commission will get the payment and qualify for about $5 in federal revenue for each children's license sold.
Proceeds will go entirely to youth programs. If one in four children who fish buy licenses, the commission would receive $550,000.
About 24 percent of children in Pennsylvania went fishing in 2010. That is down from 37 percent in 2005.
Meanwhile, senior citizens who can buy a lifetime license for $50 after they turn 65 have been able to fish for trout and salmon at no extra cost.
Anyone buying a senior license after Jan. 1, 2015, however, would have to purchase a trout and salmon stamp each year that they want to fish for those species, if the commission's board gives final approval to the plan.
Seniors who buy licenses before then will be grandfathered into existing rules. So they can continue to fish for trout and salmon without buying stamps, which currently cost $9.70 annually.
The aging of Pennsylvania anglers and the cost of raising trout led to the proposal.
"We can no longer afford to allow anyone required to purchase a senior resident lifetime fishing license to fish for trout without paying for the privilege to do so annually," commission Executive Director John Arway said Feb. 19 in his annual report to the Legislature.
The trout program accounts for 36 percent of spending from the commission's Fish Fund.
Revenue from senior license sales totaled $829,820 during the previous fiscal year.
Since 1979, about 465,000 seniors have purchased special licenses.
About one in 10 Pennsylvania residents fish.
Sales of fishing licenses contributed $17 million of the $35.4 million budget for the commission, which receives no tax dollars from the state's general fund.
Since 1990, sales of licenses have dropped from 1.2 million to 850,000 last year.
Declining sales of fishing licenses are one reason that state Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Lehighton, gave for proposing to shorten the terms of commission board members to four years from eight years.
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