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The Buy a Florida Fishing License Campaign was started by the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. It is a joint initiative of the Foundation and their Conservation Partners. The purpose of the campaign is to:

1. Increase the sale of fishing licenses in Florida
2. Inform people of the importance of buying their license
3. Tell the story of where the license funds go and what it takes to maintain healthy fisheries in the state of Florida.

What am I contributing to when I buy a fishing license? 

Fishing is one of the most popular American pastimes, so it’s important we as a community maintain healthy and productive fish populations. Fishery managers help with fish management plans and stocking, but anglers must do their part to contribute too.

It’s important that all anglers have a fishing license to contribute to the conservation of our natural aquatic areas so that others can fish in the future. Respecting other anglers, following fishing laws, keeping the environment around us clean, and fishing responsibly are some of the other ways you can participate in fish conservation.

Where do the funds from my fishing license go?

Did you know conserving our nation’s waterways is as easy as heading out for a day on the water? It’s true! Some of the most simple and even enjoyable activities can make a difference in local conservation efforts. Every time an angler purchases a fishing license or a boater registers their boat, they are helping to preserve our nation’s coastlines, lakes, rivers and streams. They’re also making sure our aquatic resources will be available to younger generations for years to come. In addition, when an angler buys fishing tackle or a boater buys fuel, a portion of those funds help conservation as well.
 
All these funds together are distributed to states by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Sport Fish Restoration Program. These funds are then used for conservation projects such as: acquiring and improving fish habitats, stocking fish, providing aquatic resource education opportunities, conducting fisheries research, maintaining public access; and constructing boat ramps, fishing piers and other facilities.

The importance of fishing laws

Fishing laws or regulations protect natural resources and help anglers enjoy more success. If we did not have these regulations, anglers would be able to fish for all species, at all times, and in any quantity, which could deplete a fish population and cause a species to become extinct.
Fishing rules and regulations are set and managed by each individual state. In Florida that is Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)  Some states have fishing laws that apply throughout the state. Other states may have different laws for different bodies of water. Always check the state’s fishing rules before a fishing trip.

Common Fishing Regulations

  • Set restrictions around the type of fishing license needed
  • Set a start and end date for a fishing season
  • Set limits on how many fish of a certain species you can take in one day
  • Set limits on the number of fishing lines and hooks you are allowed to use
  • Set regulations on the type of tackle and fishing method used for a specific species or a specific body of water
  • Set limits on size of fish

All fishing laws are intended to conserve and improve fish populations. Daily fish limits are meant to keep people from taking too many fish at one time. This makes it possible for more people to share in a fishery.
 
Don’t be discouraged by fishing regulations; they do not mean you cannot go fishing. If a fishing law is in place, and you have a valid state fishing license, practice catch and release. Proper catch and release will return the regulated fish back to the water to help the population thrive.

Fish management plans

With more than 47 million anglers in the U.S., and over 3 million anglers in Florida, fishing can put a lot of pressure on the fish species, as well as the environment in which they live. Managing fish populations is a way we can protect and sustain the fishery resources we have today. This management involves habitat oversight, research, stocking and state regulations, and is funded through the Sport Fish Restoration Program.

Fish managers and biologists

State fish and wildlife agencies employ fish managers and biologists to help care for the wildlife and wild places within their states. Fish biologists are scientists who manage fish populations. To create effective fish management plans, they need as much information about a fishery as possible. They try to learn the needs of anglers and the condition of the specific fish species. Biologists also need to know how many fish are being caught. They sometimes do this by surveying anglers after a day of fishing. Sometimes, biologists study fish by collecting them with nets or in other ways. Biologists also mark fish with special tags or by clipping one or more of their fins. When marked fish are collected later, the biologists learn how fast fish are growing, how many are caught, and how far they have traveled. After studying this information, biologists devise fish management plans and fishing laws that combine best ways to produce more and better fishing for anglers while still conserving resources.

Managing fish habitats

There are many ways to protect habitats for fish. As you have likely learned, fish require the right water temperature, oxygen level, food source and cover. Below are a few of the fish management plans that states employ to manage populations.
 
Managing the vegetation in a body of water can have a big impact on the fish populations. Aquatic plants provide oxygen, attract food and offer protection for fish in most waters. However, too many plants are harmful and can "choke" a lake. Unfortunately, aquatic plants are hard to control. Cutting, poisoning, uprooting excess plant growth, and introducing fish that eat vegetation have all been tried to manage weed growth. One of the best controls is limiting the plant food that enters the water in the form of sewage, fertilizers or farm waste.
 
Building artificial reefs to attract and provide a home for both freshwater and saltwater fish is another way fish management plans can improve some fisheries. Such artificial habitat provides cover, safety and food for fish. Reefs are important because they provide an area for the bottom of the food chain to develop. The algae and plankton that develop there are a source of food for bait fish and game fish.

Fish stocking and fish hatcheries

One very common way fish populations are managed is through fish stocking. Fish stocking uses hatchery-reared fish to enhance existing fisheries and establish new populations within a body of water. Not only does stocking help to regulate fish numbers, it also provides more opportunities for anglers to enjoy a day of fishing.
 
Stocked fish come from a fish hatchery, a federal or state-run facility that spawns and rears fish in a controlled environment.
Hatcheries raise many kinds of fish for stocking. The most popular freshwater fish that is stocked is trout, but other popular species, such as largemouth bass, steelhead, catfish and many more, are also stocked.
 
Fish management plans will include monitoring a stocked lake and attempting to balance the populations of fish species sharing the aquatic environment. Some popular fishing lakes are stocked often, while others may be stocked on a need-only basis. Most states only stock public waters, but some states offer opportunities for private ponds and lakes to be stocked as well.

Your $17 investment today helps achieve goals tomorrow.

You don’t even have to fish to benefit from purchasing a Florida fishing license. The revenue collected from fishing licenses is used to improve and enhance fishing and boating opportunities throughout the state in salt and fresh waters. Things like public marinas, boat ramps, fishing clinics, and artificial reefs are the types of programs funded with your fishing license dollars.

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