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Pier License, No-Net-Loss Bills Passed

As the nation waits in nervous anticipation as the massive oil spill looms off the central Gulf Coast, it appears a slow westward movement of the slick will be to the good fortune of Alabama and the detriment of Louisiana.

Still, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the impact of the spill on the entire Gulf of Mexico and anglers are trying to maximize their time with a line in the water in anticipation that the spill will force officials to close state waters to fishing at some point.

Before the oil spill became a factor in fishing on the Alabama Coast, the Alabama Legislature decided to make it easier for out-of-state visitors to purchase a reasonably priced license to fish the public piers on inside waters and the Gulf of Mexico.

House Bill 386 establishes a nonresident public pier fishing license for an annual fee of $10. The legislation also changes the annual expiration date of public pier fishing licenses and saltwater pier fishing licenses to August 31. Alabama residents can purchase an annual pier license for $5. Both pier licenses also require an issuance fee of $1 per license, which means a non-resident pier license would cost a total of $11 and the resident pier license would be a total of $6.

The public piers include Gulf State Park Pier, Fairhope Pier and Fort Morgan Pier. Dauphin Island Pier is landlocked and no fishing is available. Residents and nonresidents are required to purchase a fishing permit at Gulf State Park Pier in addition to the pier license, but more on that later.

Just to make sure everyone understands what the new licenses entail, the new pier license would cover only fishing from the pier structures. If you fish from the surf next to the pier, you will have to have a regular saltwater fishing license, whether resident or non-resident. If you fish in saltwater anywhere else in Alabama waters, you’ll have to have a regular saltwater fishing license with one exception –fishing on board a licensed charter boat. Charter boats, both inshore and offshore, purchase licenses that cover all anglers on board.

For most nonresidents, the annual Alabama saltwater fishing license costs $45. For Louisiana, the fee is $90, the same fee charged to Alabama residents in Louisiana.

Alabama residents and nonresidents possessing a current saltwater fishing license, and residents and nonresidents under age 16, as well as residents age 65 or over are exempt from the pier license requirements.

Now back to Gulf State Park Pier. Residents and nonresidents are required to purchase a fishing permit at Gulf State Park Pier in addition to the pier license. A daily adult permit to fish on Gulf State Park Pier is $8. So, if you’re a nonresident and want to fish on Gulf State Park Pier for one day, it will cost $10 for the annual pier license, a $1 issuance fee and an $8 daily fishing permit for a total of $19. For a resident pier fisherman at Gulf State Park pier, the total cost would be $14.

However, if the license holder comes back to the pier at any time during that license year (expires on Aug. 31), the only fee will be the $8 daily fishing permit.

Of course, Gulf State Park Pier offers more than just a daily fishing permit that will save frequent anglers money. A weekly pier fishing permit costs $40, while the monthly permit is $80, the semi-annual is $160 and the annual is $320.

In other legislative action in the recently completed session, House Bill 330 directs the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) to make sure there is no net loss of acreage available for hunting.

The legislation requires ADCNR to “find replacement acreage for hunting lands when existing hunting lands owned by the department are closed or to find replacement acreage for hunting lands, where feasible, when existing hunting lands managed by the department are closed to ensure there is no net loss of land acreage available for hunting. Department-owned lands and department-managed lands shall be open to access and use for hunting except as limited by the department for reasons of demonstrable public safety, fish or wildlife management, homeland security, or as otherwise limited by law.”

Should current hunting land be lost, the legislation also encourages ADCNR to find replacement land that is located in the same administrative region and that it should “be consistent with the hunting discipline that the department allowed on the closed land.”

Companion bills, Senate Bill 76 and House Bill 302, were passed to clarify the regulations and licensing on bird hunting preserves.

The regulation states that "game which may be hunted on a preserve licensed under this article shall be artificially propagated or "pen-raised" bob-white quail, pheasants, chukar partridge, and such other species of birds, except for artificially propagated or "pen-raised" turkeys, as the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources shall designate.”

The hunting preserves have the option of two licenses. A basic privilege license fee for operating a hunting preserve is $25 per year for the first 100 acres of hunting preserve area, plus $5 per year for each additional 100 acres or part thereof. An issuance fee of $2 also applies.

If the preserve opts for the basic license, a resident or nonresident hunter may purchase a seven-day commercial bird hunting preserve license for $8 (plus $2 issuance fee) in lieu of a regular hunting license. The seven-day license allows that person the privilege of hunting only artificially propagated or pen-raised birds legal to hunt on a licensed commercial bird hunting preserve.

The second option is the operator of a commercial bird hunting preserve may purchase a $500 license (plus $2 issuance fee) that covers the preserve privilege license and exempts the patrons of the preserve from the license requirement of a valid Alabama hunting license. The preserve season is set for Oct. 1 through March 31 each year.

The legislation also gives any licensed bird hunting preserve the authority to sell resident and nonresident hunting licenses.

PHOTO: (By David Rainer) Nonresident anglers can now purchase a license to fish on Gulf State Park Pier, Fairhope Pier and Fort Morgan Pier for a reasonable price.

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Read previous columns by David Rainer


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