A bill that would raise saltwater license fees for Louisiana residents from $5.50 annually to $13.00 unanimously passed the Natural Resources Committee this morning at the State Capitol and is now headed to the full House for consideration.

House Bill 1082, authored by Rep. Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette) and supported by Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana, would create a Saltwater Fish Research and Conservation Fund that could be used by the state for the LA Creel program, which would allow the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to collect more precise recreational harvest data.

“I had a couple of questions on whether it would affect out-of-state licenses or senior citizens, and I told them no on that,” Bishop said. “They agreed with putting the 4-year sunset on it and other than that, I had no opposition to the bill. 

“No one came to speak in opposition to the bill and it passed 13-0 favorably.”

The potential price increase would not affect residents who turned 60 before June 1, 2000, Bishop said. 

As reported by LouisianaSportsman.com last week, the bill includes a 4-year sunset provision which will allow legislators the opportunity to review the program’s progress in four years and determine if the increase will remain, or if the license fee will revert back to $5.50.

Bishop said the bill probably will be heard for final passage in the House one day next week.

If it passes there, Bishop said it heads to the Senate Natural Resources Committee, and if it successfully clears that hurdle, the bill heads to the full Senate for final passage.

On Jan. 1 of this year, the state stopped its participation in the federal Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), which is used by NOAA Fisheries officials to estimate red snapper recreational landings in the Gulf of Mexico.

The LA Creel program administered by LDWF is expected to gather more precise data from Louisiana's coastal anglers, which could be critical in estimating the state's recreational snapper landings.