BOURNE, Mass. (AP) – People have tossed hooks and lines into the New England tides since long before there was a Cape Cod Canal for Eddie Pachucki to fish in. So Pachucki, casting into the canal’s current for striped bass, couldn’t fathom why he’d soon owe the state for the privilege.

“They didn’t put the stripers there,” said the 31-year-old baker. “Why should I pay to catch them?”

Starting in 2010, federal law requires all the nation’s saltwater fishermen to be registered, whether they fish from a boat, dock or the Cape canal’s rocky borders. In most states, the registration will come with an annual fee of about $10 to $25.

Fishery managers say the registry is needed because they don’t really know the number of saltwater fishermen or what they’re catching – but they could be reeling in enough fish to deplete popular stocks. A registry of anglers will help gather better catch information so fishery managers know if a species is being overfished and can make rules to protect it.

But the new requirement has met stubborn resistance in the Northeast.

Of the 21 coastal states in the continental United States, five haven’t approved a registry:Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and New Jersey, even though the National Saltwater Angler Registry was originally supposed to be in place in January.

Many fishermen believe the fees won’t stay low and will ultimately fund free-spending state governments. They doubt it can provide accurate catch data. They also wonder why they’re being tracked when their catch is puny compared with heavily tracked commercial fishermen.

Maine state Rep. John McKane, a Newcastle Republican who’s opposed to the registry, says it’s just not the government’s business to know who’s picking up a rod and heading for surf.

“It requires people to go and get a certificate from the government for something they’ve always done, free as you please,” he said. “We’re losing our freedoms, they keep getting eroded one by one, and this is a big one.”

The registry was mandated in 2007, when the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Act was reauthorized. There are various registry exemptions, including one for anyone under 16.

States get any proceeds if they design their own programs, which often involve collecting information for the registry when they issue a license. The fees pay for administrative costs and services such as public land acquisition for fishing. This week, Connecticut lawmakers became the latest to pass a registry, approving a bill that charges between $10 to $15 for saltwater fishing licenses.

Cape Cod fisherman Patrick Paquette, who’s on a committee that’s designing the Massachusetts registry, says it’s needed, but admits ambivalence. He believes new numbers could reveal there’s more recreational fishing than now estimated, and lead to tighter restrictions.

Fred DeFinis, who fishes out of Warwick, R.I., questioned why any fisherman who believes, as he does, that the data will used to “bludgeon” fishermen will honestly report their catch.

“I’d probably be somewhat less than cooperative, only because I resent the whole thing to begin with,” he said.

A few hundred yards away, near the mouth of a herring run, Jeff Fish of West Springfield said he believes any new license fees would eventually get “sucked up in the coffers somewhere,” and not benefit fishermen.

But as he spoke, standing over the gleaming silver, white and black of a striper he’d just pulled up, the 46-year-old Fish made it clear he’s not planning rebellion. He’ll sign up for the registry if he has to and tell the truth if called. He also made something else about the registry clear:

“I don’t like it.”


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