At a recent Boy Scout Roundtable meeting, a Texas Parks and Wildlife police officer talked about what adult leaders should know before taking their packs and troops fishing.
A surprising fact was that White Rock Lake, an inner-city Dallas lake, is among the cleanest and most diverse sources of fish.
Toward the end of the Q&A period, I asked, “What is the purpose of licensing recreational fishers?”
Short answer: revenue. He could not identify any other purpose, although he waxed eloquently about where the revenue went.
“License” revenue generated $80 million of gross income in 2006-2007 (source). Subtract $7.7 “license” issuance costs (source), and subtract TPWD’s $45 million law enforcement budget, the minimum profit is $27.3 million. The profit is likely several millions higher because not all TPWD enforcement time is spent punishing un-“licensed” fishers.
Possessing a license is supposed to be certification that you meet a standard. We’re all familiar with the driver’s license, but there are many other forms of licensing, such as refrigerant purchase licenses, concealed carry licenses, etc.
Having money taken from you is not a “standard.” Calling this function a license cheapens the term and fuels cynicism. Just call it what it is: a tax.