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States are entrusted with the protection of fish and wildlife within its borders. In order to preserve its fish population, many states require fishing licenses to be purchased by residents and certain others, unless exempt. Different licenses maybe issued for freshwater and saltwater fishing. State laws vary, so local law should be consulted for the exact requirements in your area.
The following is an example of a state law governing fishing licenses:
"Licenses and permits; exemptions; fees.--No person, except as provided herein, shall take game, freshwater fish, or fur-bearing animals within this state without having first obtained a license, permit, or authorization and paid the fees hereinafter set forth, unless such license is issued without fee as provided in s. 372.561. Such license, permit, or authorization shall authorize the person to whom it is issued to take game, freshwater fish, or fur-bearing animals in accordance with law and commission rules. Such license, permit, or authorization is not transferable. Each license or permit must bear on its face in indelible ink the name of the person to whom it is issued and other information requested by the commission. Such license, permit, or authorization issued by the commission or any agent must be in the personal possession of the person to whom issued while taking game, freshwater fish, or fur-bearing animals. The failure of such person to exhibit such license, permit, or authorization to the commission or its wildlife officers, when such person is found taking game, freshwater fish, or fur-bearing animals, is a violation of law. A positive form of identification is required when using an authorization, a lifetime license, a 5-year license, or when otherwise required by the license or permit. The lifetime licenses and 5-year licenses provided herein shall be embossed with the name, date of birth, date of issuance, and other pertinent information as deemed necessary by the commission. A certified copy of the applicant's birth certificate shall accompany each application for a lifetime license for a resident 12 years of age or younger. Each applicant for a license, permit, or authorization shall provide the applicant's social security number on the application form. Disclosure of social security numbers obtained through this requirement shall be limited to the purpose of administration of the Title IV-D child support enforcement program and use by the commission, and as otherwise provided by law.
(1) A license or permit is not required for:
(a) Any child under 16 years of age except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
(b) Any person hunting or fishing in the person's county of residence on the person's homestead or the homestead of the person's spouse or minor child, or any minor child hunting or fishing on the homestead of her or his parent.
(c) Any resident who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, who is not stationed in this state, when home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders.
(d) Any resident when fishing with live or natural bait, using poles or lines which are not equipped with a fishing line retrieval mechanism, and fishing for noncommercial purposes in the county of her or his residence, except on legally established fish management areas. This paragraph, as amended by chapter 76-156, Laws of Florida, may be cited as the "Dempsey J. Barron, W. D. Childers, and Joe Kershaw Cane Pole Tax Repeal Act of 1976."
(e) Any person fishing in a fish pond of 20 acres or less which is located entirely within the private property of the fish pond owner.
(f) Any person fishing in a fish pond which is licensed in accordance with s. 372.5705.
(g) Any person fishing who has been accepted as a client for developmental services by the Department of Children and Family Services, which department shall furnish such person proof thereof.
(h) Any resident 65 years of age or older who has in her or his possession proof of age and residency. A free license may be obtained from any tax collector's office upon proof of age and residency. "