News Releases

Say ‘I Do’ to getting a fishing license and helping conservation

News Release

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Media contact: By Bob Wattendorf


By Bob Wattendorf

“I Do” are probably the two most important words many of us speak in our life when we take our wedding vows. Now they are taking on a new meaning for anglers who care about Florida’s exceptional fisheries and aquatic resources.

The “I Do” Fishing License Campaign ( emphasizes the fact that you don't have to fish to benefit from purchasing a Florida fishing license. Fishing is important to Florida’s economy and quality of life, and buying a fishing license is a simple way for a non-angler to support conservation.

Revenue collected from fishing licenses is used to improve and enhance fishing and boating opportunities throughout the state in salt and fresh waters. Public marinas, boat ramps, fishing clinics, fish stocking, habitat enhancement projects, research projects and artificial reefs are all funded with your fishing license dollars. For each license sold, Florida is eligible for approximately $8 in additional funding from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration program. These funds, together with license revenues, go directly to making fishing more enjoyable.

More than 3 million anglers enjoy recreational fishing in Florida and spend an average of 17 days each on the water. Nearly half of anglers are exempt from having to purchase a fishing license, yet the “I DO” campaign encourages exempt anglers such as youth under 16 and resident adults over 65 to voluntarily purchase a license. Fishing licenses are sold at many bait and tackle shops, sporting good stores, local tax collector offices, and by calling 888-FISH FLORIDA or going online at

Famed artist Guy Harvey has taken the pledge and contributed his artwork to an optional hard-card fishing license that costs just an extra $4. It is a great way to show your pride and say, “I Do” care about Florida’s fish.

Since the “I DO” campaign and the newly designed hard card were launched, the FWC has sold more than 100,000 Guy Harvey hard-card licenses.

“The ‘I DO’ campaign is a great example of the cooperative efforts between the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida and the FWC,” said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. “The end result is enhanced conservation and recreational opportunities for Floridians.”

Recently, the FWC was well-represented at the 58th International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST. Almost 13,000 representatives of the global sportfishing community, from exhibitors to buyers to outdoor media, convened at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for the world’s largest sportfishing trade show. FWC staff manned an exhibit and conducted a media event to highlight how “great resources and responsible management,” funded by license sales and Sport Fish Restoration funds, help keep Florida the “Fishing and Boating Capital of the World.”

Staff also attended various symposia and worked with the industry to develop partnerships that will ultimately further expand the positive economic impacts of recreational fishing and boating in Florida and create more jobs. Current estimates reported by Southwick Associates and published in "Sportfishing in America: An Economic Force for Conservation, 2013," clearly document that Florida remains the “Fishing Capital of the World.” Florida ranked first among the states and territories with 3.1 million anglers (#2 New York had 1.9 million), and total expenditures of $5 billion (vs. $2.7 billion for New York). Florida's role as THE fishing destination for travelers was also overwhelmingly reaffirmed, with 2 million nonresident anglers visiting the state (#2 Michigan had 347,000). The ripple effect of these dollars was an $8.7 billion economic impact from Florida's recreational fisheries that supported 80,211 jobs.

The FWC also worked with the governor’s office to organize a visit from Governor Rick Scott where he met with several Florida-based fishing companies that are active partners with the FWC. The Governor then participated in a roundtable discussion with fishing industry leaders about the future of fishing. The next day, Department of Economic Opportunity Director Jesse Panuccio visited ICAST and took a tour to gain a perspective on how important recreational fishing and boating are to Florida’s lifestyle and economy.

“The FWC is viewed as a national leader for working with the fishing industry to recruit, engage and retain anglers,” said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

A typical angler fishes an average of 17 days per year and four hours per trip, so an annual resident fishing license works out to cost about 25 cents per hour of fun and healthy recreation that may end up providing a tasty meal or, better still, bragging rights and memories for a lifetime, making it a great deal.

Even if you don’t fish or aren’t required to buy a license but care about Florida’s aquatic resources and ensuring future generations can enjoy this great American tradition, you can say, “I Do,” and make a difference by buying a fishing license today.

Instant licenses are available at or by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356). Report violators by calling 888-404-3922, *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone, or texting to Visit and select “more news,” or for more Fish Busters’ Bulletins. To subscribe to FWC columns or to receive news releases, visit

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