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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 23, 2021 12:38 PM
From: Representative Ed Neilson
To: All House members
Subject: Therapeutic Fishing License Exemption
Fishing has been used as a therapeutic activity by health care professionals in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments. Programs that teach fishing skills and provide experiences on the water have helped those with mental and physical disabilities, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. They also assist in recovery efforts for addiction, traumatic brain injury, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Organizations that provide fishing opportunities within treatment protocols include veterans’ groups such as the Wounded Warrior Project as well as health care advocates such as Casting for Recovery and Project Healing Waters.

The Fish and Boat Commission has the authority to award free license exemptions to participants of certain educational activities. However, the Commission currently has no specific exemption for therapeutic activities, relying instead on educational permits, even when the activity may not technically qualify as such. In the recent past, participants in over 60 different service organizations and hundreds of unique one-day fishing events across the Commonwealth could have been eligible for a therapeutic license exemption, if one had existed.

I hope you can join me in creating a specific license exemption for participants in organized therapeutic fishing activities. The Fish and Boat Commission supports this legislation and agrees on the unique value of these programs.

Introduced as House Bill 584 during the 2019-2020 session, this legislation passed the House unanimously.

Introduced as HB1108