DCREC Press Release … Governor Markell signs new bill to enable DNREC to issue low-numbered surf fishing vehicle plates
INDIAN RIVER LIFE-SAVING STATION AND MUSEUM (Oct.16, 2014) – Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary David Small, legislators and surf fishing groups and enthusiasts were on hand today as the Governor signed HB348, which allows DNREC and the Division of Parks & Recreation to issue low-numbered surf vehicle plates (1-1000) by sale or auction.
Each year, Delaware State Parks officials will release a number of low digit tags through a live auction in spring/early summer for a limited number of tags. The auction will occur in a clearly defined period. Once a person wins the bid, they will retain the tag as long as they continue to purchase their annual surf fishing permit sticker. This will be followed by an online auction for up to 100 total tags, where customers can bid on the numbered plate they are interested in. It is anticipated that the program will be in place by Memorial Day, 2015.
“This legislation has the potential to be a strong revenue source to benefit our state parks,” said Gov. Markell. “This year, more than 14,000 surf tags were sold, generating about $1.3 million for our state parks. So not only is this legislation a revenue-raiser for our parks, it appeals to parks users who have an affinity for low digit tags – and we in Delaware know that will appeal to a large number of potential buyers.”
The purchase of the low-numbered surf fishing plates is optional. If someone chooses not to purchase the numbered plate, they can continue to buy a surf fishing permit as they currently do. Once a low-number tag is purchased, the tag is retained by the purchaser as long as they continue to buy their annual surf fishing permit.
“Our state parks rely on outside revenues for about 65 percent of our budget”, said DNREC Secretary Small. “This is another example of working collaboratively with the General Assembly on innovative, often market-based initiatives to generate funds for our parks – which we know are a strong driver for Delaware’s tourism economy. Our sincere thanks go to Representative John Atkins, prime sponsor of the bill, and Senator David McBride for their leadership and support of this legislation.”
The funds generated by the new plates will be used to support day-to-day operations and maintenance – particularly at the state’s ocean parks. Numbered tags were issued by DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation until the practice was discontinued in 1994, but the tags have remained popular with collectors and surf fishing enthusiasts.
The Division of Parks & Recreation is currently developing the process for administering the program to implement the fulfillment for the plates. This will benefit both customers and the Division of Parks & Recreation by entering all customer information needed to purchase the plates into a database that will streamline and shorten the purchasing of a surf tag in the future.
It will also help the Division retain important surf fishing permit user information for enforcement purposes. The new operating system to create the new low digit tags is scheduled to receive requests in late spring/early summer. The ability to auction the plates will be included in a Request for Proposals being developed by Government Support Services.
I received an invitation to the bill 348 signing from Governor Jack Markell’s office and it was a pleasure to be a part, if only as a spectator. I got to see a lot of folks I know, and meet new folks from parks administration and Legislative hall. It was a beautiful day for this bill signing. Even Governor Markell got into the beach spirit and was barefoot in the sand for the presentation. John Atkins spearheaded this new bill, and I think it is great idea for those that want to have a numbered surf fishing tag again.
I am particularly fond of the name of the tag … Delaware Surf Fishing. David Small Secretary of DNREC, kicked off the presentation with remarks, then Representative John Atkins, then Old Inlet Bait and Tackle owner Butch Evans, and then Governor Markell took the sand box. He was certainly in the spirit of things and told all the reps they should all be barefoot in the sand. I was impressed. This is the second presentation I have attended in the governors presence, the last being the Charles W.Cullen bridge dedication. It was great to see the Governor again, and a big kudos to John Atkins for bringing this bill to fruition. John also gave me one of the pens used to sign the bill and I was flattered for that gift. The new tags look great, and again I love the name. The regular generic tags will always be available. One thing that will be available in the future are tags for park access parking only, and they will come out at a later date. The cost of the new tags is not set in stone and I do know they can not be sold for more than $500 by the state. I had a great time and want to thank everyone for inviting me today to the bill signing. I took a tour of the lifesaving station museum, check it out when you get a chance there is a lot of great history on display. Of course afterwards I just had to go to the beach. The waves are steady and heavy, with a bit of the beach carved up and you can expect to see that all weekend. Bluefish and dogfish today on mullet, and a friend caught a stargazer at 3Rs on sand fleas. See you in the sandbox.