Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why does PA have a saltwater recreational angler registry?
    The U.S. Congress, through the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, required the federal government to create a national registry of saltwater anglers.  Effective January 1, 2010 anglers who target or catch shad, striped bass, and river herring (also known as alewife and blueback herring) from the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or in the Delaware River Estuary were required to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry Program administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Please see https://www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/ for the current registration fee. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) entered into an agreement with the NOAA exempting anglers who hold a valid Pennsylvania fishing license from being required to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry. This exemption remained in effect until the PFBC establishes its own free registration system for applicable anglers.

    The PFBC implemented the Pennsylvania Saltwater Angler Registry Program (PA-SARP) effective January 1, 2012 through 30 Pa.C.S. §63.55. It is unlawful for a person required under 30 Pa.C.S. Chapter 27 (relating to fishing licenses) to procure a resident fishing license, a nonresident fishing license, a senior resident lifetime fishing license or an annual senior resident fishing license to fish for shad, striped bass or river herring in the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or the Delaware Estuary unless that person has obtained a saltwater angler registration from the Commission or registered with the National Saltwater Angler Registry Program administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


  2. Why does the federal government need a registry of saltwater anglers?
    An angler registry will facilitate better recreational fishing data in two ways: first it creates a database of recreational fishermen; and second, it allows for an improved survey pool. Instead of asking a random sample of coastal U.S. residents if they've gone fishing, an angler registry would target only those who have identified themselves as saltwater anglers.
    Click here to view the Straight Talk article by Executive Director John Arway from the September/October 2011 Angler & Boater Magazine for more information about the Saltwater Registry.


  3. When will a PA registry requirement go into effect?
    The registration requirement is effective January 1, 2012.

  4. How do I register?
    The only means to register with PA-SARP is an on-line, web enabled registry. All anglers can register at www.pa-sarp.pa.gov.

  5. What information does the federal government need from the state?
    The federal government needs enough information to contact recreational anglers in order to conduct a survey. More specific information about minimum data requirements can be found at https://www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/.

  6. Does Pennsylvania’s registry meet the federal registry requirements?
    Yes. Pennsylvania’s program is consistent with all federal requirements.

  7. I already signed up for the federal registry; do I still need to register in PA?
    No.  All anglers must either register through the PFBC’s free on-line system (PA-SARP); or register, for a fee, with the National Saltwater Angler Registry administered by NOAA; or meet the saltwater angler registration requirements of another state.

  8. I already registered with NOAA; will the federal registration fee be refunded now that I can register in PA for free?
    The federal registration fee is non-refundable.

  9. Are there any exemptions for the PA-SARP requirement?
    Yes. Anyone under the age of 16 or possesses a valid registration with the National Saltwater Angler Registry administered by NOAA or from another exempted state is not required to register through PA-SARP.

  10. Why must I provide my PALS Customer Identification Number (CID) in order to register?
    The PALS Customer Identification Number (CID), as well as date of birth, is used to create a unique identification for each angler and also establish verification to ensure that a person only registers once.

  11. Why is the registration limited to only web-based?
    The PFBC developed an on-line webpage for registration in order to minimize cost and expedite implementation.  This provides 24/7 access for anglers. Registrants can go on-line to register and print their registration at anytime, day or night.

  12. I do not have a computer. Is there a number I can call or is there another way to register through PA-SARP?
    No, if you do not have a computer, you must register via the federal registration system by calling toll-free 1-888-MRIP-411 (888-674-7411).

  13. I can register on-line but do not have a printer and do not have e-mail access. What should I do?
    Individual anglers are required to have their registry certificate with them and available for inspection if asked by a law enforcement officer. If you do not have a printer available when you register, you can retrieve a duplicate copy by re-accessing the registry program to print out the registration at a later time.

  14. What if I have a problem with the website or my registration?
    Questions or comments can be directed via the The Fishing Hole at www.fishandboat.com/AboutUs/Pages/ContactUs.aspx. You can use the form there to send a message to the Commission. The Registry will also provide guidance throughout the registration process to reduce or eliminate any user difficulties when registering.

  15. If I lose my registration, can I get a duplicate?
    Duplicate copies can be retrieved by re-accessing the registry.  However, registrations can only be used by the registrant and cannot be shared with anyone else.

  16. What happens with my registration information?
    The PFBC will send the required information to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for inclusion with data from other coastal states so they can conduct their surveys. The contact information will be utilized by the NMFS to contact random saltwater anglers or for-hire boats in the registry to ask questions about their recent saltwater fishing activity.   The information is confidential and will only be provided to the NMFS as required for Pennsylvania to maintain its exempted status.

  17. Will the registry really improve saltwater fisheries?
    Yes. More accurate catch statistics will enable agencies to improve management of marine fisheries in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Scientifically sound marine fishery management will result in sustainable fish populations and enhanced recreational fishing opportunities.

  18. Does the PA registry exempt me from registering with the federal registry?
    Yes, as long as you are a recreational angler.  The PA registry is consistent with all federal requirements.

  19. What waters are covered under the registry?
    Pennsylvania anglers who target or caught shad, striped bass and river herring from the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or in the Delaware Estuary are required to register. A list of waters located in the Delaware River Estuary can be found here.

  20. I have a freshwater fishing license and fish in tidal freshwaters of the Delaware River; do I still need to register?
    Yes. The PA-SARP is consistent with the federal registry which includes all tidal waters.  A Pennsylvania fishing license does not meet the federal registry requirements for tidal waters.

  21. How much will this cost next year?
    The enabling regulation directed PFBC to establish a PA-SARP including a free registry program.

  22. Will I need to register if I plan to fish from the shore?
    Yes. If you are fishing recreationally for fish in Pennsylvania’s tidal portion of the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or in the Delaware Estuary, you will need to register.

  23. Will I need to register if I fish on a private or public pier?
    Yes. If you are fishing recreationally for fish in Pennsylvania’s tidal portion of the Delaware River below Trenton Falls or in the Delaware Estuary, you will need to register.

  24. I have a commercial fishing license; do I still need to register if I go fishing for fun?
    Yes. If you are recreationally fishing, you need to register.

  25. If I register, can I transfer my card to another person if I'm not using it?
    No. It is unlawful to transfer a registration to any other individual.

  26. Do I need to register if I am not fishing, but simply helping my child, who is under 16, learn to fish?
    Yes, if you do anything that might be construed as fishing. For example, if you bait the hook and toss the line, you are fishing. If you take the fish off the hook for the child, you are fishing. However, if you just sit in the boat, don't touch any of the tackle, and simply observe, you are not fishing. If a law enforcement officer asks for your registration you will have to prove that you aren't fishing. To be safe, we suggest registering.

  27. If, at the last minute, I decide to bring a guest on my boat for a day of fishing, must he/she register for one day?
    Yes. Registration is required for anyone fishing in tidal waters. Your guest will be able to go online to register and print a certificate at any time, day or night. Please note that registered anglers must still possess a valid Pennsylvania fishing license.

  28. If I register can I keep all the fish I catch?
    No, you will be held to the seasons, sizes and creel limits. Additional information can be found in the Fishing Summary Booklet. Please note that River herring (also known as alewife and blueback herring) and hickory shad (endangered species) are regulated with a closed fishing season, year-round. These species are not to be targeted. If caught, they are to be immediately released.

  29. Can I register for my entire family?
    Yes. You will need the PALS Customer Identification Number (CID) as well as other required information for those family members who are 16 years or older.