Harkins, Wentling measure to cast wider net for Lake Erie fishing permit funding options lands on governor’s desk

ERIE, June 26 - On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House once again approved a measure introduced by Reps. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, and Parke Wentling, R-Crawford/Erie/Lawrence/Mercer, which would broaden the allocation of proceeds from Lake Erie fishing permits or stamps issued by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. 

“Put simply, the purpose of our legislation is to expand the types of fishing-related projects, such as marina improvements, installing additional fish cleaning stations and many other angler attracting incentives, that can be funded through revenue generated by the sale of Lake Erie fishing permits,” said Wentling. “Once enacted, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission would have greater flexibility in determining the best ways to invest these funds to improve and expand public fishing opportunities at Lake Erie, Presque Isle Bay and their tributaries.”

 Originally introduced as House Bill 1187, the language of the bill was inserted into House Bill 808 which was concurred by the House and sent to the governor’s desk.

 “We have been working on this legislation for the last six years and it is great to finally see some light at the end of the tunnel,” said Harkins. “It has been a pleasure to work with the many stakeholders to make sure that their wishes and concerns are considered. There is always a great need along the shores of Lake Erie to make sure our sportsmen and women have the best opportunities available.”

Current law restricts the use of funds from sales of this combination trout/salmon Lake Erie fishing permit to habitat and fishing access improvement.

 “Enactment of this bill will provide greater latitude for the use of the money raised from the permits,” said Sen.  Dan Laughlin (R-Erie). “The funds will stay here in Erie, which is good. What’s even better is that the revenues can be invested in a variety of ways that improve the overall fishing experience for local anglers and the thousands of others who travel here to enjoy the sport. That’s a win not just for anglers, but also for our local businesses and economy as well.”

Lake Erie stamps have generated roughly $600,000 to $700,000 in annual revenue since 1994.

“The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission would like to express our sincere appreciation to Rep. Wentling, Rep. Harkins, Sen. Laughlin and the rest of the Erie Delegation for their support of this legislation,” said PFBC Executive Director Timothy D. Schaeffer. “This important measure will give our agency the flexibility we need to not only meet, but exceed, the expectations of anglers in the Lake Erie watershed. We’d also like to thank our local partners, including the S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie, the Erie PA Charter Boat Association, the PA Steelhead Association and former PFBC Commissioner Ed Mascharka, who remained dedicated to seeing this legislation become a reality.”