Since DEM's Online Licensing System Launched Last Month, nearly 8,000 People Have Bought 15,000 Licenses and Permits. With Opening Day on April 14, DEM Reminds Anglers to Carry a Printed Copy of Their License and Permit Documents with Them.
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging anglers who have not yet obtained their freshwater license through the new online licensing system to do so before Saturday to ensure they're able to get on the water for the first day of trout fishing season. Opening Day of the season, set for April 14, is celebrated annually by more than 40,000 anglers across the state.
The online system, found at www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish, was developed to provide customers streamlined, on-demand access to the licensing process. The system replaces paper-based license issuances and builds upon the current offering of online fishing licenses to include hunting licenses, permits, tags, and stamps. A customer's first transaction through the new system establishes a Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing ID, or RIHFID (pronounced Rye-fid). This identifier is unique to each customer and can be used to quickly purchase additional licenses and permits, reprint lost or damaged license documents, and renew licenses in subsequent years. The system can be accessed 24/7, allowing customers to manage their accounts and add new permits and licenses from the comfort of home or on the go.
Since the system launched March 1, nearly 8,000 people have used it to obtain a license or permit with close to 11,000 licenses and nearly 3,500 permits issued. Currently, resident and non-resident customers can purchase freshwater fishing, recreational saltwater fishing, hunting, and combination freshwater fishing and hunting licenses, as well as trout stamps and spring turkey permits. Additional licenses and permits, including deer, migratory bird, and game bird permits, are scheduled to go on sale in the coming months.
Customers have told DEM that one of the biggest benefits of the new system is the convenience of being able to consolidate multiple licenses, permits, tags, and stamps into one document that's accessible through their online RIHFID account. At the same time, however, DEM reminds hunters and anglers that the law requires members of the public to have a printed copy of their license and permit documents on their person when fishing or hunting. Although license holders may use their smart phones to show DEM Environmental Police Officers their documentation, carrying printed copies is safer because cell phone batteries die and cellular service can be unreliable in remote areas. The penalty for freshwater fishing without a license is a civil violation that is subject to a fine of $100 for each offense.
"Our new online licensing system is making Rhode Island's diverse outdoor recreational activities more accessible and it's been exciting to see all the sign-ups," said Dean Hoxsie, Chief of DEM's Division of Law Enforcement. "We also want to remind anglers to carry a copy of their license document and Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing ID with them, especially on Opening Day. Our Environmental Police Officers will be patrolling to keep the public safe, enforce state freshwater fishing regulations to conserve our natural resources for future generations, and locate unlicensed individuals who are violating the regulations. Let's keep Opening Day fun for everyone by allowing our officers to check licenses and creel quickly."
Whether purchased online or at a vendor, the customer's system profile will update every time a new license, permit, tag and/or stamp is purchased. Every completed transaction in the system will produce a printable document that lists all active licenses and permits, including a trout stamp certification. Customers eligible for no-cost licenses – such as Rhode Island residents over 65, veterans with 100% disability status, and persons with 100% disability status – can select a no-cost license in the list of available licenses in the system. If a license is damaged or lost, anglers can reprint their license at no cost by logging into the system using their email or RIHFID number.
DEM is stocking about 80,000 brook, brown, and rainbow trout into Rhode Island ponds and streams in preparation for the freshwater fishing season. New this year, hatchery-raised tiger trout are being stocked at four of Rhode Island's most popular fishing locations. These beautiful and aggressive tiger trout are a hybrid of a brown and brook trout and provide an exciting angling experience. A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp certification are required to keep or possess trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or "fly-fishing only" area. The daily creel and possession limit for trout is five from April 14, 2018, through November 30, 2018, and two from December 1, 2018, through February 28, 2019. The use of external felt soled or any natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing water in any freshwaters in Rhode Island is strictly prohibited due to the elevated risks of spreading aquatic invasive organisms that these kinds of waders carry. This includes any waters shared with adjacent states in which Rhode Island fishing regulations apply.
License fees are $18 for Rhode Island residents and current members of the Armed Forces, $33 for a combination hunting and fishing license, $35 for non-residents, $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license, and a Trout Conservation Stamp certification costs $5.50. Licenses are free for anglers over 65 (trout stamp not required) – as well as for those with a 100-percent disability.
There are no additional fees for purchases made online or at DEM. If customers make purchases at a sales agent, there is an enhanced access fee of $2 per license and $0.50 per permit for residents; for non-residents, the additional fee will be $3 per license and $1.00 per permit. Enhanced access fees are used to offset the administrative costs to bill, track, and account transactions at sales agent locations such as bait shops and sporting goods stores, and to support system development, operation, support, and maintenance. Implementation of the new system is part of efforts to encourage people to head outdoors and enjoy the numerous recreational opportunities made possible by the sound management of Rhode Island's natural resources and statewide efforts to improve customer service and streamline processes. DEM has used the Lean process, a business process improvement method championed by Governor Gina M. Raimondo that eliminates waste, adds value, and leads to a culture of continuous improvement. The enhanced licensing system is the outcome of a Lean process held in 2015 on ways to improve administrative efficiency by streamlining recreational fishing and hunting license issuances. It was developed by Rhode Island Interactive, LLC (RII). RII previously partnered with DEM to issue online freshwater fishing license, which has been active for over 10 years, and the online and vendor based system to issue saltwater fishing licenses since 2010.
Answers to frequently asked questions on the new licensing system are available at www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish. The site also acts as a portal to help plan adventures that make the most of Rhode Island's great outdoors. The site links to information on hunting and fishing opportunities, trails and natural areas through a variety of maps, as well as certification information for hunter safety and boating safety.
For more information about the online Hunting and Fishing system, contact Margaret McGrath at DEM's Office of Boating Registration and Licensing Office at 401-222-6647 Ext. 2102 or email@example.com.
For information about hunting and fishing in Rhode Island, please contact DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife at (401) 789-0281 or DEM.DFW@dem.ri.gov.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.