For years, fishermen have filled out quick forms and walked out of Sporting Goods stores with their fishing licenses. Now, the Department of Fish and Game has spent $23.5 million on a computer system that store owners say is complicated and time consuming and will cause them to spend 20 or 30 minutes to enter data before issuance of each fishing license. Store owners are upset.
Richard Reyes is Fish and Game’s Program Manager for the new Automated License Data System. He said that there are 45 businesses that sell fishing licenses in Inyo-Mono. Some 20 of those will not continue under the computer system. Dave Smith at Culver’s Sporting Goods on Bishop’s Main St. said that the difficult to operate system would take at least 20 minutes per person to enter data. “We just can’t do it,” he said.
Dale Miller of Mac’s Sporting Goods said he is upset about this. He’s been selling fishing licenses for 34 years with no problems. Now he would have to hire three people to handle Fish and Game’s computer system. He would lose money on the proposition.
Miller called Fish and Game’s plan a “disaster. So many people are upset,” he said. The only positive prospect, said Miller, is that in 2011 there will be a way to go on line to buy a fishing license.
Asked why Fish and Game will spend $23.5 million on a computer system when the State is broke, Reyes said they need a database to pass on to the federal government which will conduct surveys on ocean fishing. Reyes claims this is the law. He also said, “Who does business with paper and pencils this day and age.”
Asked if the State plans to sell the database they collect, Reyes insisted the answer is no. He pointed to the DMV and said Fish and Game just wants to operate as they do, with computers.
Reyes said Fish and Game brought training sessions to Bishop in October to help people learn the new computers. For some it was incomplete since Fish and Game changed the training location and failed to tell people.
Unhappy business owners wish they could continue to sell licenses but say Fish and Game’s computers could wreck their business.