Raleigh, N.C. — Every time a coastal fishing license is sold in North Carolina, a portion of the money is supposed to help improve fishing on the coast, but some recreational anglers say the state is reeling in some of that revenue for other purposes.

When the fishing license law was passed a decade ago, it clearly stated the state Division of Marine Fisheries “may not authorize the disbursement of endowment investment income to establish positions without specific authorization from the General Assembly.”

“There’s been clear intent, I think, to go in and raid that fund,” recreational fisherman Scott Griffin said recently.

Fishing licenses cost anywhere from $5 for 10-day privileges up to $250 for a lifetime pass, and they generate more than $4 million in revenue a year fro the Marine Resources Fund.

Of the $45.9 million the licenses have brought in since the program’s inception, records obtained by WRAL Investigates show that $11.7 million – more than a quarter – has gone to DMF salaries. The records also show that the employees paid with fishing license funds have received annual 3 percent pay increases – at a time when other state employees received little or no bumps in pay.

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