Beware of costly New York waters
New Jersey anglers who drift across Raritan Bay into New York waters will have more to worry about in 2009 than remembering that state’s summer flounder regulations.
Gov. Paterson’s proposed budget includes a $40 saltwater fishing license for non-residents.
Raritan Bay fishermen are vividly aware of the New York marine enforcement agents’ merciless harassing of New Jersey weakfish, fluke and striped bass fishermen who inadvertently drift into New York waters.
The fines are steep — anglers paid as much as $300 to $500 for short weakfish violations — and there were few warnings, only tickets. The New York budget deficit needed that out-of-state money.
Violations of a saltwater fishing license regulation might cost New Jersey anglers a week’s pay, and a lot more, if they have a legal New Jersey fish in possession that is not up to New York minimums.
It is a mistake easily made, if you do not have or are not paying attention to a GPS unit. There is no string of flags marking the boundary line.
The invisible line runs from a marker roughly midway between Laurence Harbor and the tip of Staten Island to Romer Shoal Light. All of Raritan Reach west of a point opposite Point Comfort is in New York waters.
New York anglers will be saddled with a $19 annual saltwater fishing license, and they can bet, if California is any example and the history of taxes is any instructor, this is only the beginning.
Paterson’s proposal is not the only blow for fishermen. The governor has proposed 137 tax hikes, and among them is a five percent luxury tax on boats costing more than $200,000.
James A. Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said the tax on boats will hurt the already staggering boat building and sales industry.
“This will be a blow to the boating industry,” Donofrio said. “The last time the federal government tried that, it destroyed boat sales. The industry really suffered.
“It wasn’t long before they repealed the tax; now Paterson is bringing it back,” he said. “Someone who is thinking about buying a boat — and you’d be surprised how many boats cost that much today — will go somewhere else or not buy.”
The difference on a bigger boat is substantial. A 43-foot Sea Ray Sundancer on display at the New York Boat Show today will sell for $725,000. Under Paterson’s proposal that price tag would jump to $821,968.
The show, which winds up its run this afternoon, is not drawing the expected crowds and sales are apparently down.
Karen Wall, managing editor of the New Jersey edition of The Fisherman magazine, said she has been at the show every day, and it is not like the old days.
“The crowds aren’t the same,” she said. “You see little knots of people coming in — it’s like the traffic lights changed — but not the big crowds.”
Ellen Hopkins, a spokeswoman for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said the governor’s proposed tax on larger boats will actually work against the economy and the industry.
“It is going to hurt the state and will force thousands of people out of a job,” she said, referring to the boating industry.
“Gov. Paterson isn’t stopping there,” Donofrio said. “He’s establishing a trout and salmon stamp on top of the freshwater fishing license. This will be $10 to start with, but bureaucrats looking for money on their runaway spending spree will soon increase that. Maybe they’ll get creative with a fluke stamp, a blackfish stamp or a winter flounder stamp.”
Paterson wants more money from others who enjoy the outdoors. He has proposed an increase in state park fees for camping, cabin rentals and marina usage. Some of these fees had already been increased as late as 2007.
The state’s budget will balloon to $121.1 billion, and spending will increase by $1.4 billion. The tax package hike is the largest in the state’s history.
Now, the governor admits that his plan will not cure the budget deficit, but, in fact, the deficit will grow to $5.8 billion by 2011-12 fiscal year.
When a New Jersey resident drifts into New York waters without a New York license in 2012 they may confiscate his boat in payment of the fine.
Entry filed under: Dive In, Get Wet, Public Waterfront, Region. Tags: angler, boat tax, boating, boundary line, fishermen, fishing, National Marine Manufacturers Association, New Jersey, New York State, Raritan Bay, Recreational Fishing Alliance, saltwater fishing license, summer flounder regulations, weakfish.