Legislation To Create a Free One-Time Registration Program To Replace License
New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) introduced two legislative initiatives relating to the issue of saltwater fishing licenses in the State of New York. The first bill would postpone the effective date of the license program until July 1, 2010. The second bill would replace the license with a one-time, free saltwater angler registry program.
The saltwater fishing license was approved as part of the 2009-10 State Budget in April and went into effect on October 1, 2009. The program would have generated $3 million annually for the State. Thiele opposed the legislation in the Assembly and has worked closely with local Town Trustees in bringing litigation to enjoin the fishing license requirement. A temporary restraining order (TRO) was granted in State Supreme Court enjoining the implementation of the new law, which is still in effect. The case has been adjourned until November 19 and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has declined to represent the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in the saltwater fishing license injunction case.
“I debated against and voted in opposition to this ill-considered licensing requirement,” Thiele stated, “Not only does this law infringe on the traditional right to fish, it is an impediment to a major segment of Long Island’s recreation fishing industry during these hard economic times – the worst recession since the 1930s. Further, efforts to implement the new law have been woefully inadequate.
“Attorney General Cuomo demonstrated simple common sense in refusing to defend a very bad idea which was poorly implemented,” Thiele continued, “This law would have devastating consequences on New York anglers and the recreational fishing industry as a whole. I have worked diligently with local officials to enjoin the law.”
Thiele’s legislation would first delay any law from taking effect until July 1, 2010. This will give the State the needed time to repeal the license and replace it with a free registration program. The second bill would repeal the license and fee and replace it with a free one-time registration requirement in order to comply with the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006. This bill is similar to a law adopted in Delaware to meet the federal mandate. New Jersey is currently considering such a program and United States Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has endorsed such a concept for New York State.
Thiele had requested the Governor add the legislation to his special session agenda that would delay the enactment of the fishing license law until July 1, 2010. As mentioned prior, this would provide the opportunity to reach a compromise that would eliminate the license and replace it with a free one-time registration program, which is required by federal law.
In a letter dated, October 22 to Governor David Paterson, Thiele requested that the matter be placed on the Special Session agenda for November 10, however the Governor’s proclamation for a special session failed to include the saltwater fishing license issue.
“Governor Paterson has shown a complete lack of understanding in recognizing the importance of the fishing industry to New York State,” Thiele challenged, “First, he vetoed legislation that would have created a fuel tax exemption for commercial fishermen. Second, he cut the necessary resources in 2008 for the administration of the conditional shellfish program. Now, he has failed to act on the saltwater fishing license issue. The concept of taxing important industries in New York State to close our budget gap will only delay our economic recovery. The Legislature must fill the void by passing legislation repealing the license and replacing it with a simple, free one-time registration requirement.”