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Fish Free in NY Coastal Waters

NYDEC Makes No Cost Angler Registry Information Official....

While most New York members of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and New York Sportfishing Federation (Federation) were already aware of the rules, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) made it official yesterday by announcing that all saltwater anglers are required to register in the state's new, no-fee saltwater fishing registry.

DEC developed the registry in compliance with recent legislation that suspended the fee associated with the state's marine recreational fishing license for two years. According to the DEC release, "the no-fee registration system will be used by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and interstate fisheries regulators to set harvest quotas for marine species," though RFA explains the rationale behind the national registry requirements is more directly related to improved science.

"For decades, third party contractors hired by the federal government to collect recreational harvest data have used coastal phonebooks to contact anglers at home about fishing effort," said RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson, Jr., himself a resident of Queens.  "No fisheries surveyor has ever contacted me at home about my fishing habits, nor have any of my neighbors who fish, so there's no disputing the fact that NMFS' surveyors have not been doing the best job of contacting our saltwater anglers," added Hutchinson who is also president of the Federation. 

The new registration system fulfills a federal mandate to develop a database of New York marine recreational anglers to improve federal recreational fishing surveys about the number and size of their catch. This information is vital since it is used to set quotas, size and bag limits, and fishing seasons in subsequent years. DEC anticipates this new data will provide accurate information for future management of the coastal fishery and better integration into federal reporting systems.

"This new database of contacts will at some point replace the antiquated phonebook system currently used by NMFS estimate angler catch data, so it's important that all New York saltwater anglers participate in this registry program in order to help improve the survey data," Hutchinson said.  "RFA-NY and the Federation are of course grateful to the Cuomo administration and those state legislators who have fought tirelessly to remove the user fee associated with this new federal registry requirement.  This is an angler database for coordinating federal surveys, not a funding mechanism for state bureaucracy," he added.

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