RFA-NY Members Urged to JOIN Friday Fax Campaign

Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime

RFA-NY Members Urged to JOIN Friday Fax Campaign

Saltwater License Repeal Effort Goes Into Weekend Overdrive

March 17, 2011 - Efforts to repeal New York's saltwater fishing license and replace it with a federally recognized free saltwater recreational fishing registry are quickly moving forward in the New York state Senate.  Introduced before the 2011-2012 session on February 28th by Sen. Lee Zeldin (R- Shirley), Senate Bill #3638 would amend the environmental conservation law in relation to establishing a registration system for saltwater recreational fishing, essentially repealing that part which mandates that a fee to fish be levied on saltwater anglers. 


S3638 has already cleared the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee and now carries the cosponsor support of senators Greg Ball (R-Patterson), Kemp Hannon (R-Westbury), Owen Johnson (R-Babylon), Bill Larkin (R-Cornwall-on-Hudson), Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Tom Libous (R-Binghamton), Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) and Jack Martins (R-Mineola).  The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is hoping that S3638 moves quickly through the budgetary process and is ultimately voted successfully out of the Senate in the coming weeks, and is also helping spearhead a weekend fax campaign starting Friday morning to encourage the Assembly committee to follow the Senate lead. 


"RFA-NY members are thankful for our Senate champions in spearheading efforts to repeal this broken law, but now it's time for the real grassroots efforts to begin," said RFA Managing Director and President of the New York Sportfishing Federation, Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  "If the saltwater anglers of New York are really angry about being forced to pay for reduced service, loss of access, and fiscal mismanagement by out-of-touch bureaucrats, then they need to join together and push to promote the Assembly version of this repeal bill."


Introduced earlier this month by Assembly sponsor Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), Assembly Bill #6169 is the companion to S3638, and just like the Senate version requires the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to administer and maintain a registry of persons who engage in saltwater recreational fishing, collecting the name, address, date of birth and telephone number of each person registered, issuing a unique user identification number.  A6169 would also repeal the user fee required for anglers to have that information collected by the state, and would also provide a refund to those anglers who've already paid a lifetime fee to fish in New York coastal waters.


"Anglers and business owners who want to see this license repeal bill move need to contact Assemblyman Sweeney and urge him to have this bill discussed at the Environment Committee, it's imperative," Hutchinson said.  "The recreational fishing sector needs to step up and be heard and March 18th is the day to do so."  RFA is hoping a coordinated fax campaign beginning Friday morning can go a long way in getting the message out.  


The Assembly version of the license repeal legislation is co-sponsored by James D. Conte (R-Huntington Station), Michael J. Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), Al Graf (R-Holbrook, Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham), Tom McKevitt (R-East Meadow), Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head), Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue), Andrew P. Raia (R-East Northport), Joseph S. Saladino (R-Massapequa), Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), and Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach).  While S3638 is nearing its way a vote before the full senate, Hutchinson said A6169 is now stuck in the Assembly Environment Committee chaired by Assembly Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst).


RFA-NY and the New York Sportfishing Federation are urging anglers to speak up against the broken license by signing the online petition to support the repeal efforts, which can be found at www.nysenate.gov/webform/join-fight-restore-your-right-fish-free.


New York's saltwater anglers are also urged to download, print, sign and fax the following letter to Assemblyman Sweeney, urging him to move A6169 out of the Assembly Environment Committee (www.joinrfa.org/press/NYLicRepeal.pdf) and on to the full Assembly for a vote. 


"When this license was implemented, the first thing the Paterson administration did was offloaded DEC salaries out of the general budget and put the onus on saltwater sportsmen to cover staffing responsibilities previously managed by our state government," Hutchinson said.  "The license proponents can spin it any way they want, but if constituent user fees are going almost exclusively cover salary increases and staff attrition in the coming years, it's a sure-thing that our license fees will have to be increased to cover the deficit, that's quite clear." 


DEC insiders have long argued that saltwater license sales result in increased federal funding, but Hutchinson said the paper trail doesn't support such an argument.  "If implementing a new saltwater user fee was supposed to lead to more federal funds, why have we seen a $300,000 drop in federal Sport Fish Restoration Funds to New York in each of the last two years since the license was implemented?" 


"The answer is, these fees and poor regulations are keeping fishermen off the water, and contributing to lost state and federal taxes, and it's time to fix the problem," he said.  


RFA has also questioned whether or not the New York DEC was able to secure additional grant funding in Fiscal Year 2010 through the Interstate Marine Fisheries Commission as it was made available. "The federal government offered $2.5 million in grants last year to help support states with their registration initiatives, but it's our understanding that the New York DEC never made any attempt at collecting that free money," Hutchinson said. 


"This license has not been a good deal for New York anglers, and like any other broken consumer good, it needs to be returned and exchanged for a more appropriate product, which in this case is a no cost angler registry." 

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