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
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
"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."
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
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
"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."