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May 5, 2009 7:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Thiele proposes canceling state fishing licenses for 2010

May 5, 2009 7:29 PM

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle introduced legislation this week that would repeal a proposal for New York State to require licenses for saltwater fishing.

Assemblyman Thiele said it was unfair of the state to put an additional financial burden on fishermen in hard economic times.

“Fishing in our local oceans, bays and creeks is considered a birthright by our residents that goes back to colonial times,” Mr. Thiele said in a statement this week. “Today, recreational fishing is a critical sector in New York State’s economy... To impose this new financial burden on this important economic engine in the midst of the worst recession in decades is simply bad policy.”

The state has required licenses for fishing in freshwater for decades, but the saltwater license would be the first of its kind. Federal fisheries management agencies have required that all states implement registration programs for saltwater fishermen by 2010 but do not require that the mandated registration carry a fee.

The proposed New York State license will cost resident fishermen $10 for a season or $4 for a one-day permit. Charter and party boats can buy blanket licenses for $400 that cover all their paying customers.

The state adopted the new fishing license requirement as part of its 2009 budget. The license requirement would go into effect this fall, and fishermen would be required to have licenses by January 1, 2010. The state has estimated the program will raise $3 million for marine conservation work, though many fishermen’s advocacy groups have pointed to wording that would allow the state to keep undisclosed portions of the money for other uses.

Assemblyman Thiele noted that saltwater fishermen already pour $812 million into the New York State economy each year, spurring $126 million in tax revenue and supporting more than 5,300 jobs statewide.

michael wright

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