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June 18, 2010

RFA praises NY senate's vote to repeal saltwater license

S6250 approved overwhelmingly by New York senate - assembly version still stalled
By Rfa

Albany, NY (06/18/2010) - Senator Brian X. Foley (D - District 3) yesterday announced that the Senate version of the bill to repeal New York's saltwater fishing license was approved by a vote of 60-1 on the floor of the Senate, with one abstention.   The Foley-sponsored legislation (S6250) would create a registration system for recreational saltwater fishing which will track the name, address, date of birth and telephone number for each resident engaging in saltwater fishing. Each person who registers with the system will receive an identification number that is unique to him or her. Residents will be able to register for the system via the internet or a telephone number, as provided by the commissioner. This new registry would take the place of the saltwater fishing license that was mandated as part of last year's state budget.
 
"Today is a great day for recreational fishing in the State of New York," Senator Foley said on June 16 following the Senate vote. "Residents should be able to partake in recreational saltwater fishing without being forced to purchase a license to do so. When this license was created, myself and my colleagues were assured the money collected would be used to benefit the fishermen who were purchasing the license. When that turned out not to be the case, I immediately introduced legislation to do away with the licensing requirement and create a system that will allow us to meet the federal guidelines without placing an undue burden on our recreational fishermen. I strongly urge the assembly to pass this important piece of legislation so that it can be signed into law as soon as possible so that all New Yorkers, but in particular Long Islanders, can benefit from being able to fish our coastal waters without breaking the bank."
 
"This is tremendous news for fishing fans across Long Island," said United States Senator Charles Schumer. "The bottom line is the current system places far too great a burden on Long Island anglers and charter boats who are already struggling day to day. A total repeal of licensing fee requirements is one step closer to reality thanks to Senator Foley's efforts. Now we need the Assembly to act immediately to keep fishing free."  An Assembly version of license repeal legislation (A09234) has currently stalled in the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.
 
"The New York saltwater license is a broken program built on broken promises, and we're thankful to Senator Foley for pushing this license repeal through the New York Senate on behalf of our recreational fishing community," said Jim Hutchinson, Managing Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. "We're halfway there, and if we can now get the Assembly to understand this saltwater user fee is simply another unfair tax with misappropriated funds, perhaps we can see this unreasonable burden on the New York recreational fishing community lifted once and for all."
 
"Senate Bill 6250 is a perfect example of how New York can fulfill the federal registry requirements while not forcing onerous constraints on less-fortunate fishermen unable to afford an extra fee to fish the ocean," Hutchinson said, explaining the registration requirements outlined within the federal Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act call for a simple registry of angler names and contacts, precisely as spelled out in S6250.  "There is no federal mandate for a state saltwater fee and we thank Mr. Foley for recognizing that fact," Hutchinson added.
 
"Until our state officials can promise New York anglers open access to coastal waters without continued closures to state parks, beaches and fishing seasons, then this license is nothing more than a tax without any returns," said John Mantione of J&J Sports in Patchogue and spokesman for the New York Fishing Tackle Trades Association. "Look at New Jersey, they have much more liberal fluke limits there and those fishermen aren't paying any user fees to fish. We would like to thank Senator Foley for supporting the recreational fishing community and working to repeal this needless tax."
 
The registry would satisfy the requirements the state must meet under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act, which says they must provide certain background information on individuals who partake in recreational saltwater fishing. States that do not comply with these requirements in some way must require residents to purchase fishing licenses from the federal government.