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Thiele: Legislature Should Repeal Saltwater Fishing License Now

Originally Posted: May 17, 2010

Sag Harbor - In the wake of the recent State Supreme Court decision dated May 3, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) this week called upon the State Assembly to repeal the State Saltwater Fishing License Law. Thiele has introduced A.9475 which would repeal the license and fee and replace it with a free one time registry program. Senator Ken LaValle has introduced the same legislation in the State Senate.

On May 3, State Supreme Court Justice Patrick Sweeney denied a motion by the State DEC to dismiss the lawsuit brought by seven Long Island towns including Southampton, East Hampton, Southold, and Shelter Island challenging the law and granted a preliminary injunction to the Towns preventing the State DEC from enforcing the law. In his decision Justice Sweeney stated, "The problem with the Commissioner's (DEC) argument is that the federal government simply wants to collect data. There is no mandate to have a saltwater fishing license. Indeed upon oral argument of these motions, counsel for the DEC agreed that the statistical data the Federal government seeks could have been gathered under the current Motor Vehicle License Statue without the need for a separate marine fishing license."

Thiele stated, "While questions of fact remain concerning the type of fish which are subject to the state law, the specific town fishing regulations, and the exact boundaries or waterways over which the Towns claim jurisdiction, it is clear in his ruling against the State that Justice Sweeney accepts the premise that the Towns have jurisdiction over their waterways and that the State went far beyond the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act. As I stated last year when I voted against this law, this had nothing to do with the conservation. It was a money grab, pure and simple. Instead of wasting valuable state revenues on fruitless litigation and burdening the fishing industry, the Legislature should act promptly to repeal the license and replace it with a free registry, which is the only thing the federal government required in the first place."

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