- New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr
. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) reported that the State Legislature has reached an agreement to repeal the Saltwater Fishing License enacted in 2009. Under the agreement, the license law will be transformed into a registration requirement to meet federal law. In addition the agreement provides that the registration will be guaranteed to be free for the next two years. In addition, those who purchased lifetime
licenses will be granted a refund minus the fee for the past year.
Thiele, who vehemently opposed the license requirement two years ago had sponsored legislation ever since to repeal the requirement, including legislation in the current session with State Senator Lee Zeldin
. Thiele had also supported litigation by the Southampton and East Hampton Trustees with five other Long Island Towns which successfully obtained an injunction against the law in the seven Long Island towns.
Thiele stated, "The idea of a Saltwater Fishing license was ill-conceived from the outset. Not only was it a tax on one of the fundamental rights that Long Island residents have had since colonial times, but it was a burden to the recreational fishing industry at a time when the recession was taking its toll on the local economy. This action will send a message that the State recognizes that the right to fish should be free and that recreational fishing is a critical part of the Long Island economy."
Thiele thanked Eric Shultz and the Southampton Trustees and Diane McNally
and the East Hampton Trustees for their determined opposition to the license. "Their leadership helped to protect our rights and convince the Legislature that the license should be repealed. As always, it was a pleasure working with them."
The agreement must still be ratified in the State Budget, which is expected to be approved by April 1.