I’m reporting on the saltwater fishing license proposal meeting, which took place, last night (9/18/23). In attendance were reps from SASI, NCFGA, NYS DEC’s Marine Division, LIBBA, CCA, MRAC and the NYS Sportsmen’s Association.
We were advised that the federal government is about to impose a federal, $15, annually, saltwater fishing license, to be foisted upon any coastal state which doesn’t have a fee-based, saltwater fishing license. The only coastal states which do not have a fee-based saltwater license are Maryland, New Jersey and New York.
The federal law, creating the federal, saltwater license, is part of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as it was re-authorized. in 2006. It was what some would call a hidden, time bomb.
The federal funds, which NY’s saltwater sportfishing receives, as a result of the Dingell-Johnson Act (including the Wallop-Breaux Amendment) will be lost, if the feds impose their way. D-J/W-B fund distribution is nationally apportioned, among all 50 states, based on each state’s number of fee-based freshwater fishing license holders and the land area of the state, for freshwater fishing support and on each state’s number of fishing license holders, for saltwater fishing support.
The way the amended, federal law is worded, NY, as well as MD and NJ, would not qualify for any federal money, for saltwater support, since we do not have a fee-based, saltwater fishing license. We would, also, loose 100% of the Dingle-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux monies we currently receive, for saltwater activities. That would cost each of those states tens of millions of dollars, each year, in monies currently received, to support saltwater fishing activities, such as jetty construction, dredging, boat launch ramp construction/maintenance/operation, saltwater fishing access points, beach erosion management, fishing piers/docks, artificial reef construction, etc.
In the past, SASI, NCFGA and LIBBA have vehemently opposed, then defeated, a fee-based, saltwater fishing license, mostly because the funds were not scheduled to be dedicated to recreational saltwater fishing but being placed in the NYS Environmental Fund, the monies from which could and, routinely, are grabbed, by the commercial fishing industry, for their projects, as well as NYS’ general environmental projects, which would leave little to nothing, for the recreational, saltwater anglers or their activities.
The way the current NY saltwater license proposal is structured, 100% of the monies could only be spent for recreational, saltwater fishing activity enhancement and improvement of recreational marine fishing abilities and marine regulation enforcement.
At the moment, there are only 9 Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs), in the Marine Division. Those 9 are responsible for enforcing recreational and commercial fishing regulations, along the coasts and within the saltwater/brackish areas of Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island, City Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Block Island, Gardiner’s Island, plus all of the remainder of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Among the uses, to which the new license income would be applied, are 5 more ECOs, for the Marine Division.
The rest of the money would go to creating and maintaining new fishing piers/docks, launch ramps, artificial reefs, improved beach-fishing and access, etc., for the exclusive use of the recreational, saltwater anglers and could not be transferred, to any other state use, under any circumstances.
According to the federal count, NYS has approximately 1,052,000 saltwater anglers. At an annual saltwater license fee of $10 ($5 less than the feds would charge us and from which they would give us nothing, on top of which we would loose all of the D-J/W-B funding), that saltwater fishing license would bring ±$10,000,000, annually, to be available to improve NYS’ saltwater, recreational fishing. That would be in addition to retaining all of the tens of millions we would continue to receive, through the Dingle-Johnson/Wallop-Breax funds.
Among the features we believe should be implemented, if we adopt a NY saltwater fishing license are:
1) saltwater license reciprocity, among at least NY, NJ, CT, RI and MA, all of which share saltwater fishing access areas,
2) a combined fresh-saltwater fishing license, at a cost below that of the two combined,
3) rolling the saltwater license into all existing lifetime freshwater licenses, without cost,
4) rolling the saltwater license into all existing lifetime sportsman’s licenses, without cost,
5) removing the licensing exemption, for those who fish only from party or charter boats,
6) a senior (over 65) lifetime, fresh-saltwater fishing license, at no more than $35 and
7) all hunting and fishing licenses should be converted, to a calendar year basis.
Yes, there’s still a lot to be worked out and we will try to keep everyone posted, as we learn what is and isn’t going to happen.
The attached PDF is from the NYS DEC's Marine Division, providing more details.NY Marine Saltwater Fishing License Public Outreach.pdf (1.5MB)