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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2011

SCHUMER APPLAUDS NYS BUDGET DEAL TO PROVIDE FREE SALTWATER FISHING LICENSES FOR LONG ISLAND ANGLERS; CALLS ON NYS TO ESTABLISH PERMANENT FREE SALTWATER ANGLER REGISTRY


Decision by Albany a Positive Step for Long Island Fishing Enthusiasts; Calls for Establishment of a Permanently Free Registry

Schumer Helped Craft Legislation With State Legislator Last Year to Create Free Registry

Schumer: Saltwater Fishing Should Be Kept Free Forever

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today applauded the decision by the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to include in the state budget a deal to keep saltwater fishing licenses free for the next two years, but pressed legislative leaders to pass a law making it permanently free. 
“Long Island anglers who have fished these waters for hundreds of years have never had to pay fees and the decision to forgo these fees for two years is a step in the right direction. These license fees squeeze Long Island families and small fishing businesses already struggling in these difficult economic times,” Schumer said. “I strongly urge New York State legislative leaders to ensure that a permanently free licensing registry gets implemented so that New York fishermen are not faced with the same threat two years down the road.” 

In 2009, Schumer proposed creating a free Saltwater Angler registry to keep New York State in compliance with federal law while simultaneously allowing New York State to stop charging saltwater fishermen unprecedented fees. At the time, Schumer worked with State Senator Brian Foley and Assemblywoman Ginny Fields to craft legislation to repeal the existing fee-based license requirement and replace it with a free registry.   The bill passed the State Senate but did not get a full vote in the Assembly.  The Foley-Fields legislation that Schumer helped craft would require DEC to set up a registration that is free and convenient for all fishermen, and would have repealed the $400 fee levied on recreational saltwater charter boats, a trademark industry throughout Long Island’s coastal communities. The conceptual framework for reporting outlined in the Foley-Fields bill would be an excellent foundation for a new State reporting database. A similar no-fee saltwater fishing registry bill was just passed by the New Jersey State Senate.
 
The recent announcement that a budget deal has been struck which eliminates the licenses for a two year period provides much needed relief to Long Island fishermen who are already overburdened with excessive regulatory control. In a letter to Legislative leaders, Schumer asked that that legislation be passed that ensures licensing remains free indefinitely.
 
“This first step by New York State in creating free licensing for two years will provide relief to anglers on Long Island and should serve as a catalyst for a permanent fix to saltwater licensing fees. Angler reporting requirement shouldn’t be a burden on the back of New York fishermen,” Schumer said.  “I will continue to push a permanent fix so that we are not forced to revisit this issue two years from now.”
 
The sportfishing and charter boat fishing industries in New York State represent over $1 billion in economic activity and thousands of jobs, many of them on Long Island within the Marine District where the license requirement and fee is in effect.  During these tough economic times, Schumer said, the last thing our fishing and marine industries needs during these tough economic times is more fees that raise the cost of doing business and drive fishermen away.
 
A copy of Schumer’s letter can be found below.
 
 
Dear Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Skelos:
 
I write today to applaud the decision by the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to reach a budget deal that keeps saltwater fishing licenses free for the next two years, and to urge you to pass a law making it permanently free.
 
Long Island anglers who have fished our waters for hundreds of years have never had to pay fees and the decision to forgo these fees for two years is a step in the right direction. These license fees squeeze Long Island families and small fishing businesses already struggling in these difficult economic times. I strongly urge you to ensure that a permanently free licensing registry is implemented so that New York fishermen are not faced with the same threat two years down the road.
 
The sportfishing and charter boat fishing industries in New York State represent over $1 billion in economic activity and thousands of jobs, many of them on Long Island within the Marine District where the license requirement and fee is in effect.  The last thing our fishing and marine industries needs during these tough economic times is more fees that raise the cost of doing business and drive fishermen away. 
 
Creating a free license for two years will alleviate a significant burden to anglers on Long Island and should serve as a catalyst for a permanent fix to saltwater licensing fees. Angler reporting requirement shouldn’t be a burden on the back of New York fishermen and I will continue to support a permanent fix so that we are not forced to revisit this issue two years from now.
 
Thank you for your attention to this request. If you have any questions, please contact my New York City office at 212-486-4430.
 
Sincerely,
Charles E. Schumer 

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