West Babylon, NY—Coastal Conservation Association New York (“CCA NY”) has long supported New York’s adoption of a properly-constituted recreational salt water fishing license. However, it does not support the licensing proposal contained in the Governor’s budget bill, a proposal that it believes is fatally flawed.

“A number of arguments have been made in support of a salt water license,” notes Brian O’Keefe, Chair of CCA NY’s Government Relations Committee. “By far the most compelling is the need to provide adequate and reliable funding for marine resource management and for enhanced law enforcement in the marine district. By specifically excluding license revenues from the marine resources account, the current proposal raises the likelihood that the license will fail in its most important purpose.”

Instead of assuring that salt water license revenues would be used in a manner beneficial to the salt water anglers who buy the licenses, the proposed bill would have all such revenues deposited in the general Conservation Fund account, where they could be used to fund fish and wildlife initiatives throughout the state. The Conservation Fund is currently suffering through a long period of reduced revenues and has substantially less money available to fund existing programs. That raises the distinct possibility that most, if not all, of the salt water license revenues raised will be spent on freshwater stocking and stream access programs, or to manage deer and ruffed grouse, leaving the marine resources and salt water anglers of the state no better off than they would have been if no license had been imposed.

“I’ve been involved in fisheries management issues for quite a while,” says CCA NY’s State Chair, Charles Witek. “And in all honesty, I’m tired of seeing the Marine Bureau understaffed and overworked, without the basic funding needed to understand and reverse the decline in populations of winter flounder, weakfish, shad, river herring and other important species. I’m tired of seeing poachers run rampant off Brooklyn and Western Nassau, because the state won’t fund enough EnCon officers to adequately police that section of coast. Coastal Conservation Association New York’s membership strongly supports a salt water license, but only if the resulting revenues are used to benefit the resources of the coast and are not spent on other programs

New York’s need for additional marine resources funding is all too critical. Not long ago, the state was unable to comply with weakfish sampling requirements imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, since it simply lacked the resources to do the job. Other fisheries suffer as well.

“CCA NY believes that salt water anglers should do their fair share to support the management of marine resources,” states CCA NY President Bill Raab. “However, we don’t think that they should be paying for things like bear studies in Allegheny County while marine resources remain ignored. Yet under the current proposal, that’s just what might happen.”

--Coastal Conservation Association New York