NY: DEC officially halts sales of salt license

On heels of state’s 2-year suspension

Albany – DEC has officially scrapped its saltwater fishing license
on the heels of an amendment within the state budget that suspends
the license for two years.

DEC officials announced earlier this month – shortly after the
adoption of the state budget – that the recreational marine fishing
license is no longer required. The $10 resident fee ($15 annually
for nonresidents) had been implemented in 2009 for saltwater
anglers, including those fishing the tidal waters of the Hudson
River up to the Troy dam.

The suspension – DEC officials won’t call it a repeal – of the
saltwater license leaves a series of unanswered questions, among
them where DEC might recoup revenue lost through the sales of the
license, which had generated about $2.4 million.

DEC will now be required to establish a free registry in lieu of
the saltwater license. DEC officials indicated in a news release
they expect to have the registry in place in early June.

“In the interim, saltwater anglers may fish without a marine
license and without registering with DEC,” the news release said.
“The DEC reminds anglers that they should not attempt to purchase
licenses through DECALS, the online license sales system.”

The state also notified its 1,500 license-issuing agents that the
saltwater fishing license should no longer be sold.

The new law also directs DEC to provide refunds to holders of a
lifetime recreational marine fishing license. Refunds of $150 to
about 9,000 lifetime license holders are expected to be sent out
this year.

There are no provisions in the newly enacted legislation to refund
other marine license fees.

Indications are the state will make up lost saltwater license
revenue through its general fund. But the repeal, in addition to
the lost license revenue of over $2 million, also means the loss of
about $1.4 million annually in Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration
program funding, which is based on license sales.

The state licenses, and now the free registration, are meant to
bring New York in line with a federal mandate to document U.S.
marine fisheries to assist in long-term management. That federal
law would have imposed a federal license fee for New York starting
this year unless the state enacted its own measure.

Members of the state’s Conservation Fund Advisory Board, at a
meeting last week, indicated they would continue lobbying for a
restoration of the saltwater license when the two-year suspension
of the fee expires.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers inserted the suspension of the
marine license in budget legislation.

DEC is now working to establish the free registry.

“The fee for a saltwater fishing license was likely going to keep
New Yorkers from fishing and threatened the future of small
businesses that depend on free and easy access to recreational
fishing across the state,” Cuomo said. “Fishing is an important
recreational activity for so many New Yorkers and a critical
commercial industry.”

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