Thiele: DEC unprepared to issue new $10 salt water fishing licenses

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) admitted last week that its licensing programs were not equipped to issue new recreational saltwater fishing licenses by October 1, when the licenses go into effect by law. 

A September 15 DEC media advisory stated that the licenses were not available through the DECALs online registration system but reiterates that the licenses go into effect on October 1. Elsewhere on the DEC website, the agency advises users to allow two to three weeks to receive licenses ordered online.

“This is just one more example of why this was a poorly conceived, ill-advised plan to begin with,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor in a statement to the press. “Not only does this new license unfairly target Long Island residents and come into effect after the striped bass season has started, the DEC can’t even get their own computer system to issue the licenses in a timely fashion. Now, residents will be forced to apply right before the effective date, only to have to reapply come January 1, 2010.”

Mr. Thiele, who voted against the creation of the license, is sponsoring legislation to rescind the fees associated with the licenses. The State Senate failed to act on a Thiele bill to delay the implementation date to January 1, 2010 during a special session last week.

“I will continue to oppose this license and work with local officials to address their concerns over the legality of the license itself,” concluded Mr. Thiele.

At Town Hall Tuesday, Councilman Glenn Waddington said that the Town of Southampton will pursue legal action to stay the October 1 effective date. He encouraged Shelter Island to join the effort. “It puts our patent on the radar screen,” he said, referring to the colonial Nicolls Patent that establishes rights of Island residents to fish.

Councilman Peter Reich said that the licensing would put “the burden on us.” The DEC has stated that like hunting licenses, marine fishing licenses will be available from town clerks. But Clerk Dorothy Ogar has received no information on the licenses, Mr. Reich added. Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said that delaying the license law would give towns time to lobby and “refine it to our benefit.”