Suffolk to support fishing suit

Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials are gearing up to support the legal effort filed by the towns of Shelter Island, East Hampton and Southampton to block a New York State marine fishing license .

Flanked by a school of fishermen and anglers, Legislator Ed Romaine, County Comptroller Joe Sawicki, and Brookhaven Town Councilman Keith Romaine voiced their opposition to the state’s new marine fishing license.

The fee, which is estimated to pour $4 million per year into state coffers, went into effect on October 1. However, because of the East End lawsuit and a subsequent temporary restraining order, the license is currently not enforceable in Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island.

Judge William B. Rebolini has ordered the State of New York to appear in State Supreme Court on October 15 to fend off a longer injunction against the licenses.

“Again, Albany is attempting to balance its budget on the backs of Long Islanders,” said Legislator Romaine in a press release. “While there are 62 counties in New York and the license would apply statewide, it is safe to assume not many residents of landlocked upstate counties are fishing in the ocean.”

“The United States is known throughout the world as ‘the land of the free,’” stated Comptroller Sawicki. “Thanks to Albany, Long Island is now known as ‘the land of the fee.’”

As a member of the New York State Assembly in 1984, Mr. Sawicki led the charge that blocked the creation of a similar marine fishing license. 

On October 13, with the support of Comptroller Sawicki, Legislator Romaine will introduce a procedural motion directing counsel to the Suffolk County Legislature to file an amicus brief in support of the East End lawsuit. 

The suit asserts that the state is infringing on waterways rights granted to town trustees and freeholders through colonial patents. The Dongan Patents, issued by colonial governor Thomas Dongan in 1686, entitle the Town of Brookhaven as well as the South Fork towns to those rights. 

Councilman Keith Romaine will introduce a town board resolution at Thursday’s work session seeking to have Brookhaven invoke its Dongan Patent rights and become party to the action brought by Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island.