The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is hosting a series of meetings this summer to gather feedback from stakeholders on how to modernize and improve the state’s current commercial fishing licensing system.
State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle brought this issue into focus last year when, in the State Legislature, they blocked the DEC for three years from continuing the current archaic commercial fishing licensing scheme.
As a compromise, the licensing scheme was limited to one year and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos came to Long Island last fall to meet with members of commercial fishing industry.
At that meeting, the industry unanimously supported two demands: That the state challenge the federal quotas and reform the commercial fishing licensing system to improve access and transferability of licenses.
Two meetings to discuss these issues had been scheduled as of press time. The first will be held in the first floor auditorium at Southampton Town Hall, 116 Hampton Road, Southampton, on Thursday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m.
The second will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center at 3690 Cedar Beach Road in Southold.
A meeting in Montauk in the works had not been finalized as of press time, but the DEC is planning to update their website with that information at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7755.html.
Assemblyman Thiele stated, “I am pleased to see that the DEC is keeping its promise to support a vital Long Island industry that is getting choked out by poor regulation,” said Mr. Thiele. “Commercial fishermen have long suffered from unfair and inequitable quotas arbitrarily set by the federal government based on faulty data. Additionally, the current regulations related to the transfer of permits and licenses have thwarted the proper operation of this industry.”
“We must resolve these issues with our fishing community at the table in full participation. The economic survival of our commercial fishermen must be our ultimate priority. I, too, applaud the DEC’s efforts to fight for fair and equitable quotas and will continue my efforts to protect this vital industry,” said Senator LaValle.
In March, the DEC retained the services of marine fisheries consultant George LaPointe, who will facilitate the meetings. A former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Natural Resources, Mr. LaPointe will analyze and evaluate the current marine commercial licensing system and provide recommendations on how to improve and revise it.
The topics to be addressed include specifying qualifications for license issuance; license transferability; identifying means of entry for new participants in New York’s fisheries; apprenticeship; and resolution of issues with latent licenses.