The New York State Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would give commercial fishermen what officials say is some much needed relief.
The bill, which would allow commercial fishermen to aggregate their
daily catch limits over a seven-day period and conserve fuel, was approved in the Senate with just one vote against it, according to New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, who sponsored the bill.
LaValle's office said his bill "allows fishermen, for example, to catch three times the daily catch limit on Monday and two times the limit on Wednesday and then stay off the water until the following Monday when a consecutive period of seven days is complete." According to the bill, individuals with different fishing licenses would also be allowed to go out and catch each of their daily limits from the same boat, which is currently prohibited.
“Fuel for running a fishing boat is extremely costly, and significantly cuts into the already slim profits of fishermen," LaValle said in a statement on Wednesday. "This bill allows fishermen to conserve fuel since they would be allowed to aggregate their daily catch limits over a seven day period.”
"I think it's a good thing to be able to do," said John Semlear, a Southampton Town Trustee and a net fishermen. He said not only will it save fuel, but it will also help fishermen from losing money during bad weather. "If you have a 70-pound allotment of fluke a day and there are three days of a storm, you are only left with four days," Semlear said. "You take a hit."
He said he knows some fishermen even go out in conditions that are unsafe just because they don't want to lose out on their daily allotment. This would end all that, he said.
Daniel G. Rodgers, a Riverhead attorney who is representing Amagansett bayman Danny Lester and about a dozen other fishermen on the East End in legal battles against the State Department of Environmental Conservation, said he is thankful that "common sense has finally prevailed" in the fishing industry.
"Sen. LaValle's legislation saves energy, saves the environment and saves fish (by catch, fewer have to be thrown back)," Rodgers said on Thursday. "It is astonishing how practical this solution is. Unfortunately, it merely reflects just how dysfunctional our current laws are in relation to fishermen and women on Long Island. It's time for change."
The bill would sunset on Jan. 1, 2015, when the success of the bill would be re-evaluated. If necessary, the bill could be extended, LaValle's office said.
The bill will now move on to the New York State Assembly, where Assemblyman Fred Thiele is sponsoring it.