Thiele Acts for Fishermen ‘Under Siege’

T.E. McMorrow

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has introduced a package of legislation intended to aid the commercial fishing industry. Two of the three bills were introduced in the 2015-16 legislative session. One would direct the state attorney general to bring legal action against the National Marine Fisheries Service, or any other federal agency, to challenge existing quotas that the bill calls inequitable and discriminatory against New York State commercial fishermen. The bill is now in the Assembly’s environmental conservation committee.

A second bill, also introduced in the 2015-16 legislative session, adds a new element in its current form. It would establish a commercial fishing advocate and, in its new version, create a commercial fishing jobs development program under State Department of Economic Development jurisdiction. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed the bill last year, Mr. Thiele said yesterday. “We’ve re-introduced it and made revisions that we hope will help encourage the governor to sign it,” he said.

The third proposed legislation would establish a task force to create a program that would promote the marketing and sustainability of New York seafood.

“Commercial fishing remains a vital part of our economy and our tradition on Long Island,” Mr. Thiele said in a statement issued on Friday. “Our fishermen are under siege like never before from federal and state regulations and a tough economic climate. We need to foster the industry, not strangle it in red tape and regulations.”

“Now more than ever, in the face of losing territory and possibly fishing grounds, it’s really important for our legislators to support our industry, which dates back hundreds of years,” Bonnie Brady, the director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said on Tuesday. “We appreciate Assemblyman Thiele’s support.”

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle is co-sponsoring the bills in the Senate.