The New York DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) is slated to refund over 1.5 million dollars in saltwater fishing license fees. New York's governor, Andrew P. Cuomo, directed the DEC to begin the refund of license fees to anglers who purchased a Recreational Marine Fishing License (RMFL) in 2011. In addition, the NY DEC will be refunding license fees to New Yorkers who purchased lifetime licenses in 2010.
New York began collecting marine license fees as part of the RMFL program last year, in order to comply with federal guidelines that require that all anglers in marine waters be registered. However, in New York's 2011-2012 budget eliminated the license fee and called for implementation of free registration system to remain in compliance with federal regulations.
According to DEC commissioner Joe Martens, "New York's angler community plays an essential role in the management of the state's fish and wildlife programs. Federal requirements for a state tracking program to fish in coastal waters were intended to help manage a wide variety of saltwater species but it was a mistake to put an added cost burden on anglers. The new, no-fee registry will allow New Yorkers to experience fishing in coastal areas without any additional cost."
It is estimated that over $1,350,000 in refunds have already been issued to anglers who purchased a lifetime license. The remaining fees, approximately $300,000, will be refunded to charter boat operators and individual license purchasers by the end of the summer.
Anglers who purchased an RMFL in 2011 or a lifetime license that have not received their refund by the end of September should contact the NY DEC.