M.S.A Press Releases
Originally published in the North Shore Sun, June 19, 2009
Get Your Tackle Box Ready, Fishing's Back!
Compromise made, ban now lifted
By Peggy Spellman Hoey
| Staff Writer

Fishing line will soon be back in the Sound over at Shoreham Beach.

Town officials have reached a compromise on the issue of fishing at Shoreham Beach, a town-maintained beach that was closed to fishermen and boaters last year when a gate was installed at the front entrance following complaints by residents about trespassing.

The beach, which is next to the former Shoreham nuclear power plant, is accessible to the public by an access road located off North Country Road. Numerous complains concerning the use of all-terrain vehicles, vagrancy, littering and trespassing into back yards have been lodged with Suffolk police, increasing in direct relation to the arrival of the summer crowd at Shoreham Beach. This caused officials last year to install a security gate and cameras to deter vehicles from entering the property after lifeguards close up for the night, as well as bilingual "no fishing" signs. This raised the ire of members of several fishing advocacy organizations, who argued that their rights to walk below the mean high-water mark were violated, giving way to a series of debates on message boards and a petition to restore access to the site. According to town officials, fishing and boating have never been allowed at the site, although the rule was never enforced.

Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, who recently met to discuss beach access issues with the New York State Coalition for Recrreational Fishing--the state's largest lobbying group that looks after the rights of recreational fishermen and their issues concerning access--residents, the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid, said officials will allow fishing at the beach by the use of a fishing access sticker. The stickers will be free and will be provided by the seasonal workers at the booth with proof of identification. Nonresidents who use the parking lot will be charged a $20 fee for parking, and nonresident walk-ons to the beach will have to pay a $10 fee.

The beach has also been added to the list of beaches that are covered by the night-fishing permit; however, nonresidents are not eligible, the supervisor said.

Officials have also extended the hours of operation, previously 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., to 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. There will be two seasonal employees on duty per day at the beach, and there will also be expanded enforcement efforts by park rangers and code enforcement.

Mr. Lesko commended everyone for coming to the table and arriving at a solution.

"All of this is to address the unique situation at Shoreham Beach, which was a serious issue for residents who live near the beach and also law enforcement," Mr. Lesko said. "This is specific to this beach," he added.

Coalition President William Young said members of the delegation, who met with Mr. Lesko, requested that both day and night fishing be restored to the area, and suggested the use of a card key reader, offering to help with its costs, so that the town could keep track of who was using the facility.

The coalition also requested a fishing advisory committee to discuss beach access issues across the township and especially on the North Shore, which has very few public access points between Mount Sinai and Wading River. Many of the public access roads, where fishermen used to park, have been whittled away over the years, dedicated to beach property owners' associations, he said.

Mr. Young said he was pleased with the agreement, but noted there are still other issues with fishing throughout the town.

"It's a general good-for-now agreement," he said.

Mr. Lesko said town officials will consider creation of a fishing advisory committee to address the issue of parking at other fishing areas throughout the town and whether or not nonresidents should be included in the night fishing permit.

The advisory committee would have to be set up by resolution of the Town Board, he said.

Second District Councilwoman Jane Bonner, who said officials have met extensively with all the stakeholders on the issue, said she was glad to see a resolution that would solve both the access issue and accountablity.

"I'm gratified," she said.
 
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