Editorial: Fishermen At Risk

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Southampton attorney Daniel Rodgers is a bit of a Don Quixote, tilting at that bureaucratic windmill, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, through regular press conferences. His goal, he says, is to bring attention to the DEC’s heavy handed enforcement policies.

Mr. Rodgers represents Dan and Paul Lester, two Amagansett baymen. Five years ago, a DEC officer seized — and, as is permitted by law — sold fish belonging to one of their cousins, mistaking it for Paul Lester’s fish. Mr. Lester was charged with possessing more than his allowed daily limit. Although the case was dismissed and the family eventually reimbursed, Mr. Rodgers says the problem persists.

At issue, he says, is a state law that basically gives DEC enforcement officers carte blanche to conduct searches without having the same kind of probable cause a police officer would need before, say, pulling over a suspected drunken driver.

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, who has tried in the past, promised to once again introduce legislation that would raise the bar for DEC officers. Here’s to hoping it faces smoother sailing than a previous effort that was vetoed by Governor Cuomo.

 

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