County Executive Steve Levy will Name East Hampton's Brad Loewen as Head of Advisory Panel to Promote Economic Initiatives for Fishing Industry
East Moriches, NY - As commercial and recreational fisherman continue to battle state and federal regulatory measures which could threaten their livelihood, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced Wednesday he is establishing a Commercial and Recreational Fishing Task Force to look at economic incentives to boost the industry.
Levy will name Brad Loewen, an East Hampton Town Councilperson and also a commercial fisherman, to head up the advisory panel.
"It is important to acknowledge that commercial and recreational fishing is an economic entity in and of itself in our county," said Levy, at a press conference on the shore of the Great South Bay in East Moriches.
Commercial fishing, along with related businesses which either serve or are served by fisherman, is estimated to be an $800 million industry on Long Island, providing approximately 20,000 jobs in Suffolk County.
"Just as we make economic development incentives available to manufacturing or high-technology industries, Suffolk should explore programs to help the commercial and recreational fishing industries, as well as those businesses which serve them and are served by them locally," said Loewen.
The lawmakers said that Suffolk's task force would focus on economic policies, programs and incentives, and not regulatory matters which are the jurisdiction of the state and federal government.
"We believe there are some economic tools, such as low-interest loans for capital equipment or tax incentives, of which people in the industry may not be aware," said Levy. "At the same time, it is important for us as a county to hear those problems and challenges unique to the commercial and recreational fishing industry today, and brainstorm ways to address them."
Loewen, who as a councilman in East Hampton, created a town department to assist local fisherman in dealing with regulatory issues with the state and federal governments, first addressed the economic issue with Levy at a small meeting of East End leaders in June.
Levy will be naming members to the panel, which will be created by Executive Order, in the coming weeks, and is looking to tap commercial fisherman, shell-fisherman and representatives from the charter boat/recreational fishing industry.