The Village of Babylon is proposing regulations for fishing in an effort to stem an increase in wildlife injuries and deaths from fishing tackle.
The law would mark the first time the village has implemented any restrictions on fishing and the rules would apply to three bodies of water: Argyle Lake, Southards Pond and Hawleys Lake. The regulations, which are based on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s freshwater fishing guidelines, describe the kinds of equipment and manner of fishing in which individuals may partake. Anglers must have fishing licenses on them and are limited to three lines at a time. Those in violation of the law face a minimum $250 fine.
At a public hearing last week on the proposed law, residents questioned the effectiveness of the regulations and even called for a fishing ban.
But "The Village of Babylon is not looking to ban fishing," Mayor Mary Adams said in an interview. "We just need everybody to be responsible."
Adams said the village noticed an increase of late in the number of cormorants, geese and ducklings getting entangled in fishing line or having hooks embedded in them. The mayor said fishing has increased since COVID-19 as people seek more outdoor activities.
"Some were so bad they had to be euthanized," she said, adding that dogs being walked near the water also have had hooks embedded in their paws.
John Di Leonardo, president of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature, said his group has continually rescued injured wildlife in the village. He said the regulations do not go far enough and called for a fishing ban in parks.
"There are plenty of places in Babylon where people can fish," he said. "We need a safe haven for wildlife and for animal lovers."
Resident Jim Miller, a longtime fisherman who has also done conservation work with sharks and whales, said his 12-year-old son Lucas spends "any free time" fishing at village parks and has even saved some wildlife from tackle. Most anglers are responsible, he said.
"I don’t understand how this is going to solve the problem," he said of the proposed law. Instead, he said, there needs to be more garbage cans for tackle and more cleanups by village workers.
Adams said the village will place tackle receptacles in parks and have code enforcement officers make patrols. On Wednesday, village officials spoke with the DEC and discussed having the agency increase inspections and also provide classes for anglers so that they understand the rules.
Adams said the DEC is reviewing the proposed legislation and there may be changes made before it goes before the board of trustees for a vote next month.