I agree with the above, all valid points. We almost lost this privilege several years back when there were sweeping rule changes proposed because of some abuses regarding short Northern Pike on the St Lawrence. I was one who went before our legislature to present our case and thankfully they agreed and it was retained.
It comes down to convenience for the tourist angler, first and foremost. In our case in Niagara county, being able to fillet on the water vs waiting in line at a public cleaning table can mean HOURS of time saved on the highway back to PA or OH. If our guests get caught on the 90 in Buffalo rush hour traffic, it may be just frustrating enough to make them think twice about coming into NY. Yes, fishing is great, but as soon as they leave OH and PA sections of I-90 NY greets them with tolls and even higher gas taxes than they have at home. Not all of our harbors have excellent cleaning stations with grinders, and those that do are not conducive to busy charter operators. We have crews ready and excited to go out at a certain time and if we are caught behind less skilled fish cleaners or a long line of super successful rec anglers we will be unable to stay on schedule. It works both ways too, the rec guys at these tables don't have to wait on the charters to clean 4 or 5 tourist anglers catch ahead of them either. We are glad they are there(cleaning stations/grinders) for the rec guys with smaller vessels to enjoy but not every harbor has them, and many harbors want the remains taken elsewhere--again, extremely inconvenient especially for a family who just arrived after lunch for an afternoon trip--little jill doesn't have to enjoy her first ride out to Lake Ontario with a bucket of remains with yellow jackets crawling all over it.
It is a very important part of the convenience factor for the tourism aspect of our fishery, not only for the tourists but for the service providers. It also helps keep harmony in harbor areas as there is less temptation to dump remains in someones dumpster or the side of the road.