(See also Joint Implementation Plan)
Goal 1. Improve Effectiveness of Existing Rules and Programs Protecting Coastal Fish Habitats
- Enhance enforcement of, and compliance with, Coastal Resources Commission (CRC), Environmental Management Commission (EMC), and Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) rules and permit conditions.
- Coordinate and enhance water quality, physical habitat, and fisheries resource monitoring (including data management) from headwaters to the nearshore ocean.
- Enhance and expand educational outreach on the value of fish habitat, threats from human activities, effects of non-native species, and reasons for management measures.
- Coordinate rulemaking and enforcement among regulatory commissions and agencies.
Goal 2. Identify, Designate, and Protect Strategic Habitat Areas
- Evaluate potential Strategic Habitat Areas by:
- Coordinating, completing, and maintaining baseline habitat mapping (including seagrass, shell bottom, and other bottom types) using the most appropriate technology.
- Selective monitoring of the status of those habitats.
- Assessing effects of land use and human activities on those habitats.
- Identify and designate Strategic Habitat Areas using ecologically based criteria.
- Analyze existing rules and enact measures needed to protect Strategic Habitat Areas.
- Improve programs for conservation (including voluntary actions) and acquisition of areas supporting Strategic Habitat Areas.
Goal 3. Enhance Habitat and Protect it From Physical Impacts
- Greatly expand habitat restoration, including:
- Creation of subtidal oyster reef no-take sanctuaries.
- Re-establishment of riparian wetlands and stream hydrology.
- Prepare and implement a comprehensive beach and inlet management plan that addresses ecologically based guidelines, socio-economic concerns, and fish habitat.
- Protect Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), shell bottom, and hard bottom areas from fishing gear effects through improved enforcement, establishment of protective buffers around habitats, and further restriction of mechanical shellfish harvesting.
- Protect fish habitat by revising estuarine and public trust shoreline stabilization rules using best available information, considering estuarine erosion rates, and the development and promotion of incentives for use of alternatives to vertical shoreline stabilization measures.
- Protect and enhance habitat for anadromous fishes by:
- Incorporating the water quality and quantity needs of fish in surface water use planning and rule making.
- Eliminating obstructions to fish movements, such as dams, locks, and road fills.
Goal 4. Enhance and Protect Water Quality
- Reduce point source pollution from wastewater by:
- Increasing inspections of wastewater treatment facilities, collection infrastructure, and land disposal sites.
- Providing incentives for upgrading all types of wastewater treatment systems.
- Adopt or modify rules or statutes to prohibit ocean wastewater discharges.
- Prohibit new or expanded stormwater outfalls to coastal beaches and to coastal shellfishing waters (EMC surface water classifications SA and SB) except during times of emergency (as defined by the Division of Water Quality’s Stormwater Flooding Relief Discharge Policy) when public safety and health are threatened, and continue to phase-out existing outfalls by implementing alternative stormwater management strategies.
- Enhance coordination with, and financial/technical support for, local government actions to better manage stormwater and wastewater.
- Improve land-based strategies throughout the river basins to reduce non-point pollution and minimize cumulative losses to wetlands and streams through voluntary actions, assistance, and incentives, including:
- Improved methods to reduce sediment pollution from construction sites, agriculture, and forestry.
- Increased on-site infiltration of stormwater.
- Documentation and monitoring of small but cumulative impacts to wetlands and streams from approved, un-mitigated activities.
- Incentives for low impact development.
- Increased inspections of onsite wastewater treatment facilities.
- Increased water re-use and recycling.
- Improve land-based strategies throughout the river basins to reduce non-point pollution and minimize cumulative losses to wetlands and streams through rule making, including:
- Increased use of effective vegetated buffers.
- Reduction of impervious surfaces where
- feasible and reduction of the level of impervious surface allowable in the absence of engineered stormwater controls.
- Expansion of CAMA Areas of Environmental Concern (AECs) upstream and landward.
- Consideration of erosion rates as an additional factor in the siting of structures along estuarine and public trust shorelines.
- Develop and implement a comprehensive coastal marina and dock management plan and policy for the protection of shellfish harvest waters and fish habitat.
- Reduce non-point source pollution from large-scale animal operations by the following actions:
- Support early implementation of environmentally superior alternatives to the current lagoon and spray field systems as identified under the Smithfield Agreement and continue the moratorium on new/expanded swine operations until alternative waste treatment technology is implemented.
- Seek additional funding to phase-out large-scale animal operations in sensitive areas and relocate operations from sensitive areas.
- Use improved siting criteria to protect fish habitat.