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COASTAL HABITAT PROTECTION PLANS - Effective July 1, 1998
This new law requires the Marine Fisheries Commission, the Environmental Management Commission and the Coastal Resources Commission to jointly develop and approve Coastal Habitat Protection Plans for wetlands, spawning areas, threatened/endangered species habitat, primary and secondary nursery areas, shellfish beds, submerged aquatic vegetation and outstanding resource waters.
All Coastal Habitat Protection Plans are to be completed by July 1, 2003, and must be reviewed every five years.
All regulatory actions by the Marine Fisheries Commission, the Environmental Management Commission and the Coastal Resources Commission must be consistent with approved Coastal Habitat Protection Plans.
LAW ENFORCEMENT - Effective September 1, 1997
People who violate fisheries laws will face stricter criminal and civil penalties.
The new law establishes civil penalties of up to $10,000 for buying or selling fish illegally.
The Marine Fisheries Commission must develop a violation point system and submit it to the Joint Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture by July 1, 1999.
SEAFOOD AND AQUACULTURE STUDIES
The Fisheries Reform Act requires the Joint Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture to conduct a number of studies and report their findings to the General Assembly in 1998. These studies are listed below:
Feasibility of a Coastal Recreational Fishing License
Feasibility of a Commercial Fishing Crew License
Enhancement and management of shellfish
Feasibility of licensing for students harvesting shellfish
Establishment of a program to acquire, preserve, and protect coastal fisheries habitat
Procedures and rules used by the Moratorium License Appeals Panel
The Joint Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture is also scheduled to review a performance audit of the Division of Marine Fisheries. The State Auditor is scheduled to submit this report by February 1, 1998.
This overview was prepared by the