AN ACT TO ENSURE THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF COASTAL NORTH CAROLINA THROUGH THE RESTORATION AND LONG-TERM CONSERVATION OF NORTH CAROLINA'S PUBLIC, COASTAL FISHERIES RESOURCES.
Amends GS 143B-279.2 (Department of Environmental Quality--duties). Requires the Department to provide for the conservation of the state's natural resources, in addition to currently listed duties.
Recodifies GS 113-181(a) as GS 113-181(a1). Amends GS 113-181. Amends the caption to read "Declaration of policy; duties and powers of Department). Declares state marine and estuarine resources to be a public trust resource belonging to all state citizens, and that conservation of these resources is in the interest of the public welfare. Directs coastal fishery resources to be conserved, protected, and enhanced for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of state citizens and visitors. Directs the Department of Environmental Quality to implement this policy.
Amends GS 143B-289.51 (Marine Fisheries Commission--creation; purposes). Applies the legislative policy described above to the Marine Fisheries Commission in carrying out statutory functions, purposes, powers, and duties. Lists seven additional policies and standards for the Marine Fisheries Commission to apply to its actions, including that the paramount concern of conservation and management measures is the continuing health and abundance of the marine and estuarine resources of North Carolina. Amends the function of the Marine Fisheries Commission to include managing, regulating, developing, and cultivating marine and estuarine resources in a manner to conserve, protect, restore, and enhance those resources for the benefit of State citizens, in addition to current listed functions.
Recodifies GS 143B-289.52(a) as GS 143B-289.52(a1). Amends GS 143B-289.52 to require the Marine Fisheries Commission to implement the legislative policies in GS 143B-289.51, as amended, in taking action under this statute. Expands on the Commission's powers, by adding the enactment of rules applicable to commercial or recreational fisheries that eliminate by catch mortality of non-targeted species.
Recodifies GS 113-129(1f) as GS 113-129(1g). Amends GS 113-129 to define bycatch and conservation, to amend the definition of overfishing, and to delete the definition of sustainable harvest.
Amends GS 113-224(b) to authorize (was, prohibit) the Fisheries Director to enter into an agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service allowing Division of Marine Fisheries inspectors to accept delegation of law enforcement powers over matters within the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Amends GS 113-182.1 (Fishery management plans). Provides that stocks of fish, when possible and practicable, shall be managed as a biological unit. Requires fishery management plans to contain biological and ecological data necessary for the conservation of the fishery, in addition to other currently listed information, and to recommend management measures that would provide the greatest overall benefit to the state, particularly with respect to conservation of marine and estuarine resources and ecosystems, and protecting them from overexploitation. Lists nine required plan management measures. Deletes the provision authorizing the Fisheries Director to determine that the biology of fish, environmental conditions, or lack of data, making the time period to end overfishing inapplicable. Directs the Commission to utilize supplemental authority in places where management measures under a plan have been insufficient to end overfishing within two years, and to concurrently begin adopting permanent rules necessary to end overfishing. Directs the Fisheries Director to close the fishery to further harvest until supplemental rules are in effect. Supplemental authority and closing of fisheries also applies whenever the Commission determines that overfishing is occurring in a fishery at any time following the initial two-year overfishing assessment period. Requires the plan to specify a time period to achieve conservation in a fishery (was, a sustainable harvest), and if not achievable within 10 years, directs the Commission to recommend actions and legislation necessary to restore the fishery. Deletes the provision regarding 50% probability of achieving sustainable harvest for fisheries. Requires the plan to recommend appropriate management actions pertaining to the fishery. Establishes an up-to-20-member Marine Fisheries Resources Advisory Council to assist with the development of fishery management plans, and provides for membership on and duties of the Council. Deletes the provisions regarding comments by regional advisory committees, and directs the Department of Environmental Quality to inform the Commission of any comment or recommendation regarding plan management measures submitted by a regional advisory committee. Authorizes the Commission to develop temporary management measures to supplement an existing Fishery Management Plan, as necessary to the long-term viability of a species or fishery, either on its own or at the direction of the Secretary. Directs the Commission to consult with regional advisory committees regarding the development of any temporary management measures. Authorizes the Commission to include in the Plan a recommendation that the General Assembly appropriate program funding to reduce economic burdens to commercial license holders due to changes in fishery participation prohibitions.
Makes a conforming change to GS 150B-21.1, allowing the Commission to adopt temporary rules for the specified reasons.
Appropriates $750,000 in recurring funds from the General Fund to the Division of Marine Fisheries for four listed purposes, including a study by the Division of the impact to holders of commercial fishing licenses due to changes resulting from this act.
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