AN ACT TO REFORM THE MANAGEMENT OF MARINE FISHERIES IN NORTH CAROLINA.
Repeals GS 113-182.1, which governed Fishery Management Plans, and replaces it with new GS 113-182.2, which provides as follows.
Requires the Division of Marine Fisheries (Division) to prepare Fishery Management Plans (Plans) and Fishery Management Plan Amendments (Amendments) for adoption by the Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) in order to ensure a sustainable harvest for all significant species and for state marine and estuarine fisheries identified by the Division that are not included under a federal or interstate management plan. Requires the Plans and Amendments to be based on fishery management standards and best available scientific, technical, and economic data and requires that they are developed under a schedule adopted by the Division. Allows the Division to develop guidance criteria as to the content and development process.
Requires each Plan and Amendment to be designed to reflect that fishery's unique fishing practices. Requires each Plan or Amendment to address six specified topics, including recommending management actions to ensure a sustainable harvest, and include a rebuilding schedule to achieve and maintain a sustainable harvest. Provides that once a Plan is adopted, management recommendations, strategies, and measures can be modified only through an Amendment.
Requires the Fisheries Director to provide the Chair of the Commission with a list of qualified candidates to assist in the development of each Plan and Amendment, and requires the Chair to appoint members from the list to each Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee). Sets out qualification requirements for members of the Advisory Committee.
Requires the Division to consult with the regional advisory committees on the preparation of each Plan or Amendment and requires the Division to seek advice from those committees and review their comments and recommendations within the established time limits before submitting a Plan or Amendment for review by the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources. Also requires the Commission to consider comments or recommendations regarding the management measure that a regional advisory committee submits to the Division.
Requires each Plan or Amendment to be reviewed every five years to ensure that the management measures meet the rebuilding schedule to achieve a sustainable harvest. Requires presentation of an annual update to the Commission. Sets out conditions under which a Plan or amendment may be retired. Allows the Division to revise the schedule for developing Plans and Amendments.
Requires the Secretary of Environmental Quality (Secretary) to monitor progress in the development and adoption of the Plans and Amendments and to report to the specified NCGA committee and division within 30 days of completion. Sets out timeline for the committee to provide comments.
Requires the Commission to adopt rules to implement the Plans.
Allows the Commission to include in a Plan a recommendation that the General Assembly limit the number of fishermen authorized to participate in the fishery; allows such recommendation only if the Commission determines that a sustainable harvest cannot otherwise be achieved. Sets out 8 factors to be considered in deciding whether to make such a recommendation.
Allows the Secretary, in consultation with the Director, to authorize development of a Fishery Management Plan Supplement to an existing Plan or Amendment if it is in the interest of maintaining a sustainable harvest. Provides that the Supplements are temporary and intended to address emergency conditions that cannot be practicably addressed through the Plan or Amendment process. Exempts the Supplement from specified procedural requirements and sets out additional provisions governing the adoption of a Supplement.
The above provisions become effective July 1, 2021. Allows Plans and Amendments that were under development before that date to continue under the process set out in repealed GS 113-182.1.
Amends GS 113-221.1 to require proclamations that suspend or implement particular rules of the Commission whose application may be affected by variable conditions to be consistent with management measures adopted under GS 113-182.2 or as otherwise provided by Commission rules. Amends the provision allowing the calling of an emergency Commission meeting to consider the issuance of a proclamation to exclude issuing a proclamation for management measures already adopted under GS 113-182.2.
Amends provisions related to the Commission as follows. Amends GS 143B-289.52 to require that rules adopted by the Commission and management measures in the rules be based on recognized fishery management standards and the best available scientific, technical, and economic data. Amends the Commission's duties to allow delegating to the Director the authority by proclamation to suspend or implement a particular rule of the Commission that may be affected by variable circumstances to a fishery resource or habitat. Makes conforming changes to the duty to adopt a Fishery Management Plan. Specifies that the Commission's power to establish standards and adopt rules to regulate the importation and exportation of fish and equipment that may be used in taking or processing fish includes non-native species. Allows the Commission to regulate participation in a fishery subject to a federal fishery management plan if it imposes a quota or allocation (was, quota only) on the State for the harvest or landing of fish in the fishery. Allows the Commission to use any additional criteria aside from holding coastal recreational fishing licenses.
Amends GS 143B-289.54 by amending the requirements for Commission membership by (1) removing provisions allowing the spouse of a commercial fisherman meeting the specified requirements to be appointed as a member; (2) requiring one person to be a recognized habitat, water quality, or ecosystems scientist with specified special training and expertise, and another person to be a recognized fisheries scientist with specified special training and expertise (these replace two individuals who were required to more broadly have general knowledge of and experience related to subjects and persons regulated by the Commission), and requires that the person not receive more than the specified amount of income from commercial or sports fishing industries; and (3) requiring that the already described appointee who is a fisheries scientist be recognized as such. Requires that the membership include at least one person who is a resident of the three named regions (was, more generally, a resident of each of the three coastal regions). Allows a person serving on the Commission at the time that the act becomes law to continue to serve for the person's remaining term even if the person no longer meets the qualifications of amended GS 143B-289.54.
Specifies that other than routine communications sent from Division staff to all Commission members, any electronic, oral, or other communications (was, only electronic communications) among a majority of the Commission is considered an official meting.
Adds the requirement that the Commission establish and publish a written agenda for the its quarterly meetings. Prohibits a member from moving to deliberate or vote on any business or issue not previously noticed on the meeting agenda once a meeting is convened. Allows members to move at the meeting to deliberate or vote on new business or issues for future meetings.
Amends GS 143B-289.57 by amending requirements for the Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committees, as follows. Decreases the number of standing advisory committees from four to three and the number of regional advisory committees from four to two. Requires that the designation of chairs be based on recommendations by the Division. Makes provisions governing standing advisory committees also applicable to regional advisory committees and makes conforming changes. Adds that if the Commission rejects a conclusion or recommendation from an advisory committee, the Commission must provide its reasons for doing so, in writing.
Amends GS 113-136, concerning the enforcement authority of inspectors and protectors, as follows. Gives inspectors, in addition to protectors, authority to enforce criminal laws when there is probable cause to believe that a person committed a criminal offense in his presence and at the time of the violation the inspector or protector is engaged in the enforcement of laws otherwise within his jurisdiction, or when the inspector or protector is asked to provide temporary assistance by the head of a State or local law enforcement agency or his designee and the request is within the scope of the agency's subject matter jurisdiction. Makes it unlawful to refuse to allow inspectors, protectors, or other law enforcement officers to inspect weapons or equipment, fish, or wildlife that the officer reasonably believes to be possessed incident to an activity regulated by any law or rule as to which inspectors and protectors have enforcement jurisdiction; no longer requires the inspector, prospector, or other law enforcement officer to have a reasonable suspicion that a violation has been committed (previously not required for the inspection of shotguns only). No longer limits inspection of fish or wildlife for the purpose of ensuring compliance with bag limits or size limits. Eliminates the specification that stated the provisions do not authorize inspection in the absence of a person in apparent control of the item, except for equipment left unattended in the normal operation of the equipment such as traps and crab pots.
Amends GS 113-132 by providing that the Commission's jurisdiction includes the regulation of aquaculture facilities that cultivate or rear marine and estuarine resources, marine aquatic species, or non-native species (was, estuarine resources only). Specifies that the Commission does not have jurisdiction over matters clearly within the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Quality, including policy matters.
Amends GS 113-170 to allow Commission rules to include regulating, licensing, prohibiting, or restricting holding or maintaining in marine aquaculture operations in the state, as well as exportation of non-native species.
Amends GS 113-170.3 to include within those records that are not public records and that are to be treated as confidential (1) specified records received by the Department and (2) confidential federal fishery data and records concerning species significant to the State that are maintained by and received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Repeals GS 113-181, which made it the Department's duty to administer and enforce the provisions of this Subchapter pertaining to the conservation of marine and estuarine resources, replacing it with GS 113-181.1, which expands upon that duty to also include the management of those resources and the development and implementation of Fishery Management Plans and Amendments and Coastal Habitat Protection Plans.
Amends GS 113-228 to provide that to the extent the Department is granted authority over subject matter as to which there is concurrent federal or interstate jurisdiction, the Commission may by reference in its rules adopt relevant provisions of federal or interstate laws, regulations, and management measures as State rules.
Includes a severability clause.
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