An Act To Promote Rockweed Habitat Conservation through the Consideration of No-harvest Areas
Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §6807, as amended by PL 2013, c. 169, §1, is further amended to read:
§ 6807. Seaweed harvesting rules
The commissioner may adopt rules regulating the harvest of seaweed on a species-specific basis, including, but not limited to, the total number of licenses that may be issued, the designation of a harvesting season or seasons, the quantity of the resource that may be harvested in a season, areas that may be open or closed to harvest, the designation of sectors, limitations on harvest by sector, establishment of a process for allocation to sectors and gear and techniques that may be used in harvesting. Rules establishing a process for the allocation to sectors under this section are major substantive rules pursuant to Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A. Rules All other rules adopted under this section are routine technical rules pursuant to Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Sec. 2. Statewide management plan for rockweed; final report. The Commissioner of Marine Resources, referred to in this section as "the commissioner," shall complete and present to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over marine resources matters by January 31, 2015 a statewide management plan for rockweed pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 12, section 6171, subsection 2-A.
1. Recommendations; criteria; areas closed to harvest. The plan must include recommendations for:
2. Working group convened. The commissioner shall create a working group whose purpose is to evaluate the impact of rockweed harvesting on sensitive wildlife habitat areas and conservation lands in order to generate input on no-harvest conservation areas and designate specific areas appropriate for closure for inclusion in the plan. In establishing this working group, the commissioner shall solicit the participation of individuals or entities with expertise that is specific to the role of rockweed and its impact on the vitality of wildlife habitat and conservation land. Working group members shall evaluate at their meetings peer-reviewed scientific data and additional input and consider information submitted by pertinent stakeholders or other entities with specific expertise or local knowledge regarding sensitive wildlife areas or rockweed beds in support of closing an area to protect sensitive wildlife and wildlife habitat and from harvesters about harvest practices and the impacts of potential closures on industry in order to identify areas that may be appropriate for designation as no-harvest areas for conservation. The working group shall generate the criteria for designating no-harvest areas for conservation and prepare a list of areas to be closed to rockweed harvesting for conservation for the plan.
3. Legislation. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over marine resources matters is authorized to report out a bill to the First Regular Session of the 127th Legislature that is related to the rockweed plan submitted pursuant to this section.
This bill changes the existing law for seaweed harvesting rules to make the rules for the allocation to sectors major substantive and not routine technical rules, as is currently the case. This bill also directs the Commissioner of Marine Resources to convene a working group that will identify criteria for the designation of no-harvest areas for conservation and to identify specific areas that are to be closed to rockweed harvesting, except for research purposes, on a seasonal or permanent basis according to the criteria identified by the working group. The commissioner is required to complete and present to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over marine resources matters by January 31, 2015 a statewide management plan for rockweed. The committee is authorized to report out legislation to the First Regular Session of the 127th Legislature related to the plan.