Senate Bill No. 92

Public Act No. 01-98

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PERMITTING OF POUND NETS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 22a-363b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Routine maintenance of permitted structures, fill, obstructions or encroachments or routine maintenance of structures, fill, obstructions or encroachments in place prior to June 24, 1939, and continuously maintained and serviceable since that date shall be exempt from the requirements of obtaining certificates of permission or permits pursuant to section 22a-363a, this section or section 22a-361. The following activities may be eligible for a certificate of permission, in accordance with the provisions of subsections (c) and (d) of this section: (1) Substantial maintenance or repair of existing structures, fill, obstructions or encroachments authorized pursuant to section 22a-33 or section 22a-361; (2) substantial maintenance of any structures, fill, obstructions or encroachments in place prior to June 24, 1939, and continuously maintained and serviceable since such time; (3) maintenance dredging of areas which have been dredged and continuously maintained and serviceable as authorized pursuant to section 22a-33 or section 22a-361; (4) activities allowed pursuant to a perimeter permit and requiring authorization by the commissioner; (5) the removal of derelict structures or vessels; (6) minor alterations or amendments to permitted activities consistent with the original permit; (7) minor alterations or amendments to activities completed prior to June 24, 1939; (8) placement of temporary structures for water-dependent uses, as defined in section 22a-93; (9) open water marsh management and conservation activities undertaken by or under the supervision of the Department of Environmental Protection; and (10) the placement or reconfiguration of piers, floats, docks or moorings within existing waterward boundaries of recreational marinas or yacht clubs which have been authorized pursuant to section 22a-33 or 22a-361. Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 22a-29 to 22a-35, inclusive, the commissioner may issue a certificate of permission for activities enumerated in this subsection which are to be conducted in tidal wetlands. Upon issuance, such certificate shall be in lieu of the permit required pursuant to section 22a-32.

(b) The commissioner may issue a certificate of permission for activities which have been completed prior to January 1, 1980, for which permits, certificates or emergency authorizations are required pursuant to section 22a-32, this section, section 22a-361 or 22a-363d, which have been conducted without such permit, certificate or emergency authorization, provided the applicant demonstrates that such activity does not interfere with navigation or littoral or riparian rights and does not cause adverse impacts on coastal resources, as defined in section 22a-93. In determining the eligibility of activities conducted without prior authorization, the commissioner may consider whether the applicant acquired [his] such real estate interest in the work site after the date of conduct of the unauthorized activity, is not otherwise liable for the unauthorized activity as a result of actions taken prior to the acquisition and did not know and had no reason to know of the unauthorized activity. The commissioner may authorize the maintenance of unauthorized activities consistent with this subsection. Unauthorized activities which are ineligible for certificates of permission may be subject to applicable enforcement actions by the commissioner.

(c) A request for a certificate of permission shall be made to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. If a proposed activity is within a category listed in subsection (a) or (b) of this section the commissioner may, in whole or in part, approve, modify and approve or deny a certificate. The commissioner shall issue such a certificate if the eligible proposed activity is consistent with a permit issued pursuant to section 22a-33 or 22a-361 or was in place prior to June 24, 1939, and continuously maintained and serviceable since such time. If the eligible proposed activity does not have a permit or has not received any prior permits, the commissioner shall determine if the information provided is sufficient to determine if the proposed activity complies with the applicable standards and criteria and may (1) issue a certificate of permission if [he] the commissioner finds that the information indicates compliance with all applicable standards and criteria, or (2) require the submittal of a complete application for a permit pursuant to section 22a-32 or 22a-361, if [he] the commissioner finds that the information is not sufficient to indicate compliance with the standards and criteria. If the commissioner finds that changes in conditions or circumstances associated with a permitted structure, fill, obstruction or encroachment are likely to result in significant impacts to the environment or coastal resources, [he] the commissioner may require an application for a permit pursuant to section 22a-32 or 22a-361. If the commissioner finds that the structure, fill, obstruction or encroachment is not in substantial compliance with the permit or authorization under which a certificate of permission is requested, and is not consistent with applicable standards and criteria, [he] the commissioner shall not issue a certificate of permission. For the purposes of this subsection, standards and criteria are those specified in sections 22a-33 and 22a-359 and regulations adopted pursuant to section 22a-30, in any regulations adopted pursuant to subsection (c) of said section 22a-361, in the water quality standards of the Department of Environmental Protection, and in sections 22a-92 and 22a-98 for activities within the coastal boundary, as defined in section 22a-93.

(d) The commissioner shall, within forty-five days of receipt of a request for a certificate of permission, issue such certificate or notify the person making such request that (1) additional information or an application for a permit pursuant to section 22a-32 or section 22a-361 is required or (2) the structure, fill, obstruction or encroachment is not eligible for a certificate of permission. If the commissioner requests additional information from an applicant, the commissioner shall make a determination on the application no later than ninety days from the date of receipt of the request for a certificate of permission. If the commissioner fails to respond within forty-five days of receipt of a request, the certificate of permission shall be deemed approved, except that no certificate of permission for dredging, activities located within tidal wetlands, as defined in section 22a-29, or activities conducted without prior authorization shall be deemed approved by virtue of the commissioner's failure to respond.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of the general statutes, the commissioner shall not issue a certificate of permission for a pound net, weir or similar fish harvesting structure that was not utilized prior to the effective date of this act. The commissioner may issue a permit for such fish harvesting structure, in accordance with section 22a-361, provided, if the commissioner receives a petition signed by twenty-five or more persons during the public comment period provided in subsection (b) of section 22a-361 for the application for any such permit, the commissioner shall hold a public hearing on such permit application.

Sec. 2. Section 22-455 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

There is established a Connecticut Seafood Advisory Council to assist in the promotion of Connecticut seafood products and examine market opportunities. The advisory council shall consist of one freshwater fish producer appointed by the Governor, two finfish, shellfish or lobster harvesters or representatives of harvester organizations appointed one each by the speaker and majority leader of the House of Representatives, two finfish, shellfish or lobster processors or representatives of processor organizations appointed one each by the minority leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, one retailer serving restaurants or representing a restaurant organization appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, one member at-large appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, and four nonvoting members one of whom shall represent the Department of Environmental Protection, one the Department of Economic and Community Development and one the Department of Agriculture and one the Sea Grant Program at The University of Connecticut. The advisory council shall be within the Department of Agriculture.

Sec. 3. (NEW) The Connecticut Seafood Advisory Council may utilize federal, state or other available funds, and may enter into contracts in order to carry out the purposes of this section.

Sec. 4. This act shall take effect from its passage.

Approved June 6, 2001