Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1018

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING ENFORCEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAWS.

Vote Date:

3/25/2013

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/8/2013

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The bill makes several changes and clarifications to environmental conservation laws under Section 26 of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS). Intent is also to update several statutes, such as for violations concerning the importation of aquatic invasive species as well as repealing several exemptions and clarifying fishing license requirements. The legislation will also specifically define what constitutes a “snare trap.” Snares are listed in several sections of the CGS but they are not adequately described.

SUBSTITUTE LANGUAGE:

The new language makes several changes to the raised bill. First, lines 96-97, subsection 23 of Section 1 is struck. This subsection defined “snare” and is removed in its entirety. Another change is in Section 3, subsection (e) of the raised bill. In the original bill, the fine listed on line 119 is $100 but this has been changed to $95 in the Substitute Language. Additionally, lines 118-121, beginning with the phrase, “The importation” and ending with “distinct offense” is new. The Substitute Language creates a new Section 9 and the old Section 9 in the original bill becomes Section 10 in the new language.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Commissioner Daniel C. Esty and Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen, Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP):

Commissioner Esty, Deputy Commissioner Whalen and DEEP testified in support of the bill. According to the department, the bill will provide an alternate fine for importation of aquatic invasive species, remove an outdated exemption of violations of some marine regulations, clarify license requirements for fisheries regulations for the taking of marine bait and update market requirements for fishing gear involved in commercial activities. Commissioner Esty states Section 2 and 3 of the bill are intended to allow the “agency to enforce laws designed to prevent the introduction of invasive species.” Public Act 09-198 increased the fine for violations of CGS 26-55 to a civil penalty not exceeding $1,000. However, the Attorney General's Office has indicated to DEEP that it will not prosecute cases because they do not pose a threat to human life. DEEP states this bill will allow them to enforce the regulations. The commissioner notes Section 4 is intended to repeal an exemption to certain marine violations. Although DEEP can suspend hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses under CGS 26-61, violations under CGS 26-159a are exempt and most of the “marine fisheries creel/length limits and seasons are adopted under this section.” Commissioner Esty also noted Sections 5 and 6 amends Public Act 09-173 from 2009 to clarify that when using certain seines, nets, and traps to take bait species in a marine district for personal use, a marine water license is required. The intent is to provide consistency between the marine and inland districts when taking bait species. This section will also require that any finfish taking under a personal use lobster pot license “conform to sport fishing length limits and seasons as adopted under CGA 26-159a.” DEEP states the current law conforms only to sport fishing creel limits. Commissioner Esty also notes Sections 7, 8, and 9 will provide for greater administrative flexibility for the department in regards to commercial fishing gear. As it stands, this is handled under CGS 26-143a and by repealing this requirement, the bill will “facilitate full online licensing and reduce agency administrative costs associated with providing fishing vessel 'flags' and metal tags for fishing gear.” The proposed regulatory authority under CGS 26-159a will allow the department to determine the appropriate size for the markings across a broad range of vessels and gear.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

None

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None

Reported by: Edward Schaeffer

Date: 04/01/2013