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Substitute Senate Bill No. 308

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-10

AN ACT CONCERNING COMMERCIAL AND SPORT FISHING IN MARINE WATERS.

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

Section 26-142a of the general statutes, as amended by public act 95-201, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No person shall operate, use or attempt to operate or use a vessel for commercial fishing or landing activities authorized by this section unless the [owner of such vessel has been issued a commercial fishing vessel permit by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection] COMMISSIONER HAS ISSUED A VESSEL PERMIT FOR SUCH VESSEL TO THE OWNER OF THE VESSEL. No person shall use or assist in using commercial fishing gear in any water of the state or land in this state any species taken by commercial fishing gear or for commercial purposes, regardless where such species was taken, unless such person has been licensed by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to use such commercial fishing gear or land such species; except that any person who holds a license to set or tend gill nets, a license to take lobsters for personal use, a resident commercial fishing license, a nonresident commercial fishing license or a commercial landing license may be accompanied and assisted by persons not so licensed. A resident of a state which does not issue commercial licenses to take eels to residents of Connecticut shall not be eligible to obtain a commercial license to take eels in the waters of this state or to land eels in this state. No vessel shall be used to land any finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species for sale, barter, exchange, consignment or transportation to any point of sale unless an operator of the vessel is licensed for such purpose, except that any person who holds a commercial fishing license issued by the commissioner to fish by the method used to take such species, regardless of where such species were taken, shall not be required to obtain a landing license. No person shall take or attempt to take lobsters for personal use by hand or by scuba diving or skin diving unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner to take lobsters by such methods. No person shall take or attempt to take finfish for commercial purposes by the use of hook and line, including but not limited to rod and reel, hand line, set line, long line, or similar device unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner to use such gear for commercial purposes, except that notwithstanding the issuance of such a license, no person shall take finfish for commercial purposes in the inland district by the use of hook and line. No purse seine or similar device shall be used to take menhaden unless the vessel from which such purse seine or similar device is used, tenders excepted, is registered with the commissioner. The use of a purse seine or similar device to take species other than menhaden is prohibited. No pound net shall be used to take finfish unless such pound net is registered with the commissioner. Lobsters and blue crabs taken in pound nets shall be released unharmed. No person shall buy finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs, sea scallops or squid for resale from any commercial fisherman unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner. No person shall take or assist in taking blue crabs for commercial purposes except by scoop net, hand line or manually operated and personally attended devices approved by the commissioner and unless such person has been licensed by the commissioner. No person shall operate a charter boat, party boat or head boat for the purpose of fishing unless such boat has been registered for such purpose with the commissioner. The owner, operator or captain of any such boat may sell the boat's or crew's share of any catch if such sale is not prohibited on the basis of species, size or closed season. For the purposes of this chapter, a charter boat, party boat or head boat is a vessel carrying one or more crew members and which is operated for a fee for the purpose of transporting and providing a fishing platform for sport fishermen in the marine district. The commissioner may by regulations adopted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 exempt certain minnow seines, cast nets, scoop nets, traps, eel pots, seines less than thirty feet in length or any similar device used to take bait species and other species for personal use under a sport fishing license in the inland district and without a license in the marine district. Persons licensed, registered or issued a permit to engage in activities authorized by this subsection shall carry on their persons or in the vessel being used to engage in such activity the permit, license or registration covering such activity.

(b) The commissioner shall issue fishing licenses, vessel permits and registrations to qualified applicants upon the submission of an application, on forms provided by the commissioner, containing such information as prescribed by the commissioner, and upon the payment of such license, registration or permit fees as are required by subsection (c) of this section, except that a nonresident whose permit, license or registration in his state of residence has been voided or suspended shall have his Connecticut permit, license or registration voided or suspended during the suspension of such out-of-state permit, license or registration or until another permit, license or registration is obtained in his state of residence. The commissioner shall not issue any fishing license or registration or vessel permit to any applicant who has not met the reporting requirements of section 26-157b. NO VESSEL PERMIT SHALL BE ISSUED TO ANY PERSON FOR ANY VESSEL DURING THE TIME PERIOD THAT SUCH VESSEL PERMIT HAS BEEN REVOKED PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION (f) OF THIS SECTION. Any fishing license or registration or vessel permit issued by the commissioner shall be nontransferable and shall expire on the thirty-first day of December next following its issuance.

(c) The fee for the following fishing licenses and registrations and for a commercial fishing vessel permit shall be: (1) For a license to take blue crabs for commercial purposes, fifty dollars; (2) for a license to take lobsters for personal use, but not for sale, by the use of not more than ten lobster pots, traps or similar devices, or by skin diving, scuba diving or by hand, fifty dollars; (3) for a license to take lobsters, crabs other than blue crabs, squid, sea scallops and finfish, for personal use or for sale, by the use of more than ten lobster pots or similar devices, or by the use of any otter trawl, balloon trawl, beam trawl, sea scallop dredge or similar device, one hundred fifty dollars for residents of this state and two hundred twenty-five dollars for nonresidents, provided any such license issued to residents of states which do not issue commercial licenses conferring the same authority to take lobsters to residents of Connecticut shall be limited to the taking of crabs other than blue crabs, squid, sea scallops and finfish by the use of any otter trawl, balloon trawl, beam trawl, sea scallop dredge or similar device, and a nonresident shall not be issued such license if the laws of his state of residency concerning the taking of lobster are less restrictive than regulations adopted under the authority of section 26-157c; (4) for a license to set, tend or assist in setting or tending gill nets, seines, scap or scoop nets used to take shad, one hundred dollars; (5) for the registration of each pound net or similar device used to take finfish, one hundred dollars, provided persons setting, operating, tending or assisting in setting, operating or tending such pound nets shall not be required to be licensed; (6) for a license to set or tend gill nets, to tend or assist in setting or tending seines, traps, fish pots, cast nets, fykes, scaps, scoops, eel pots or similar devices to take finfish other than shad or bait species for commercial purposes, or, in any waters seaward of the inland district demarcation line, to take finfish other than shad or bait species for commercial purposes by hook and line, fifty dollars for residents of this state and one hundred dollars for nonresidents, and any such license obtained for the taking of any fish species for commercial purposes by hook and line, which species is regulated by a creel limit adopted under the authority of section 26-159a, one hundred dollars for residents of this state and two hundred dollars for nonresidents; (7) for a license to set, tend or assist in setting, operating or tending seines, traps, scaps, scoops, weirs or similar devices to take bait species in the inland district for commercial purposes, twenty dollars; (8) for a license to set, tend or assist in setting, operating or tending seines, traps, scaps, scoops or similar devices to take bait species in the marine district for commercial purposes, twenty dollars; (9) for the registration of any boat or vessel, except a tender, engaged in using a purse seine or similar device to take menhaden, fifty dollars for residents of this state and seven hundred fifty dollars for nonresidents; (10) for a license to buy finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species for resale from any commercial fisherman licensed to take or land such species for commercial purposes, regardless where taken, twenty-five dollars; (11) for the registration of any party boat, head boat or charter boat used for fishing, twenty-five dollars; (12) for a license to land finfish, lobsters, crabs, including blue crabs, sea scallops, squid or bait species, two hundred twenty-five dollars; (13) for a commercial fishing vessel permit, fifty dollars.

(d) The commissioner may determine for all waters of the state, including the inland and marine districts, areas within which commercial fishing gear may be set or used, the specifications and dimensions of such commercial fishing gear, including materials, length, depth, width, and size of mesh, the length of set lines or long lines, the number and size of hooks, and, for all commercial fishing and landing activities by persons issued either a commercial fishing vessel permit or a license by the commissioner, regardless where such activities take place, the species which may be taken, possessed or landed, the seasons in which species may be taken, possessed or landed, the number and size of finfish, squid and crabs, including blue crabs, which may be taken, possessed or landed and the rules regulating the use of commercial fishing gear, including hours or days of use, and the number of licenses, permits or registrations which may be issued. The commissioner may also order the emergency closure of any fishery if such closure is necessary to conform to regulations adopted under the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-265, as amended) or by other regional fisheries management authorities.

(e) The commissioner may, during and for any reasonable period of time prior to and after the spawning period of any inland or marine game fish or food fish, close any portion of any inland or marine water where any such fish congregate prior to or during the spawning season.

(f) The commissioner shall revoke any commercial fishing vessel permit issued under authority of subsection (b) upon conviction or upon the forfeiture of any bond taken upon any complaint, for the following offenses: (1) Possession of ten or more egg-bearing lobsters or lobsters from which the eggs have been removed; (2) [possession of lobsters less than the minimum length in excess of ten per cent of the lobsters on board or fifty lobsters,] POSSESSION OF EITHER: (A) TEN OR MORE LOBSTERS LESS THAN THE MINIMUM LENGTH IF SUCH LOBSTERS CONSTITUTE MORE THAN TEN PER CENT OF THE LOBSTERS ON BOARD; OR (B) FIFTY LOBSTERS WHICH ARE LESS THAN THE MINIMUM LENGTH whichever is the lesser amount; (3) [possession of finfish less than the minimum length in excess of ten per cent, by species, of the finfish on board or one hundred of each species,] POSSESSION OF EITHER: (A) TWENTY OR MORE FINFISH OF AT LEAST ONE SPECIES WHICH ARE LESS THAN THE MINIMUM LENGTH IF SUCH FINFISH CONSTITUTE MORE THAN TEN PER CENT OF THE FINFISH ON BOARD FOR THAT SPECIES; OR (B) ONE HUNDRED FINFISH OF AT LEAST ONE SPECIES WHICH ARE LESS THAN THE MINIMUM LENGTH whichever is the lesser amount; (4) for a second offense within seven hundred and thirty days in violation of regulations relating to bottom trawl nets adopted under section 26-142a; (5) for a second offense within seven hundred and thirty days for possession of finfish or lobsters more than ten per cent in excess of possession limits specified in regulations adopted under authority of section 26-157c or 26-159a. Said revocation period shall be for one hundred and eighty days for a first offense, one year for a second offense, two years for a third offense, and shall be permanent for a fourth offense. The provisions of this subsection are in addition to and in no way derogate from any other enforcement provision or penalty contained in any other statute.

(g) Any person who violates any provision of this part relating to commercial fishing vessel permits shall be fined no more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days or both, and each violation of any provision of this section relating to commercial fishing vessel permits shall constitute a separate offense.

(h) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (a) of this section, no [person] COMMERCIAL FISHING VESSEL PERMIT shall be required [to obtain a commercial fishing] FOR ANY vessel [permit for] USED FOR the operation of a charter, party or head boat or for a vessel used for taking of lobsters for personal use only OR A VESSEL USED FOR TAKING INLAND OR MARINE BAIT, BLUE CRABS, OR A VESSEL USED TO TAKE AMERICAN SHAD.

Approved April 29, 1996. Effective October 1, 1996.

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