State Derelict Fishing Gear Laws and Regulations
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State Derelict Fishing Gear Laws and Regulations

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    This report includes case studies and state law summaries for the project, "Increasing Awareness of the Legal Framework Governing Removal of Marine Debris and Placement of Fishing Gear in the New England Region." In 2015, the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law received a grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy Partnership to help New England managers to assess the feasibility of implementing innovative derelict fishing gear removal strategies in their states. Lost nets and other heavy fishing equipment can damage ecosystems as they are moved by tides and waves along the sea floor, as well as impact navigational safety, damage active fishing equipment and boats, and cause economic repercussions for coastal industries and communities across the country. The laws and regulations governing the removal of derelict fishing gear vary by fishery and state. To assess the feasibility of implementing innovative removal strategies in their states, New England managers need a better understanding of the current legal framework governing derelict fishing gear removal and how existing state marine debris programs are authorized. As a first step towards increasing awareness and improving understanding of state derelict fishing gear laws and regulation, the NSGLC compiled the relevant laws and regulations related to derelict fishing gear for eleven priority states as identified by NFWF (Washington, California, Maine Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Relevant statutory and regulatory provisions were identified through traditional legal research methods. Each state compilation was sent to appropriate state agency contacts for review and feedback. For the priority states, the NSGLC analyzed the compiled laws and regulations to address several key management questions identified by the project Advisory Committee convened in January 2016. Committee members include: Sarah Cotnoir, Maine Department of Marine Resources; Dan McKiernan, Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs; Cheri Patterson, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department; Daniel Costa, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management; Rachel Keylon and Keith Cialino, NOAA Marine Debris Program. For each state, the NSGLC addressed the following: state definitions for derelict fishing gear; requirements for marking gear and attending gear; prohibitions on “molesting” gear; requirements or authorizations to remove gear; closed periods for gear removal; and, other relevant definitions for derelict or abandoned property. Draft summaries were also sent to each state for review and comment. In addition to identifying the priority management questions, the Committee also identified model removal programs and strategies that could potentially be used by New England states. The NSGLC drafted legal cases studies of these six programs to gain a solid understanding of how they operate and provide a foundation for assessing their transferability to the New England region. Each short (2-3 page) narrative case study details how the program was authorized, responsible entity, and regulatory and permitting requirements. The case studies are included as Appendix A and state summaries as Appendix B.
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Version 3.18