OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1018

AN ACT CONCERNING ENFORCEMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION LAWS.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes various changes in the environmental conservation laws. It:

1. lowers the fine, from up to $1,000 to up to $95, for importing, possessing, or liberating fish or aquatic invasive species;

2. authorizes the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to suspend a marine waters fishing license following violations of marine sport fishing regulations;

3. requires people to have a marine waters fishing license to use certain seines, nets, and traps for taking marine bait species;

4. authorizes the DEEP commissioner to specify marking requirements for commercial fishing vessels and gear in regulation; and

5. makes minor and technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Various, see below.

2-3, 9 — PENALTY FOR AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES

The law prohibits importing, introducing, possessing, or liberating any live fish, wild bird or mammal, reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate into Connecticut. Violators are subject to a penalty of up to $1,000, to be set by the court, for each offense.

The bill lowers the fine to up to $95 for violators who import, introduce, possess, or liberate any live fish or aquatic nuisance invertebrates (e.g., Asian carp or zebra mussels). Importing, possessing, or liberating each fish or invertebrate is a separate offense, and each day of a continuing violation is a separate offense. The bill allows such violators to pay the fine by mail to the Central Infractions Bureau without making a court appearance.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

4-5 — MARINE WATERS FISHING LICENSE

License Suspension

The bill allows DEEP to suspend a marine waters fishing license following violations of marine sport fishing regulations.

The law authorizes DEEP to suspend hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses following violations of fish and game laws and regulations. But, currently, violations of the regulations that set marine fishery creel and length limits and seasons are exempt from this suspension authority. The bill eliminates this exemption.

License Required to Use Seines, Nets, and Traps

The bill requires a person to have a marine waters fishing license to use certain seines, nets, and traps to take bait species and other species for personal use in the marine district. By law, a person with a sport fishing license can use the seines, nets, and traps to take such species in the inland district.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2013

6 — TAKING FINFISH WITH LOBSTER POT LICENSE

The bill requires finfish taken incidentally under a personal use lobster pot license to meet the sport fishing length limits and seasons adopted in regulations in accordance with state law. Existing law requires the finfish to meet the regulation's sport fishing creel limits.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2013

7-8, 10 — MARKING COMMERCIAL FISHING BOATS AND GEAR

The bill repeals the law that sets requirements for marking commercial fishing boats and gear. It instead authorizes the DEEP commissioner to specify marking requirements in regulations.

In doing so, it reduces, from a class D misdemeanor to an infraction, the penalty for violating the marking requirements. By law, a violation of the regulations is an infraction. A violation of the current marking requirements statute is a class D misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250, imprisonment of up to 30 days, or both.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2014

COMMITTEE ACTION

Environment Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

28

Nay

0

(03/25/2013)