CHAPTER 107

FORMERLY SENATE BILL NO. 268

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND

HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTERS 19 AND 21 OF TITLE 7, DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE TONGING OF OYSTERS IN THE DELAWARE BAY AND PROVIDING FOR PENALTY THEREOF.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section I. Amend Chapter 19, Section 1908, Title 7, Delaware Code, by adding thereto the following new rules and regulations:

(19) The Department shall designate areas in the Delaware Bay for the purpose of tonging oysters.

(20) All oysters and clams taken and intended to be sold for market shall be brought into the ports, harbors and shores located within the State of Delaware.

(21) Any boats used for the planting, gathering, or taking of oysters or clams from the Delaware Bay for commercial purposes shall be owned and operated by a resident of the State of Delaware and licensed by the State of Delaware.

(0) All persons licensed to take oysters and clams in the waters of this State shall make a report no later than June 30 of each year to the Department stating the number of bushels of market oysters harvested during the preceding harvest season. Upon failure to do so, the oyster or clam catching license shall be revoked.

Section 2. Amend Chapter 21, of Title 7, Delaware Code, by adding thereto a new Section to be designated as Section 2111 to read as follows:

§ 2111. Delaware Bay oyster tonging areas; fees, legal size; violations; requirements; penalty

The Department shall designate certain areas of the leased oyster bottom which are now vacant and other areas in the bay for use as public tonging areas. The Department shall assume the responsibility of staking, marking and planting of seed oysters on the aforesaid public tonging areas.

(a) Definitions.

Wherever used in this Section the following terms shall be interpreted as and for the meaning herein defined:

(1) Tongs — any pincers, nippers, tongs or similar device operated entirely by hand and consisting of two shafts or handles and a metal body composed of two opposable and complementary baskets used in taking or catching oysters.

(2) Patent tongs — any pincers, nippers, tongs or similar device used to take or catch oysters and raised with rope, cable or other hoisting gear.

(3) Tong boat — any boat on which or from which tongs or patent tongs are used in taking or catching oysters.

(4) Public tonging area — areas designated by the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control where the taking of market oysters is limited to patent tongs or tongs.

(5) Natural oyster rock — any submerged oyster bar, reef, rock or area represented as an oyster bar north of the east line on the charts of the Moore Oyster Survey of 1911, or the Hess Oyster Survey of 1967, or any such area which is declared as such by the Department.

(0) Packer — any person as defined herein having a fixed place of business and buying, selling, packing, shucking or preparing oysters or clams for sale, trade, barter or shipment to any dealer, merchant or retailer.

(7) Shellfish — any species of invertebrates including crabs, clams, oysters, mussels, or any mollusk or crustacean.

(8) Resident — means any person not an alien who has resided a year or more within this State.

(b) Tonging license fee for the taking of oysters from public tonging areas in the Delaware Bay.

(1) Any person who is engaged in the catching or taking of oysters by tongs or patent tongs for commercial use from the public tonging areas in the Delaware Bay shall be required to secure from the Department an annual tongers license on or before the first day of April in each year, the cost of which shall be fifty dollars ($50.00).

(0) A fee of fifty cents ($.50) per bushel shall be paid to the Department for all market oysters caught by means of tongs or patent tongs within the public tonging areas of the Delaware Bay, to be submitted by the producer or catcher to the Department on or before the first day of each month for the amount due for the preceding month. Upon failure by the person to do so, his tongers license shall be revoked.

(1) No person shall use catching devices other than patent tongs or hand tongs for the catching of oysters from the above designated areas.

(2) The captain or operator and crews of tonging vessels operating within the public tonging area shall be bona fide residents of the State for twelve (12) months preceding.

(3) No more than two (2) hydraulic patent tongs may be used per boat in the catching of market oysters from the public tonging areas in the Delaware Bay.

(4) No oysters which measure less than three (3) inches from hinge to mouth shall at any time be taken from the public tonging areas in the Delaware Bay, or be in the possession of any person after being so taken; except that this prohibition shall not apply to spat adhering so closely as to be impossible to remove without destruction; but in no case shall spat, shells and other material amount to more than five per centum (5%) of any catch or cargo.

(7) The amount of market oysters taken from public tonging areas in the Delaware Bay shall not be less than fifteen (I5} bushels of oysters per licensed tonger per day unless otherwise directed by the Department.

Approved June 2, 1971.