CHAPTER 33

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 57

AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 2 AND 3

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7, DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO HORSESHOE CRABS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two-thirds of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):

Section 1. Amend §1901(18), Chapter 19, Title 7, Delaware Code by striking §1901(18) and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"(18) 'Shellfish' means any mollusca, crustacea and chilicerata that includes oysters, clams, lobsters, mussels, whelks, crabs, shrimp, and horseshoe crabs."

Section 2. Amend Title 7, Delaware Code by adding thereto a new chapter to read as follows:

"Chapter 27. HORSESHOE CRABS (Limulus polyphemus) §2701. Authority of the Department

(a) The Department shall establish and administer a program for the conservation and management of horseshoe crabs. Such program shall include the promulgation of regulations for:

1) Administration of a permitting system and issuance of permits as defined by this Act;

2) Designation of areas for harvest and restriction as necessary to sensitive habitat and public safety;

3) Definition of acceptable equipment and methods of harvest;

4) Designation of lawful seasons for collection; and

5) Establishment of limits or the quantities to be harvested.

6) Establish reporting requirements for all permit holders authorized to take horseshoe crabs.

(b) Before implementing rules and regulations, and any subsequent

changes thereto, the Department shall conduct a public hearing on the proposed regulations. The Department shall publish notice of a public hearing in newspapers of general circulation in the State no less than 20 days in advance of the public hearing. Said notice shall include a brief description of the proposed regulation, the time, and location of the public hearing and the manner in which the public may respond to the Department on the proposed regulation. The regulations shall be filed with the Secretary of State prior to implementation.

(c) The Department shall be authorized to adopt interim regulations notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this Act in order to implement administrative procedures and the provisions of subsection (a) of this Act in a timely manner. These interim regulations may be adopted by the Department for a period not to exceed 90 days. Interim regulations shall become effective upon the date they are filed with the Secretary of State.

(d) The Department shall be further authorized to adopt emergency regulations notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b) of this Act when such regulations are necessary to deal with an actual or eminent threat to the horseshoe crab resources and the fishery thereof. Emergency regulations may be adopted by the Department for a period not to exceed 90 days. As soon as practicable after adoption of emergency regulations hereunder, the Department shall conduct a public hearing on the matter in accordance with §2701(b) for the purpose of implementing regulations.

Emergency regulations shall become effective upon the date they are filed with the Secretary of State.

§2702. Scientific Collecting Permit.

The Department may issue a scientific collecting permit to a person to permit the collecting of horseshoe crabs solely for scientific, medical or educational purposes. There shall be no fee for this collecting permit. The person shall apply to the Department for a collecting permit on an application provided by the Department, and shall present in writing the specific purpose for which the horseshoe crab will be used and shall present credible evidence that the disposition of the horseshoe crabs collected shall be for scientific, medical, or educational purposes. Where possible only males shall be collected. Also, those collected for above purposes shall be returned to the original habitat when feasible.

§2703. Dredging.

Unless otherwise authorized by the Department, it shall be unlawful for any person to use dredges to take horseshoe crabs in this State unless said person has a valid horseshoe crab dredge permit issued annually by the Department. The fee for a resident horseshoe crab dredge permit shall be $100.00. The fee for a non resident horseshoe crab dredge permit shall be $1,000.00. The Department shall not issue a horseshoe crab dredge permit to any person unless said person is the current owner and operator of an oyster vessel licensed to transplant oysters from natural oyster beds as provided under the provisions of Chapter 19, Title 7 of the Delaware Code

and shellfish regulations adopted by the Department. The permit shall

designate the vessel to be used to dredge for horseshoe crabs. The

Department shall not issue more than five (5) horseshoe crab dredge permits during any one calendar year.

§2704. Collecting Permits for Other Than Scientific Purposes.

(a) A commercial collecting permit shall be required of any individual sixteen years of age or older, (including a property owner), collecting horseshoe crabs, except for personal, non-commercial uses. The collection fee to obtain a commercial collecting permit for residents of Delaware shall be $100. The collection fee to obtain a commercial collecting permit for non-residents shall be $1,000. A commercial collecting permit shall not be required of a property owner, his tenant, or agent, on those lands from which crabs are taken for personal usage. An agent or tenant shall mean a person who has written permission from the property owner of the land from which horseshoe crabs are taken to act on the owner's behalf.

(b) Any municipality, town, other local government, or individual who collect dead horseshoe crabs in order to clean up a beach or to otherwise dispose of said crabs properly shall be required to obtain a beach clean-up collecting permit. There shall be no fee for a beach clean-up collecting permit.

(c) Unless authorized by a scientific collecting permit issued by the Department, it shall be unlawful for any person to take or attempt to take horseshoe crabs by any method unless said person has obtained a valid collecting permit as provided in this Section.

(d) When by or pursuant to the laws or regulations of any other state should said state impose any tax, other fee or restrictions on nonresidents for the privilege of commercially collecting horseshoe crabs within its boundaries, which tax, or other fee is in the aggregate greater or restriction is greater to include but not be limited to the nonavailability of a permit for nonresidents, the similar or identical taxes, other fees, permit requirements and restrictions shall be imposed by the Department upon the residents of that state who seek to apply for a commercial collecting permit from the Department to collect horseshoe crabs within the boundaries of this State.

§2705. Penalties.

(a) Any person who is convicted two times in the same calendar year for violations of this Chapter of any regulation promulgated by the Department pursuant thereto shall be subject to the following provisions:

1) If the person holds a valid permit at the time of the second conviction, said permit shall be revoked by the Department. Persons whose permits are revoked shall not be eligible to reapply for a permit under this Chapter until five (5) years after the date of revocation.

2) If said person does not hold a valid permit at the time of the second conviction, such person shall not be eligible to apply for any permit outlined in this Chapter for a period of five (5) years after the second conviction.

(b) Any person convicted of a violation of any provision of this Chapter or any regulation promulgated by the Department pursuant thereto, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 for each violation, plus payment of all costs. Each individual horseshoe crab taken in
violation of any provision of this Chapter or regulation promulgated by the Department pursuant thereto shall constitute a separate violation.

(c) Justice of the Peace Court shall have jurisdiction over violations of this Chapter.

(d) The Department shall not renew any permit to collect or dredge horseshoe crabs until the applicant has reported his harvest of the previous calendar year's total number of horseshoe crabs to the Department on forms provided by the Department."

Approved May 16, 1991.