CHAPTER 132

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 185

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 7 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO OYSTERS.

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 Chapter 21, Title 7, Delaware Code, by striking Chapter 21 in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"Chapter 21. Oysters.

§2101. Oyster Harvesting License.

It shall be unlawful for a person to harvest oysters from the natural oyster beds or from leased shellfish grounds in the State unless said person has been issued an oyster harvesting license by the Department.

(a) An oyster harvesting license shall be valid only on the vessel listed on said license by the Department. The Department shall not simultaneously list a vessel on more than three oyster harvesting licenses.

(b) The Department may list no more than one person as an apprentice on an oyster harvesting license.

(c) The fee for an oyster harvesting license shall be $57.50 for residents of this State.

(d) The fee for an oyster harvesting license shall be $575.00 for non-residents of this State.

§2102. Natural Oyster Beds.

(a) It shall be unlawful for a person to harvest oysters from the natural oyster beds at any time except as specifically authorized by the Department.

(b) The Department shall determine on an annual basis the amount of oysters available for harvest from specific natural oyster beds by analyzing the best available scientific data on said oysters.

§2103. Eligibility to harvest oyster for direct sale.

(a) It shall be unlawful for a person to harvest oysters from the natural oyster beds for direct sale unless said person meets one of the following criteria:

(1) Held at least two specific commercial shellfish licenses on September 30, 1999; or

(2) Held an oyster harvesting license to harvest oysters from natural oyster beds in Delaware prior to September 30, 1999; or

(3) Held a public oyster tonger’s license to take oysters from public tonging areas in Delaware prior to September 30, 1999; or

(4) Served as an apprentice to a person with an oyster harvesting license for two consecutive oyster harvesting seasons. An apprentice shall provide no less than three affidavits from different persons who are licensed to harvest oyster from the natural oyster beds for direct sale. Each affidavit shall attest the apprentice did work on an oyster harvesting licensees vessel while harvesting oysters from the State’s natural oyster beds for direct sale for the duration of two consecutive oyster harvesting seasons as established by the Department.

(b) Direct sale shall mean to immediately sell or attempt to sell oysters harvested from the State’s natural oyster beds to another person.

(c) It shall be unlawful for a person to harvest oysters from the natural oyster beds for

subsequent use other than direct sale.

§2104. Oyster Harvesting Methods.

(a) It shall be unlawful for a person to use any hydraulic dredge or mechanical device employing a vacuum or suction for the harvesting of oysters from any natural oyster bed without the prior written permission of the Department.

(b) It shall be unlawful for a person to harvest oysters from the State’s natural oyster beds without immediately culling said live oysters from all shell and other materials and returning said shell and other materials to the State’s natural oyster beds. Oyster shall be culled as a for said so that two bushels of oysters shall not contain more than five percent shells and other materials.

§2105. Oyster Harvest Fees and Tags.

(a) An annual oyster harvest fee of $1.25 per bushel of oysters harvested from the State’s natural oyster beds shall be prepaid to the Department by a resident of this State on or before specific dates established by the Department.

(b) An annual oyster harvest fee of $12.50 per bushel of oysters harvested from the State’s natural oyster beds shall be prepaid to the Department by non-residents of the State area before specific date(s) established by the Department.

(c) A person’s total oyster harvest fees shall be determined by dividing the number of bushels of oysters authorized to be harvested in a given year by the number of eligible persons who sign up to participate in the oyster harvest during said year multiplied by the appropriate oyster harvest fee.

(d) The Department shall issue tags to those persons who prepay their annual oyster harvest fees at the rate of one tag per bushel or one tag per 30 bushel cage.

(e) The Department shall notify each person who has been issued an oyster harvesting license of the amount of oysters available for harvest during a given year.

(f) Oyster harvesting tags once issued to a person by the Department shall not be reimbursable or transferable.

(g) It shall be unlawful for a person who harvests oysters from the natural oyster beds of this State for direct sale to not place said oysters in a bushel bag or 30 bushel cage prior to landing said oysters. Landing shall mean to bring to shore.

(h) It shall be unlawful for a person who harvests oysters from the natural oyster beds of this State for direct sale to not attach an oyster harvesting tag in the locked position to a bushel bag or 30 bushel cage containing oysters prior to landing said oysters.

(i) It shall be unlawful for a person to attach an oyster harvesting tag, which had been previously attached to a bushel bag or a 30 bushel cage, to another bushel bag or 30 bushel cage.

(j) It shall be unlawful for any person to have any bushel bag or 30 bushel cage that is empty or partially filled with oysters on board a vessel that has an oyster harvesting tag attached.

§2106. Authority.

(a) The Department is authorized to adopt shellfish regulations to establish the dates for annual open seasons to harvest oysters from the State’s natural oyster beds.

(b) The Department is authorized to adopt shellfish regulations to establish the areas where oysters, that are harvested from the State’s natural oyster beds for direct sale shall be landed.

(c) The Department is authorized to adopt shellfish regulations to govern the type and amount of gear or equipment that may be used to harvest oysters from the State’s natural oyster beds.

(d) The Department is authorized to adopt shellfish regulations to establish a minimum size of oysters for harvest.

(e) The Department is authorized to adopt shellfish regulations to establish an annual oyster harvest quota.

§2107. Oyster Recovery Fund.

(a) There is hereby established an Oyster Recovery Fund which shall be funded from the following sources:

(1) Fee received by the Department for oyster harvesting licenses,

(2) Revenue received by the Department for oyster harvest fees, and

(3) Fees received for leasing shellfish grounds in Delaware Bay.

(b) Oyster Recovery Funds shall be used by the Department for the following:

(1) To purchase shells to be placed on natural oyster beds;

(2) To purchase oysters to be placed on natural oyster beds;

(3) To conduct research on oysters;

(4) To transfer oysters from one natural bed to another.

2108§2108. Importation of Oyster Prohibited.

2109It shall be unlawful for a person to bring oysters from outside the State to be placed in the waters of the State without the prior written permission of the Department.

§2109. Oyster Harvesting From Private Leased Beds.

2110(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest oysters from leased shellfish grounds unless said person notifies the Department of said harvest at least 48 hours prior to harvesting oysters from leased shellfish grounds.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest oysters from natural oyster beds on any date said person notified the Department when he or she would be harvesting oysters from leased shellfish grounds."

Section 2. Amend §1912(a) of Title 7 by deleting the phrase "2102".

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Approved July 09, 2001