A N A C T
RELATING TO FISH AND WILDLIFE
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Chapter 20-2 of the General Laws entitled "Licensing" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
20-2-45. Narragansett Bay Oyster Restoration Act. - (a) Findings of fact. The general assembly hereby finds and declares the following:
(1) Oyster fishery has historically been important to Rhode Island for economic and ecosystem benefits;
(2) The Rhode Island oyster fishery has been in deep decline and is a fraction of its historical levels due to disease;
(3) The development of indigenous disease-resistant oyster brood stock will assist in the restoration of the oyster population in Narragansett Bay;
(4) The plantings of indigenous disease-resistant oyster shellfish seed stock will increase the Narragansett Bay's oyster population and annual harvest; and
(5) An increase in oyster population will have a positive impact on the state's economy and the overall health of Narragansett Bay and its ecosystem.
(b) Authority to solicit federal funds for oyster restoration. The general assembly hereby vests in the director of the department of environmental management, acting through the division of agriculture, authority and responsibility to solicit annual federal funding, including but not limited to, funding from the United States departments of interior, agriculture and commerce for purposes of developing, restoring, and maintaining both the oyster population and oyster habitats in and around Narragansett Bay.
(c) Program to achieve oyster restoration in Narragansett Bay. The director of the department of environmental management shall work in conjunction with the aquaculture coordinator located in the coastal resources management council to develop programs that address the declining oyster population in Narragansett Bay and which programs shall further promote the development, restoration and maintenance of the oyster population and oyster habitats in and around Narragansett Bay, as set forth in this section.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.