§ 20-2.2-1. Findings.
The general assembly finds and declares:
(1) The constitution of the state places plenary authority and responsibility in the general assembly to provide for the conservation of the natural resources of the state, including its marine fisheries;
(2) The state of Rhode Island has historically established programs to provide for and regulate the harvesting and taking of marine fish for recreational purposes;
(3) The federal government and regional entities have established and continue to establish regulatory programs, management measures, quotas, and other restrictions that affect persons engaged in marine recreational fisheries in Rhode Island, and Rhode Island functions in whole or in part in the context of federal and regional programs, depending on the fishery;
(4) The regulatory programs, management measures, quotas, and other restrictions governing marine recreational fisheries are based primarily on catch and effort statistics from recreational fisherman, and on fishery resource assessments, that gauge the biological status of fish stocks;
(5) Since 1979, recreational fishing assessments have been derived from the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS), administered by the federal government in partnership with the states;
(6) In 2006, Congress acknowledged major flaws in the accuracy of the assessments provided by MRFSS and called upon the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to undertake programmatic reforms, including the establishment of a universal registry of all saltwater anglers to provide a more accurate and efficient means for acquiring recreational catch and effort data;
(7) In 2008, NMFS initiated a new Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) to replace MRFSS and enacted rules requiring marine recreational fisherman to either register under a new national program, or be registered or licensed by a state program that meets federal requirements;
(8) All coastal states have enacted, or are in the process of enacting, marine recreational fishing license or registry programs;
(9) The interests of recreational saltwater anglers in Rhode Island can best be met by establishing a state program that meets federal requirements, contributes to improved state-based recreational fishing assessments and stock assessments, and supports fair and effective regulatory programs and quota allocations for Rhode Island's marine recreational fisheries;
(10) Additionally, the interests of recreational saltwater anglers in Rhode Island are well served by a program that supports improved and expanded opportunities for the public to access the marine waters of the state; and
(11) The use of license fee revenues for any purpose other than managing recreational fisheries and enhancing recreational fishing opportunities would: violate the terms of § 20-9-3 and trigger a discontinuation of all federal funding provided to Rhode Island pursuant to the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 777777k); conflict with legislative intent, as set forth in § 20-3.1-7(3); veer from the restricted use requirements governing freshwater fishing, commercial fishing, and hunting license fee revenues; affect compliance with the requirements of this chapter; and compromise the purposes of this chapter.
(P.L. 2009, ch. 375, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 379, § 1.)