Fish and Wildlife

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Compact

SECTION 20-8-1

§ 20-8-1. Entry into compact authorized – Text.

The governor of this state is hereby authorized and directed to execute a compact on behalf of the state of Rhode Island with any one or more of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and with such other states as may enter into the compact, legally joining therein in the form substantially as follows:


The contracting states solemnly agree:


The purpose of this compact is to promote the better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell and anadromous, of the Atlantic seaboard by the development of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries, and by the prevention of the physical waste of the fisheries from any cause. It is not the purpose of this compact to authorize the states joining herein to limit the production of fish or fish products for the purpose of establishing or fixing the price thereof, or creating and perpetuating monopoly.


This agreement shall become operative immediately as to those states executing it whenever any two or more of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida have executed it in the form that is in accordance with the laws of the executing state and the Congress has given its consent. Any state contiguous with any of the aforementioned states and riparian upon waters frequented by anadromous fish, flowing into waters under the jurisdiction of any of the aforementioned states, may become a party hereto as hereinafter provided.


Each state joining herein shall appoint three (3) representatives to a commission hereby constituted and designated as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. One shall be the executive officer of the administrative agency of such state charged with the conservation of the fisheries resources to which this compact pertains or, if there be more than one (1) officer or agency, the official of that state named by the governor thereof. The second shall be a member of the legislature of such state designated by the commission or committee on interstate co-operation of such state, or if there be none, or if said commission on interstate co-operation cannot constitutionally designate the said member, such legislator shall be designated by the governor thereof; provided, that if it is constitutionally impossible to appoint a legislator as a commissioner from such state, the second member shall be appointed by the governor of such state in his or her discretion. The third shall be a citizen who shall have a knowledge of and interest in the marine fisheries problem to be appointed by the governor. This commission shall be a body corporate with the powers and duties set forth herein.


The duty of the said commission shall be to make inquiry and ascertain from time to time such methods, practices, circumstances and conditions as may be disclosed for bringing about the conservation and the prevention of the depletion and physical waste of the fisheries, marine, shell and anadromous, of the Atlantic seaboard. The commission shall have power to recommend the co-ordination of the exercise of the police powers of the several states within their respective jurisdictions to promote the preservation of those fisheries and their protection against overfishing, waste, depletion or any abuse whatsoever and to assure a continuing yield from the fisheries resources of the aforementioned states.

To that end the commission shall draft and, after consultation with the advisory committee hereinafter authorized, recommend to the governors and legislatures of the various signatory states legislation dealing with the conservation of the marine, shell and anadromous fisheries of the Atlantic seaboard. The commission shall, more than one (1) month prior to any regular meeting of the legislature in any signatory state, present to the governor of the state its recommendations relating to enactments to be made by the legislature of that state in furthering the intents and purposes of this compact.

The commission shall consult with and advise the pertinent administrative agencies in the states party hereto with regard to problems connected with the fisheries and recommend the adoption of such regulations as it deems advisable.

The commission shall have power to recommend to the states party hereto the stocking of the waters of such states with fish and fish eggs or joint stocking by some or all of the states party hereto and when two or more of the states shall jointly stock waters the commission shall act as the co-ordinating agency for such stocking.


The commission shall elect from its number a chairman and a vice chairman and shall appoint and at its pleasure remove or discharge such officers and employees as may be required to carry the provisions of this compact into effect and shall fix and determine their duties, qualifications and compensation. Said commission shall adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of its business. It may establish and maintain one or more offices for the transaction of its business and may meet at any time or place but must meet at least once a year.


No action shall be taken by the commission in regard to its general affairs except by the affirmative vote of a majority of the whole number of compacting states present at any meeting. No recommendation shall be made by the commission in regard to any species of fish except by the affirmative vote of a majority of the compacting states which have an interest in such species. The commission shall define what shall be an interest.


The fish and wildlife service of the department of the interior of the government of the United States shall act as the primary research agency of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission co-operating with the research agencies in each state for that purpose. Representatives of the said fish and wildlife service shall attend the meetings of the commission.

An advisory committee to be representative of the commercial fishers and the salt-water anglers and such other interests of each state as the commission deems advisable shall be established by the commission as soon as practicable for the purpose of advising the commission upon such recommendations as it may desire to make.


When any state other than those named specifically in article II of this compact shall become a party thereto for the purpose of conserving its anadromous fish in accordance with the provisions of article II the participation of such state in the action of the commission shall be limited to such species of anadromous fish.


Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit the powers of any signatory state or to repeal or prevent the enactment of any legislation or the enforcement of any requirement by any signatory state imposing additional conditions and restrictions to conserve its fisheries.


Continued absence of representation or of any representative on the commission from any state party hereto shall be brought to the attention of the governor thereof.


The states party hereto agree to make annual appropriations to the support of the commission in proportion to the primary market value of the products of their fisheries, exclusive of cod and haddock, as recorded in the most recent published reports of the fish and wildlife service of the United States department of the interior, provided, no state shall contribute less than two hundred dollars ($200) per annum and the annual contribution of each state above the minimum shall be figured to the nearest one hundred dollars ($100).

The compacting states agree to appropriate initially the annual amounts scheduled below, which amounts are calculated in the manner set forth herein, on the basis of the catch record of 1938. Subsequent budgets shall be recommended by a majority of the commission and the cost thereof allocated equitably among the states in accordance with their respective interests and submitted to the compacting states.

Schedule of Initial Annual State Contributions.

Maine $ 700

New Hampshire 200

Massachusetts 2300

Rhode Island 300

Connecticut 400

New York 1300

New Jersey 800

Delaware 200

Maryland 700

Virginia 1300

North Carolina 600

South Carolina 200

Georgia 200

Florida 1500


This compact shall continue in force and remain binding upon each compacting state until renounced by it. Renunciation of this compact must be preceded by sending six (6) months' notice in writing of intention to withdraw from the compact to the other states party hereto.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1941, ch. 1021, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 20-8-1.)