State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_143B > GS_143B-279_8

§ 143B‑279.8. Coastal Habitat Protection Plans.

(a)        The Department shall coordinate the preparation of draftCoastal Habitat Protection Plans for critical fisheries habitats. The goal ofthe Plans shall be the long‑term enhancement of coastal fisheries associatedwith each coastal habitat identified in subdivision (1) of this subsection. TheDepartment shall use the staff of those divisions within the Department thathave jurisdiction over marine fisheries, water quality, and coastal areamanagement in the preparation of the Coastal Habitat Protection Plans and shallrequest assistance from other federal and State agencies as necessary. Theplans shall:

(1)        Describe and classify biological systems in the habitats,including wetlands, fish spawning grounds, estuarine or aquatic endangered orthreatened species, primary or secondary nursery areas, shellfish beds,submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds, and habitats in outstanding resourcewaters.

(2)        Evaluate the function, value to coastal fisheries, status, andtrends of the habitats.

(3)        Identify existing and potential threats to the habitats andthe impact on coastal fishing.

(4)        Recommend actions to protect and restore the habitats.

(b)        Once a draft Coastal Habitat Protection Plan has beenprepared, the chairs of the Coastal Resources Commission, the EnvironmentalManagement Commission, and the Marine Fisheries Commission shall each appointtwo members of the commission he or she chairs to a six‑member reviewcommittee. The six‑member review committee, in consultation with theDepartment, shall review the draft Plan and may revise the draft Plan on aconsensus basis. The draft Plan, as revised by the six‑member reviewcommittee, shall then be submitted to the Coastal Resources Commission, theEnvironmental Management Commission, and the Marine Fisheries Commission, eachof which shall independently consider the Plan for adoption. If any of thethree commissions is unable to agree to any aspect of a Plan, the chair of eachcommission shall refer that aspect of the Plan to a six‑member conferencecommittee to facilitate the resolution of any differences. The six‑memberconference committee shall be appointed in the same manner as a six‑memberreview committee and may include members of the six‑member review committeethat reviewed the Plan. Each final Coastal Habitat Protection Plan shallconsist of those provisions adopted by all three commissions. The threecommissions shall review and revise each Coastal Habitat Protection Plan atleast once every five years.

(c)        In carrying out their powers and duties, the CoastalResources Commission, the Environmental Management Commission, and the MarineFisheries Commission shall ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, thattheir actions are consistent with the Coastal Habitat Protection Plans asadopted by the three commissions. The obligation to act in a manner consistentwith a Coastal Habitat Protection Plan is prospective only and does not obligeany commission to modify any rule adopted, permit decision made, or otheraction taken prior to the adoption or revision of the Coastal HabitatProtection Plan by the three commissions. The Coastal Resources Commission, theEnvironmental Management Commission, and the Marine Fisheries Commission shalladopt rules to implement Coastal Habitat Protection Plans in accordance withChapter 150B of the General Statutes.

(d)        If any of the three commissions concludes that anothercommission has taken an action that is inconsistent with a Coastal HabitatProtection Plan, that commission may request a written explanation of theaction from the other commission. A commission shall provide a writtenexplanation: (i) upon the written request of one of the other two commissions,or (ii) upon its own motion if the commission determines that it must take anaction that is inconsistent with a Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

(e)        The Coastal Resources Commission, the EnvironmentalManagement Commission, and the Marine Fisheries Commission shall report to theJoint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture and the EnvironmentalReview Commission on progress in developing and implementing the CoastalHabitat Protection Plans, including the extent to which the actions of thethree commissions are consistent with the Plans, on or before 1 September ofeach year.

(f)         The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources shallreport to the Environmental Review Commission and the Joint LegislativeCommission on Seafood and Aquaculture within 30 days of the completion orsubstantial revision of each draft Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. TheEnvironmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Commission on Seafoodand Aquaculture shall concurrently review each draft Coastal Habitat ProtectionPlan within 30 days of the date the draft Plan is submitted by the Secretary.The Environmental Review Commission and the Joint Legislative Commission onSeafood and Aquaculture may submit comments and recommendations on the draftPlan to the Secretary within 30 days of the date the draft Plan is submitted bythe Secretary. (1997‑400, s.3.1; 1997‑443, s. 11A.119(b).)