An Act To Amend Maine's Aquaculture Leasing and Licensing Statutes
Sec. 1. 12 MRSA §6072, sub-§6, ¶C, as amended by PL 1997, c. 138, §5 and PL 2011, c. 657, Pt. W, §5, is further amended to read:
Sec. 2. 12 MRSA §6072, sub-§11, as amended by PL 2003, c. 247, §7, is further amended to read:
Sec. 3. 12 MRSA §6072, sub-§12, as amended by PL 2011, c. 93, §3, is further amended to read:
If a person who holds a lease pursuant to this section applies to renew the lease, the lease remains in effect until the commissioner makes a decision on the renewal application. If the renewal is denied, the lease expires 30 days after the date of the commissioner's decision.
When aquaculture has not been routinely or substantially conducted on a lease that is proposed for renewal, the commissioner may renew the lease, as long as the proposed renewal will continue to meet the criteria for approval in subsection 7-A.
A lease renewal is an adjudicatory proceeding under Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 4. Public notice must be given as required under subsection 6 and a to the known riparian owners, the municipal officials of the municipality or municipalities in which or adjacent to which the lease is located and any interested parties that have provided a written request for notification; under the provisions of Title 5, section 9052, to the general public; and, for leases involving activities that have a discharge, to the Department of Environmental Protection. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife must be notified of all lease renewal applications. A person may provide to the commissioner comments on the proposed lease renewal within 30 days of receipt of notice or within 30 days of publication of the proposed renewal. A hearing must be held if it is requested in writing by 5 persons within the 30 days. The commissioner may review multiple leases concurrently during the lease renewal process.
A lease renewal application must include a nonrefundable application fee of no more than $1,500, the amount to be set by the commissioner depending on the type of aquaculture permitted by the lease.
Sec. 4. 12 MRSA §6072, sub-§12-A, ¶C, as amended by PL 2009, c. 229, §2, is further amended to read:
Sec. 5. 12 MRSA §6072, sub-§12-C, as enacted by PL 2017, c. 159, §4, is amended to read:
(1) Describing the location of the proposed lease expansion area by coordinates or metes and bounds;
(2) Characterizing the physical and ecological impact of the lease expansion on existing uses of the site and any adverse effects on existing uses of the area, as defined by rules adopted by the commissioner;
(3) Including the written permission of every riparian owner whose land to the low-water mark will be used;
(4) Including a map of the lease area and its proposed expansion, and its adjoining waters and shorelands, with the names and addresses of the known riparian owners as listed in the municipal tax records and documentation showing that the lease holder has informed each of those riparian owners of the application and the opportunity for comment as provided in paragraph B;
(5) Including an environmental evaluation of the site upon which the decision to seek an expansion of the lease was made. The evaluation must include, but is not limited to, bottom characteristics, resident flora and fauna and hydrography of the site if appropriate for the proposed lease; and
(6) Including a nonrefundable application fee of at least $100, but not more than $2,000, the amount to be set by the commissioner depending on the proposed acreage, type of aquaculture proposed and complexity of the expansion application.
Sec. 6. 12 MRSA §6072, sub-§13, as amended by PL 2017, c. 159, §5, is further amended to read:
Rules adopted pursuant to this subsection are routine technical rules as defined in Title 5, chapter 375, subchapter 2-A.
Sec. 7. 12 MRSA §6072-A, sub-§8, as amended by PL 2013, c. 509, §4, is further amended to read:
Sec. 8. 12 MRSA §6072-C, sub-§2, as amended by PL 2017, c. 159, §6, is further amended to read:
Sec. 9. 12 MRSA §6072-C, sub-§6, as amended by PL 2009, c. 229, §7, is further amended to read:
This bill amends the aquaculture leasing and licensing statutes to:
1. Provide that the Department of Environmental Protection receives notices only of those lease applications that involve activities that have a discharge;
2. Expand the reasons under which the Commissioner of Marine Resources may initiate lease revocation proceedings to include operating in a manner substantially injurious to public health or violating minimum lease standards;
3. Reduce the number of days in advance of which an individual must apply for the renewal of a lease from 90 days prior to the expiration to 30 days prior to the expiration;
4. Clarify notice requirements when a standard lease is proposed for renewal;
5. Require the fee for a lease transfer to be paid upon application for the transfer instead of at the execution of the lease;
6. Specify that a person may not apply for an expansion of a lease until the person has held that lease for a minimum of 2 years;
7. Move the responsibility for notifying riparian landowners of an application for a lease expansion from the applicant to the Department of Marine Resources and move the responsibility for providing public notice in the newspaper from the department to the applicant;
8. Establish the rule-making authority for the commissioner to establish fees for services provided by the department to lease holders if they request testing or studies to ensure their products are safe for human consumption;
9. Broaden the language allowing changes to leases and require the commissioner to establish a fee for making changes to a lease;
10. Remove the commissioner's rule-making authority regarding changes to limited-purpose leases;
11. Limit the ability of the holder of a limited-purpose aquaculture license to have unlicensed individuals participate in the licensed activities by requiring their direct supervision by the license holder; and
12. Raise the fee for a limited-purpose aquaculture license from $50 to $100 for a resident and from $300 to $400 for a nonresident.