The Legislature finds and declares that aquaculture has the potential for reducing the United States trade deficit in fisheries products, for augmenting food supplies, for expanding employment, for promoting economic activity, for improving public health, for augmenting existing commercial and recreational fisheries and for producing other renewable resources, thereby assisting West Virginia and the United States in meeting its future food needs and contributing to the solution of world resource problems. It is, therefore, in the state's interest and it is state policy to recognize aquaculture as agriculture and to encourage the development of aquaculture in West Virginia.
This article shall be known as the "Aquaculture Development Act".
As used in this article:
(1) "Aquaculture" means the propagation, rearing, and/or use of aquatic species in controlled or selected environments for private and or commercial purposes related to food production, recreation, research, importation, exportation, marketing, transportation and science.
(2) "Aquaculture facility" means any land, structure or other appurtenance that is used for aquaculture, including, but not limited to, any laboratory, hatchery, rearing pond, raceway, pen, incubator, or other equipment used in aquaculture.
(3) "Aquatic species" means any species of finfish, mollusk, crustacean, or other aquatic invertebrate, amphibian, reptile, or aquatic plant, and including, but not limited to, "fish" and "fishes" as defined in this chapter.
(4) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(5) "Department" means the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.
(a) Aquaculture is a form of agriculture and thus the Department of Agriculture is designated as the lead state agency in matters pertaining to aquaculture.
(b) The department shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) To provide aquaculturalists with information and assistance in obtaining permits related to aquacultural activities;
(2) To promote investment in aquaculture facilities in order to expand production and processing capacity;
(3) To work with appropriate state and federal agencies to review, develop and implement rules, policies and procedures to facilitate aquacultural development;
(4) To facilitate the formation of an Aquaculture Advisory Board consistent with the provisions of section five of this article;
(5) To coordinate the development and implementation of a state aquaculture plan which shall include prioritized recommendations for research and development as suggested by the Aquaculture Advisory Board, the department, public and private research institutions and the West Virginia University Extension Service;
(6) To develop memoranda of agreement, as needed, with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture and other groups as provided in the state aquaculture plan; and
(7) To develop and propose to the Legislature, if necessary, legislation required to implement the state aquaculture plan and to otherwise encourage the development of aquaculture in the state.
(a) There is created within the Department of Agriculture the Aquaculture Advisory Board, to consist of the following representatives:
(1) The Commissioner of Agriculture or the commissioner's designee who shall serve as chairman of the board;
(2) A representative from the Division of Natural Resources;
(3) A representative from the Department of Environmental Protection;
(4) A representative from the West Virginia University Extension Service;
(5) Two industry representatives currently conducting for-profit aquaculture or aquaculture related activities in West Virginia; and
(6) One at-large member appointed at the discretion of the commissioner.
(b) Clerical and other assistance shall be provided by the Department of Agriculture.
(c) The board shall review state and federal policies, laws and regulations affecting aquaculture and recommend changes which may be necessary or useful to carry out the purposes of this article.
(d) The board shall present its recommendations to the Department of Agriculture.