a. The Shellfisheries Council shall be composed of 10 members, each of whom shall be a resident of the counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth, Ocean, or Salem.
Each member shall be a licensed and practicing shellfisherman and shall be chosen with due regard to the person's knowledge of and interest in the culture or harvesting of shellfish, the shellfish industry and the conservation and management of shellfish.
Each member of the council shall be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term of four years and shall serve until a successor has been appointed and has qualified.
Any vacancies in the membership of the council occurring other than by expiration of term shall be filled by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for the unexpired term only. Any member of the council may be removed from office by the Governor, for cause, upon notice and opportunity to be heard.
The members of the council shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
b. The council shall, subject to the approval of the commissioner, formulate comprehensive policies for the preservation and improvement of the shellfish industry and resource of the State. The council shall also: (1) consult with and advise the commissioner and the Marine Fisheries Council with respect to the implementation of the shellfisheries program; (2) study the activities of the shellfisheries program and hold hearings with respect thereto as it may deem necessary or desirable; and (3) initiate, by resolution of the council, proposed rules and regulations concerning shellfish to the commissioner.
c. No lease of any of the lands of the State under the tidal waters thereof, to be exclusively used and enjoyed by the lessee for the planting and cultivating of shellfish, shall hereafter be allowed except when approved by a majority of the appropriate section of the council; and no such lease shall hereafter in any case be allowed except when approved and signed by the commissioner.
d. The council shall be divided into two sections, one to be known as the “Delaware Bay Section” and the other to be known as the “Atlantic Coast Section.” The Delaware Bay Section shall consist of five members from the counties of Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem, with three members residing in Cumberland County and the remaining two members residing in the counties of Cape May or Salem. The Atlantic Coast Section shall consist of five members from the counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Ocean, and Monmouth.
Except as provided in subsection e. of this section, the Delaware Bay Section shall, subject to the approval of the commissioner, exercise all the powers and perform all the duties of the council in matters relating to the shellfish industry in the tidal waters of the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and their tributaries.
The Atlantic Coast Section shall, subject to the approval of the commissioner, exercise all the powers and perform all the duties of the council in matters relating to the shellfish industry in all of the tidal waters of the State except in the tidal waters of the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and their tributaries.
Each section of the council shall annually elect a chairman and a vice-chairman of the council. If the chairman is absent, then the vice-chairman shall exercise the powers and perform the duties of the chairman.
e. The commissioner, in consultation with the Delaware Bay Section of the Shellfisheries Council, shall fix fees for all oysters harvested from the natural seed beds, Areas 1, 2 and 3 and those areas defined in R.S.50:3-14 within the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and their tributaries. These fees shall be collected by and allocated to the Division of Fish and Wildlife and shall be deposited in the “Oyster Resource Development Account,” established pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1996, c. 112 ( C.23:3-12.2 ).
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