113-173.1. North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund.

(a) Establishment. - There is hereby established the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resources Fund (Fund) as a nonreverting special revenue fund in the office of the State Treasurer. The purpose of the Fund is to provide funding for the development of sustainable commercial fishing in the State. The principal of the Fund shall consist of all of the following:

(1) Two hundred dollars ($200.00) from each Standard Commercial Fishing License issued pursuant to G.S. 113-168.2.

(2) One hundred dollars ($100.00) from each Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License issued pursuant to G.S. 113-168.3.

(3) Twenty-five dollars ($25.00) from each shellfish license issued pursuant to G.S. 113-169.2.

(4) Fifty dollars ($50.00) from each fish dealer license issued pursuant to G.S. 113-169.3.

(5) Two hundred dollars ($200.00) from each land or sell license issued pursuant to G.S. 113-169.5.

(6) Thirty-five dollars ($35.00) from each Recreational Commercial Gear License issued pursuant to G.S. 113-173.

The State Treasurer shall hold the Fund separate and apart from all other moneys, funds, and accounts. The State Treasurer shall invest the assets of the Fund in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 147-69.2, except that interest and other income received on the fund balance shall be treated as set forth in G.S. 147-69.1(d).

(b) Use of Funds. - The North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund created by this section shall be used only for the following purposes, in order of priority:

(1) First, the Fund shall fully fund the State's incidental take permits for the commercial fishing industry under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-205) or the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (Public Law 92-522).

(2) After the priority set forth in subdivision (1) of this section has been fully funded, the Fund may be used for other projects to develop and support sustainable commercial fishing in the State.

(c) Procedure for Fund Disbursements. - With respect to funds used pursuant to subdivision (b)(1) of this section, the State Treasurer shall disburse the principal of the Fund only upon the written direction of the Director of the Division. With respect to funds used pursuant to subdivision (b)(2) of this section, the State Treasurer shall disburse the principal of the Fund only upon the written direction of both the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Funding Committee established by subsection (d) of this section following the procedures set forth in the memorandum of understanding developed under subsection (f) of this section. In the event of a disagreement between the Commission and the Committee, the Secretary of Environmental Quality shall decide between the directions proposed by the Commission and by the Committee.

(d) Funding Committee. - The Funding Committee for the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund (Committee) is established and shall consist of six members who shall serve staggered terms. Each of the following commercial fishing organizations shall appoint one member for an initial term as indicated and provide notice of that appointment in the manner set forth in G.S. 143-47.6:

(1) North Carolina Fisheries Association, Inc., for a term of three years.

(2) North Carolina Watermen United, Inc., for a term of two years.

(3) Ocracoke Working Watermen's Association, for a term of one year.

(4) Brunswick County Fishermen's Association, for a term of three years.

(5) Carteret County Fishermen's Association, for a term of two years.

(6) Albemarle Fishermen's Association, for a term of one year.

Upon the expiration of the terms of the initial Committee members, each member shall be appointed by the appointing organizations designated in subdivisions (1) through (6) of this subsection for a three-year term and shall serve until a successor is appointed and qualified. Members may be reappointed, but no member may serve more than two consecutive full terms. The Committee shall elect annually a chair and other officers as it deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, who shall serve a term of one year corresponding to the calendar year.

(e) Vacancies, Meetings, Quorum. - Vacancies in the Committee shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment. The Committee may meet at any time upon the call of the chair. A quorum of the group shall consist of four members.

(f) Memorandum of Understanding. - The Marine Fisheries Commission and the Committee shall develop and implement a memorandum of understanding setting forth the procedures for agreeing to and authorizing the disbursements from the Fund created in this section for the purposes described by subdivision (b)(2) of this section.

(g) Ethics. - Members of the Committee are public servants as defined in sub-subdivision i. of subdivision (70) of G.S. 138A-3. (2014-100, s. 14.9(i); 2015-241, s. 14.30(y); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-146, ss. 3.1(a), (b), 6.1.)