15A NCAC 03S .0103        GRANTS TO COMMERCIAL BLUE CRABBING INDUSTRY

(a)  Economic assistance from grants to the commercial blue crabbing industry is available for the following: 

(1)           Fishermen:  Fishermen who landed blue crab (Callinectes spp.) using crab pots, peeler pots, crab trawls, crab dredges, and trotlines, as defined by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Trip Ticket Program, in North Carolina during calendar years 2000, 2001 or 2002 and who held a valid Standard (SCFL) or Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License (RSCFL) at the time of landing for at least one of those years.

(2)           Fish Dealers: Fish dealers who reported blue crab (Callinectes spp.) landings from crab pots, peeler pots, crab trawls, crab dredges, and trotlines, as defined by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Trip Ticket Program, during calendar years 2000, 2001 or 2002 and who held a valid North Carolina Fish Dealer License at the time of transaction for at least one of those three years.

(3)           Crab Processors: Blue crab processors who held a valid certification as a Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Health certified crustacean meat processor, and employed persons who processed domestic blue crab meat during calendar years 2000, 2001 or 2002.  For the purposes of this Section, processing means any of the following operations when carried out in conjunction with the cooking of crustacea or crustacea meat: receiving, refrigerating, air-cooling, picking, packing, repacking, thermal processing, or pasteurizing.

(b)  The Division of Marine Fisheries shall identify which fishermen and fish dealers are eligible for economic assistance under this program based upon blue crabs landed in North Carolina and reported on North Carolina trip tickets at the time of landing or transaction and submitted in accordance with 15A NCAC 03I .0114.  Where assignment of a license occurred, the SCFL holder who assigned the SCFL shall be credited with landings under this program.  Where a SCFL or RSCFL was transferred during 2000, 2001 or 2002, each SCFL or RSCFL holder shall be credited with landings under this program based upon issuance of the transferred license at the start of the day in which the landings were reported.

(c)  The Division shall identify eligible crab processors by using Division of Environment Health certification and inspection records to verify processing activities.  Eligible crab processors shall be determined by the name listed on the Permit and Certificate of Compliance document or permit application provided by the Division of Environmental Health. Where ownership of a crab processor was transferred during 2000, 2001 or 2002, each owner's eligibility for his period of ownership shall be determined by the criteria in Subparagraph (a)(3) of this Rule.

(d)  Funds from the grant to the commercial blue crabbing industry shall be utilized as follows:

(1)           Five percent of the total funds shall be used for administration of the program.

(2)           Twelve percent of the total funds shall be set aside for use by the Division of Marine Fisheries to resolve economic assistance disputes, with the remainder of the funds being provided to the N.C. Department of Agriculture for a North Carolina blue crab marketing program.

(3)           The remaining funds shall be divided equally among blue crab fishermen, fish dealers and crab processors as follows:

(A)          One third of the remaining funds shall be awarded to eligible fishermen based upon each fisherman's proportional contribution, in percentage, to the total weight of landed blue crabs reported on North Carolina Trip Tickets for the calendar years 2000, 2001 and 2002 except that fishermen with recorded cumulative landings less than 10,000 pounds shall receive economic assistance in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00). 

(B)          One third of the remaining funds shall be awarded to eligible fish dealer's based upon each fish dealer's proportional contribution, in percentage, to the total weight of landed blue crabs reported on North Carolina trip tickets for the calendar years 2000, 2001 and 2002 except that fish dealer's with recorded cumulative landings less than 10,000 pounds shall receive economic assistance in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00). 

(C)          One third of the remaining funds shall be awarded to eligible crab processors based upon each processors proportional contribution, in percentage, to the highest annual employment of employees processing blue crabs, as reported by the Division of Environmental Health during the calendar years of 2000, 2001, or 2002.

(e)  Notification and distribution of assistance:

(1)           Each fisherman, fish dealer and crab processor determined by the Division of Marine Fisheries to be eligible for economic assistance under this program shall be notified by certified mail, return receipt requested of their eligibility.  Notification of eligibility shall include the total verified blue crab landings for fishermen or fish dealers, the reported employment levels for crab processors, credited to each person for the purpose of this program.

(2)           Any fisherman, fish dealer or processor claiming blue crab landings who does not receive an eligibility notification letter shall contact the Morehead City Office of the Division of Marine Fisheries within 30 days after the published legal notice authorizing the economic assistance determination period.

(3)           Each eligible fisherman, fish dealer or processor shall have 14 calendar days from the date of receipt of the certified letter indicated in Subparagraph (e)(1) of this Rule to return the form that is attached to the eligibility notification letter to the Division of Marine Fisheries completed and signed, indicating a decision whether or not to participate in the program.

(4)           Failure to return a completed and signed response form to the Division of Marine Fisheries within 14 calendar days of receipt shall be considered a decision by the eligible person to forego participation in the economic assistance program.

(5)           If a fisherman or dealer claims additional blue crab landings, beyond those identified by the Division of Marine Fisheries upon which to base the level of economic assistance, that person must provide copies of North Carolina trip tickets that were completed at the time of landing with the signed response form to document the claim within 20 days of receipt of the notification letter and economic assistance check.  The Division of Marine Fisheries shall evaluate such claims, and the fisherman or dealer landings shall be adjusted accordingly if the claims are deemed valid.  If a crab processor disputes the number of employees involved in blue crab processing, as reported to the Division of Environmental Health, that person must provide the Division of Marine Fisheries with documentation that substantiates blue crab processing employment, and blue crab production reports for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 to document the claim.

(6)           No funds shall be disbursed until all landings disputes submitted in this program are resolved by the Division of Marine Fisheries, in order to ensure that all funds available for economic assistance are disbursed to eligible program participants. The total amount of funds designated for individual economic assistance shall be divided proportionally among eligible fishermen who elect to participate in the program in a manner that shall exhaust all funds for this purpose.

(7)           The Grants to Commercial Blue Crabbing Industry for Economic Losses Program shall terminate upon depletion of funds appropriated by the United States Congress to North Carolina for this purpose.

 

History Note:        Authority G.S. 113-226; 143B-289.52(d); 

Emergency Adoption Eff. October 14, 2003;

Emergency Adoption Expired January 2, 2004;

Eff. November 1, 2004.