253.68 Authority to lease or use submerged lands and water column for aquaculture activities.—
(1) To the extent that it is not contrary to the public interest, and subject to limitations contained in ss. 253.67-253.75, the board of trustees may lease or authorize the use of submerged lands to which it has title for the conduct of aquaculture activities and grant exclusive use of the bottom and the water column to the extent required by such activities. “Aquaculture activities” means any activities, as determined by board rule, related to the production of aquacultural products, including, but not limited to, producing, storing, handling, grading, sorting, transporting, harvesting, and aquaculture support docking. Such leases or authorizations may permit use of the submerged land and water column for either commercial or experimental purposes. However, a resolution of objection adopted by a majority of the county commission of a county within whose boundaries the proposed leased area would lie, if the boundaries were extended to the extent of the interest of the state, may be filed with the board of trustees within 30 days of the date of the first publication of notice as required by s. 253.70. Prior to the granting of any such leases or authorizations, the board shall by rule establish and publish guidelines to be followed when considering applications for lease or authorization. Such guidelines shall be designed to protect the public’s interest in submerged lands and the publicly owned water column.
(2)(a) The Legislature finds that the state’s ability to supply fresh seafood and other aquaculture products has been diminished by a combination of factors, including a diminution of the resources and restrictions on the harvest of certain marine species. The Legislature declares that it is in the state’s economic, resource enhancement, and food production interests to promote aquaculture production of food and nonfood aquatic species by facilitating the review and approval processes for authorizing the use of sovereignty submerged land or the water column; simplifying environmental permitting; supporting educational, research, and demonstration programs; and assisting certain local governments to develop aquaculture as a means to promote economic development. The Legislature declares that aquaculture shall be recognized as a practicable resource management alternative to produce marine aquaculture products, to protect and conserve natural resources, to reduce competition for natural stocks, and to augment and restore natural populations. Therefore, for the purpose of this section, the Legislature declares that aquaculture is in the public interest.
(b) It shall be the policy of the state to foster aquaculture development when the aquaculture activity is consistent with state resource management goals, environmental protection, proprietary interests, and the state aquaculture plan.
History.—s. 1, ch. 69-46; ss. 27, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 3, ch. 96-247; s. 4, ch. 97-164; s. 30, ch. 97-220; s. 6, ch. 2005-157.