NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A9938
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to
permitting the leasing of state-owned underwater lands for seaweed
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
The purpose of this bill is to promote the leasing of certain state-
owned underwater lands for seaweed cultivation in parity with shellfish
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1. Provides that the Department of Environmental Conservation
(DEC) may lease certain state-owned underwater lands within the marine
and coastal districts for the cultivation of seaweed. The lease of lands
withing 500 feet of the highwater mark would require the approval of the
Office of General Services. Certain specified lands, including lands in
Gardiner's and Peconic Bays in Suffolk County, cannot be leased by the
DEC for seaweed cultivation. The DEC would be authorized to adopt regu-
lations relating to administrative matters as leasing forms and proce-
dures, rental fees, harvesting gear, and renewal and assignment of leas-
es. Regulations adopted by the DEC for the implementation and
administration of this section must include measures to award leases to
the highest responsible bidder after public auction following due
notice, require that bidders provide a detailed cultivation plan, and
require that the cultivation of seaweed commence within one year of the
award of the lease.
Section 2. Severability clause. The provisions of this act are severable
if any portion is found to be invalid. The remainder of this act shall
not be affected.
Section 3. Effective date.
Seaweed is an aquatic plant native to New York State's waters and plays
an essential role in the overall well-being of our underwater ecosys-
tems. It has been found that seaweed is highly effective at minimizing
nitrogen pollution, improving water oxygenation, and serving as a
natural habitat for fish and shellfish. In addition to its environmental
benefits, seaweed growth also provides many economic benefits for New
York that incentivizes state investment and support.
When harvested and processed commercially, seaweed can be utilized in
various products, including food items, fertilizers, cosmetics, and
packaging. Seaweed cultivation has a minimal environmental impact for
the reasons previously stated and requires little fertilization or envi-
ronmental disruption, making it a valuable and eco-friendly product that
is rapidly growing in demand.
Under current law, New York State does not allow the leasing of state
land for the purpose of seaweed cultivation. This bill would expand the
DEC's authority to lease certain state-owned underwater lands for the
purpose of shellfish cultivation to include seaweed cultivation. This
will help to further promote seaweed aquaculture in areas of interest
and allow enterprises to participate in this growing and highly benefi-
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS:
To be determined.
This act shall take effect immediately
STATE OF NEW YORK
April 19, 2022
Introduced by M. of A. THIELE -- read once and referred to the Committee
on Environmental Conservation
AN ACT to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to
permitting the leasing of state-owned underwater lands for seaweed
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Section 13-0301 of the environmental conservation law, as
2 added by chapter 317 of the laws of 1996, is amended to read as follows:
3 § 13-0301. Lease of state-owned underwater lands for shellfish or seaw-
4 eed cultivation.
5 1. Leases. a. Except as provided in paragraph b of this subdivision,
6 the department may lease state-owned underwater lands within the marine
7 and coastal district for the cultivation of shellfish or seaweed. The
8 written approval of the office of general services shall be obtained for
9 the lease of land within five hundred feet of the high water mark.
10 b. The following lands underwater shall not be leased: (i) lands where
11 there is an indicated presence of shellfish in sufficient quantity and
12 quality and so located as to support significant hand raking or tonging
13 harvesting; (ii) lands where the leasing will result in a significant
14 reduction to established commercial finfish or crustacean fisheries;
15 (iii) lands where bay scallops are produced regularly on a commercial
16 basis; and (iv) lands underwater of Gardiner's and Peconic bays and the
17 tributaries thereof between the westerly shore of Great Peconic bay and
18 an easterly line running from the most easterly point of Plum Island to
19 Goff point at the entrance of Napeaque harbor.
20 2. Regulations. a. Regulations adopted by the department for the
21 implementation and administration of this section shall include regu-
22 lations with respect to leasing forms and procedures; public notice of
23 leasing; execution of leases; minimum rental fees; bidding procedures;
24 posting and forfeiture of financial security, renewals, termination and
25 assignment of leases; marking and testing of grounds; maintenance of
26 boundary markers; collection of rental and recording fees; submission
27 and approval of cultivation plans; harvesting gear; acreage of lands to
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 9938 2
1 be let and term of leases and other matters pertinent to underwater land
2 use and shellfish or seaweed cultivation.
3 b. Regulations adopted by the department for the implementation and
4 administration of this section shall include the following requirements:
5 (i) leases shall be awarded after public auction following due notice;
6 (ii) leases shall be awarded to the highest responsible bidder; (iii)
7 bidders shall provide a detailed cultivation plan; and (iv) cultivation
8 of shellfish or seaweed shall commence within one year of the award of
9 the lease.
10 3. Summary proceedings. Upon failure to pay the rental on any date due
11 under the terms of the lease or upon revocation, the department may,
12 after written notice to the lessee, declare the lease cancelled as of
13 the date set forth in such notice, and may immediately thereafter evict
14 the lessee from such lands. The provisions of article seven of the real
15 property actions and proceedings law shall apply and govern the proce-
16 dure in such cases.
17 4. Limitations. The commissioner of general services shall not grant
18 or lease lands for shellfish or seaweed cultivation. The public shall
19 not be excluded from the taking of shellfish or seaweed from underwater
20 lands granted or leased by such commissioner for other purposes;
21 provided, however, that should any grant or lease made by such commis-
22 sioner for such other purposes include lands leased by the department
23 for shellfish or seaweed cultivation the lessee for shellfish or seaweed
24 cultivation shall have the exclusive right to use and take shellfish or
25 seaweed from such leased lands for a period of two years from the date
26 of the grant or lease by such commissioner or until the expiration of
27 the shellfish or seaweed cultivation lease, whichever is the earliest,
28 and may prior to the expiration of such period, remove and transplant
29 the shellfish or seaweed from such lands to other lands leased, owned or
30 controlled by such lessee.
31 § 2. Severability. The provisions of this act shall be severable and
32 if any portion thereof or the applicability thereof to any person or
33 circumstances shall be held invalid, the remainder of this act and the
34 application thereof shall not be affected thereby.
35 § 3. This act shall take effect immediately.