(1) FEES AND EQUITABLE RENT.— (a) Endorsement fee.—The fee for a stone crab endorsement for the taking of stone crabs, as required by rule of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is $125, $25 of which must be used solely for trap retrieval under s. 379.2424. (b) Certificate fees.—
1. For each trap certificate issued by the commission under the requirements of the stone crab trap limitation program established by commission rule, there is an annual fee of 50 cents per certificate. Replacement tags for lost or damaged tags cost 50 cents each plus the cost of shipping. In the event of a major natural disaster, such as a hurricane or major storm, that causes massive trap losses within an area declared by the Governor to be a disaster emergency area, the commission may temporarily defer or waive replacement tag fees.
2. The fee for transferring trap certificates is $1 per certificate transferred, except that the fee for eligible crew members is 50 cents per certificate transferred. Eligible crew members shall be determined according to criteria established by rule of the commission. Payment must be made by money order or cashier’s check, submitted with the certificate transfer form developed by the commission.
3. In addition to the transfer fee, a surcharge of $1 per certificate transferred, or 25 percent of the actual value of the transferred certificate, whichever is greater, will be assessed the first time a certificate is transferred outside the original holder’s immediate family.
4. Transfer fees and surcharges only apply to the actual number of certificates received by the purchaser. A transfer of a certificate is not effective until the commission receives a notarized copy of the bill of sale as proof of the actual value of the transferred certificate or certificates, which must also be submitted with the transfer form and payment.
5. A transfer fee will not be assessed or required when the transfer is within a family as a result of the death or disability of the certificate owner. A surcharge will not be assessed for any transfer within an individual’s immediate family.
(c) Incidental take endorsement.—The cost of an incidental take endorsement, as established by commission rule, is $25.
(d) Equitable rent.—The commission may establish by rule an amount of equitable rent per trap certificate that may be recovered as partial compensation to the state for the enhanced access to its natural resources. In determining whether to establish such a rent and the amount thereof, the commission may consider the amount of revenues annually generated by endorsement fees, trap certificate fees, transfer fees, surcharges, replacement trap tag fees, trap retrieval fees, incidental take endorsement fees, and the continued economic viability of the commercial stone crab industry. A rule establishing an amount of equitable rent shall become effective only after approval by the Legislature.
(e) Disposition of fees, surcharges, civil penalties and fines, and equitable rent.—Endorsement fees, trap certificate fees, transfer fees, civil penalties and fines, surcharges, replacement trap tag fees, trap retrieval fees, incidental take endorsement fees, and equitable rent, if any, must be deposited in the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund. Up to 50 percent of the revenues generated under this section may be used for operation and administration of the stone crab trap limitation program. All remaining revenues so generated must be used for trap retrieval, management of the stone crab fishery, public education activities, evaluation of the impact of trap reductions on the stone crab fishery, and enforcement activities in support of the stone crab trap limitation program.
(f) Program to be self-supporting.—The stone crab trap limitation program is intended to be a self-supporting program funded from proceeds generated under this section.
(g) No vested rights.—The stone crab trap limitation program does not create any vested rights for endorsement or certificateholders and may be altered or terminated by the commission as necessary to protect the stone crab resource, the participants in the fishery, or the public interest.
(2) PENALTIES.—For purposes of this subsection, conviction is any disposition other than acquittal or dismissal, regardless of whether the violation was adjudicated under any state or federal law. (a) It is unlawful to violate commission rules regulating stone crab trap certificates and trap tags. A person may not use an expired tag or a stone crab trap tag not issued by the commission or possess or use a stone crab trap in or on state waters or adjacent federal waters without having a trap tag required by the commission firmly attached thereto. In addition to any other penalties provided in s. 379.407, for a commercial harvester who violates this paragraph, the following administrative penalties apply:
1. For a first violation, the commission shall assess an additional administrative penalty of up to $1,000.
2. For a second violation that occurs within 24 months after any previous such violation, the commission shall assess an additional administrative penalty of up to $2,000, and the stone crab endorsement under which the violation was committed may be suspended for 12 months.
3. For a third violation that occurs within 36 months after any two previous such violations, the commission shall assess an additional administrative penalty of up to $5,000, and the stone crab endorsement under which the violation was committed may be suspended for 24 months.
4. A fourth violation that occurs within 48 months after any three previous such violations shall result in permanent revocation of all of the violator’s saltwater fishing privileges, including having the commission proceed against the endorsement holder’s saltwater products license in accordance with s. 379.407.
A commercial harvester assessed an administrative penalty under this paragraph shall, within 30 days after notification, pay the administrative penalty to the commission, or request an administrative hearing under ss. 120.569 and 120.57. The proceeds of all administrative penalties collected under this paragraph shall be deposited in the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund.
(b) It is unlawful for any commercial harvester to remove the contents of another harvester’s stone crab trap or take possession of such without the express written consent of the trap owner available for immediate inspection. Unauthorized possession of another’s trap gear or removal of trap contents constitutes theft. 1. Any commercial harvester convicted of theft of or from a trap pursuant to this subsection or s. 379.402 shall, in addition to the penalties specified in s. 379.407 and the provisions of this section, permanently lose all saltwater fishing privileges, including saltwater products licenses, stone crab or incidental take endorsements, and all trap certificates allotted to such commercial harvester by the commission. In such cases, trap certificates and endorsements are nontransferable.
2. In addition, any commercial harvester convicted of violating the prohibitions referenced in this paragraph shall also be assessed an administrative penalty of up to $5,000. Immediately upon receiving a citation for a violation involving theft of or from a trap and until adjudicated for such a violation, or, upon receipt of a judicial disposition other than dismissal or acquittal on such a violation, the violator is prohibited from transferring any stone crab or spiny lobster certificates.
3. Any other person who violates the provisions of this paragraph commits a Level Two violation under s. 379.401. (c)1. It is unlawful to violate commission rules that prohibit any of the following:
a. The willful molestation of any stone crab trap, line, or buoy that is the property of any licenseholder, without the permission of that licenseholder.
b. The bartering, trading, or sale, or conspiring or aiding in such barter, trade, or sale, or supplying, agreeing to supply, aiding in supplying, or giving away stone crab trap tags or certificates unless the action is duly authorized by the commission as provided by commission rules.
c. The making, altering, forging, counterfeiting, or reproducing of stone crab trap tags.
d. Possession of forged, counterfeit, or imitation stone crab trap tags.
e. Engaging in the commercial harvest of stone crabs during the time either of the endorsements is under suspension or revocation.
2. Any commercial harvester who violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. 3. Any other person who violates this paragraph commits a Level Four violation under s. 379.401.
In addition, any commercial harvester convicted of violating this paragraph shall also be assessed an administrative penalty of up to $5,000, and the incidental take endorsement and/or the stone crab endorsement under which the violation was committed may be suspended for up to 24 calendar months. Immediately upon receiving a citation involving a violation of this paragraph and until adjudicated for such a violation, or if convicted of such a violation, the person, firm, or corporation committing the violation is prohibited from transferring any stone crab certificates or endorsements.
(d) For any commercial harvester convicted of fraudulently reporting the actual value of transferred stone crab certificates, the commission may automatically suspend or permanently revoke the seller’s or the purchaser’s stone crab endorsements. If the endorsement is permanently revoked, the commission shall also permanently deactivate the endorsement holder’s stone crab certificate accounts. Whether an endorsement is suspended or revoked, the commission may also levy a fine against the holder of the endorsement of up to twice the appropriate surcharge to be paid based on the fair market value of the transferred certificates.
(e) During any period of suspension or revocation of an endorsement holder’s endorsement, he or she shall remove all traps subject to that endorsement from the water within 15 days after notice provided by the commission. Failure to do so will extend the period of suspension or revocation for an additional 6 calendar months.
(f) An endorsement will not be renewed until all fees and administrative penalties imposed under this section are paid.