Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 29.1. Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and Boating
Chapter 5. Wildlife and Fish Laws
6/14/2024

Article 7. Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Species Act.

§ 29.1-571. Definition.

"Nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species" means a nonindigenous aquatic freshwater animal species whose presence in state waters poses or is likely to pose a significant threat of harm to (i) the diversity or abundance of any species indigenous to state waters; (ii) the ecological stability of state waters; or (iii) the commercial, industrial, agricultural, municipal, recreational, aquacultural, or other beneficial uses of state waters. Nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species shall include the zebra mussel, quagga mussel, and all species of snakehead fishes of the family Channidae.

2003, c. 446.

§ 29.1-572. Authority of Board; regulations.

The Board may promulgate regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this article including, but not limited to, the designation of other nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species.

2003, c. 446.

§ 29.1-573. Department; powers.

A. The Department may conduct operations and measures to suppress, control, eradicate, prevent, or retard the spread of any nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species. The maximum effort shall be made to utilize the best available scientific technology that is specific to the targeted nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species, environmentally sound, practical, and cost effective.

B. Such operations and measures shall be conducted subject to the appropriation of general funds authorized for the purpose of suppressing, controlling, eradicating, preventing, or retarding the spread of any nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species, or the receipt of funds designated for this purpose from private entities, local governments, political subdivisions, or federal grants. If such funds are not available to carry out the purposes of this chapter, then the Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources shall seek and accept all possible funds from other sources, including federal, state, local, and private grants, loans, and donations.

C. In carrying out its powers, the Department may cooperate with any federal agencies, any agency of an adjacent state, any other state agencies, local governments, political subdivisions, and authorities within the Commonwealth. Other state agencies shall cooperate and provide assistance as requested by the Director in carrying out the purposes of this article.

2003, c. 446; 2004, c. 467; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 401.

§ 29.1-574. Prohibitions.

A. No person shall knowingly import, possess, transport, sell, purchase, give, receive, or introduce into the Commonwealth any member of a species designated as a nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species without a permit from the Director issued pursuant to § 29.1-575.

B. Subsection A shall not apply to any person who (i) lawfully catches a snakehead fish of the family Channidae, (ii) subsequently kills such fish, and (iii) notifies the Department, as soon as practicable, of his actions.

C. Subsection A shall not apply to any Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan (21 C.F.R. 120 et seq.) certified restaurant or retail market that purchases from an HACCP certified dealer or sells processed snakehead fish of the family Channidae.

2003, c. 446; 2005, c. 916; 2018, c. 559.

§ 29.1-575. Permits.

The Director shall permit the importation, possession, purchase, receipt, or transportation of a nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species for purposes of research by recognized academic institutions or government agencies upon receiving satisfactory assurance that adequate safeguards will be maintained to prevent the escape or introduction of any such species into the Commonwealth.

2003, c. 446.

§ 29.1-576. Authority for inspection; warrants.

To carry out the purposes of this article, the Director may obtain a warrant pursuant to § 19.2-52, or with the consent of the owner enter upon and conduct reasonable inspections of any property in the Commonwealth to determine if a nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species is present and to seize or eradicate any nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species found on such property.

2003, c. 446.

§ 29.1-576.1. Zebra mussels; education program.

The Director shall establish an education program that instructs boaters and other members of the public in methods of preventing or slowing the infestation of the waters of the Commonwealth by zebra mussels, quagga mussels, or other nonindigenous aquatic nuisance species as defined in § 29.1-571. The education program may be delivered through the boating safety education program required by § 29.1-735.2, by posting on the Department's website, or by other means, and shall include cleaning and draining guidelines, designated dry times for watercraft and other recreational equipment, and public outreach, including published instructions and training videos.

2016, c. 540.

§ 29.1-577. Penalties.

Any person who violates any provision of this article or who knowingly obstructs the Director or his designee in carrying out his lawful duties under this article shall upon such finding by a court of proper jurisdiction (i) be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25,000, which shall be paid into the Game Protection Fund established pursuant to § 29.1-101, and (ii) be liable for the costs of investigation, control, and eradication incurred by any state agency, local government, political subdivision, or authority as a result of such unlawful conduct.

2003, c. 446.