(a) For purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
(1) BOARD. The Shellfish Aquaculture Review Board.
(2) DEPARTMENT. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
(3) OYSTER AQUACULTURE. The cultivation and harvesting of hatchery-spawned oysters for commercial purposes.
(b) There is created the Shellfish Aquaculture Review Board, which shall be responsible for developing a shellfish aquaculture policy and implementing a sustainable program for leasing land in the coastal waters of Alabama for oyster aquaculture. For administrative purposes, the board shall be an administrative unit within the department.
(c) The board shall consist of the following members:
(1) The Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or his or her designee.
(2) The Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries or his or her designee.
(3) The Director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management or his or her designee.
(4) The Director of the Alabama Department of Public Health or his or her designee.
(5) One member appointed by the Governor representing the Alabama Cooperative Extension System with shellfish aquaculture expertise.
(6) Two members appointed by the Governor representing an association or associations organized and incorporated in the state, which substantially or fairly represent the commercial seafood fishermen and the seafood industry of the state, and whose membership is apportioned and fairly representative of the seafood interests as a whole, economically, educationally, socially, and effectively organized and experienced in the representation of all aspects of the seafood interests and in methods designed to increase or promote the increased use, consumption, marketing, and sale of seafood through the united efforts of the association.
(d) By June 24, 2013, the Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources shall convene a meeting of the board to elect from its members a chair, vice chair, and other officers as the commissioner deems necessary. The board shall adopt rules to govern its proceedings. A majority of the membership of the board shall constitute a quorum for all meetings. A written record shall be maintained of all meetings.
(e) Members of the board shall receive reimbursement for travel expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. Any member of the board who is not employed by a state agency or governmental entity shall be compensated at a rate of one hundred dollars ($100) per day which shall be paid by funds appropriated to the department.
(f) In carrying out its mission, the board is encouraged to act jointly and cooperatively with, and seek input from, other state and federal agencies as it deems appropriate, including, but not limited to, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the United States Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, the United States Coast Guard, and the Auburn University Marine Extension and Research Center.
(g) Within 90 days of convening and from time to time, the board shall recommend to the department rules that establish a program for the leasing of submerged land for oyster aquaculture to be administered by the department. The program shall, to the maximum extent possible, streamline the application process so that leases may be issued in an expeditious manner. This shall include coordinating with federal agencies as appropriate, tracking the progress of each application, and ensuring there is open and meaningful communication between the applicant and the department during each stage of the application process.
(h) The oyster aquaculture leasing program shall ensure that aquaculture operations do not adversely impact wild stocks of fish or impinge the oyster riparian rights of any riparian owner of land under Section 9-12-20. Leasing shall be conducted in a manner that considers potential conflicts presented by other uses of the coastal waters, including navigation, recreation, and commercial fishing.
(i) The oyster aquaculture leasing program shall prohibit the propagation of any nonnative species.