Members of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Technology and Agriculture got feedback on Monday on legislation intended to help fight the lionfish invasion, The Virgin Island Daily News reports.
Since the bill was first heard in committee more than a year ago, Sen. Ronald Russell, the sponsor, has developed an amendment in the nature of a substitute that refines the legislation based on feedback from a working group.
The amendment would rename the bill the Virgin Islands Native Aquatic Species Protection Act, instead of the Virgin Islands Lionfish Management Initiative.
Under the amendment, the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources would be authorized to implement an Aquatic Nuisance Subcommittee, comprising government personnel and community members.
The subcommittee would do a variety of things, including implementing a lionfish response management plan; routinely monitoring aquatic ecosystems to detect invasive species before they are widespread; proposing rapid response actions to minimize the impact of harmful invasive species; and developing long-term plans.
The amendment authorizes DPNR to distribute and manage appropriations, grants and other sources of funding to carry out the law and to seek additional funding sources. The amendment also would appropriate $150,000 to DPNR to implement the act.
Testifiers offered their thoughts about making further changes to the legislation.
An insufficient number of committee members were present Monday to take action on the measure, although testimony was offered and questions were posed. The bill likely will be discussed and voted on during a Senate Committee on Economic Development, Technology and Agriculture meeting in August.