Logo graphic for the Coastal Resources Division
Laws & Regulations

The principal Georgia Law Code chapters that govern and guide the work of the Coastal Resources Division are:

  • Title 12: Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Title 27: Game and Fish Code
  • Title 52: Waters of the State, Ports, and Watercraft

Shore Protection O.C.G.A. 12-5-230

The Shore Protection Act is the primary legal authority for protection and management of Georgia's shoreline features including sand dunes, beaches, sandbars, and shoals, collectively known as the sand-sharing system.  The value of the sand-sharing system is recognized as vitally important in protecting the coastal marshes and uplands from Atlantic storm activity, as well as providing valuable recreational opportunities.

The Shore Protection Act limits activities in shore areas and requires a permit for certain activities and structures on the beach.  Construction activity in sand dunes is limited to temporary structures such as crosswalks, and then only by permit from the Georgia Coastal Resources Division. Structures such as boat basins, docks, marinas, and boat ramps are not allowed in the dunes.  Shore Permits, which are administered by the Coastal Resources Division, are not granted for activities that are inconsistent with the Georgia Coastal Management Program.  The Shore Protection Act prohibits operation of any motorized vehicle on or over the dynamic dune fields and beaches, except as authorized for emergency vehicles, and governmental vehicles for beach maintenance or research.  The Shore Protection Act also prohibits storage or parking of sailboats, catamarans, or other marine craft in the dynamic dune field.

Direct permitting authority regarding any proposed facilities located within the jurisdictional area the Shore Protection Act lies with the Shore Protection Committee.  These permits are administered by the Georgia Coastal Resources Division.  This authority is a very important aspect of the Georgia Coastal Management Program, since recreation at the water's edge is a significant demand.  Providing public access and recreational opportunities at or near the beach while protecting the sand sharing system is an important component of the Program.

Coastal Management Act O.C.G.A. 12-5-320

The Coastal Management Act provides enabling authority for the State to prepare and administer a coastal management program.  The Act does not establish new regulations or laws; it is designed to establish procedural requirements for the Department of Natural Resources to develop and implement a program for the sustainable development and protection of coastal resources.  It establishes the Department of Natural Resources as the State agency to receive and disburse federal grant monies.  It establishes the Governor as the approving authority of the program and as the person that must submit the program to the federal government for approval under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.  It requires other State agencies to cooperate with the Coastal Resources Division when exercising their activities within the coastal area.

Coastal Marshlands Protection Act O.C.G.A. 12-5-280

The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act provides the Coastal Resources Division with the authority to protect tidal wetlands.  The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act limits certain activities and structures in marsh areas and requires permits for other activities and structures.  Erecting structures, dredging, or filling marsh areas requires a Marsh Permit administered through the Coastal Management Program.  In cases where the proposed activity involves construction on State-owned tidal water bottoms, a Revocable License issued by the Coastal Resources Division may also be required.  Marsh Permits and Revocable Licenses are not issued for activities that are inconsistent with the Georgia Coastal Management Program. 

Game and Fish Code O.C.G.A. 27-1-3

Officially titled Ownership and custody of wildlife; privilege to hunt, trap, or fish; general offenses, provides the ownership of, jurisdiction over, and control of all wildlife to be vested in the State of Georgia.  The section declares that custody of all wildlife in the State is vested with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for management and regulation.  The Wildlife Resources Division is the principal State agency vested with statutory authority for the protection, management and conservation of terrestrial wildlife and fresh water wildlife resources, including fish, game, non-game, and endangered species.  All licensing of recreational and commercial fish and wildlife activities, excluding shellfish, is performed by the Wildlife Resources Division.  The Coastal Resources Division issues shellfish permits, regulates marine fisheries activities including the opening and closing of the commercial shrimp harvesting season, areas of shrimp harvest, regulates marine species size and creel limits, and enforces the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. 

Shellfish O.C.G.A. 27-4-190

Officially titled Master collecting and picker's permits; hours for taking shellfish; recreational harvesting, the provisions of O.C.G.A. Title 27 (Game and Fish Code), Part 4 describe the regulation of shellfish in Georgia.  The provisions describe the requirements for a commercial shellfish harvester to have a license, issued by the Department of Natural Resources pursuant to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The Department also is authorized to approve shellfish growing areas for commercial harvest, and must consider the guidelines established by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. 

Protection of Tidewaters O.C.G.A. 52-1-1

The Protection of Tidewaters Act establishes the State of Georgia as the owner of the beds of all tidewaters within the State, except where title by a private party can be traced to a valid British Crown or State land grant.  The Act provides the Department of Natural Resources the authority to remove those structures that are capable of habitation, or incapable of or not used for transportation.