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COMMERCIAL FISHERIES NEWSLETTER APRIL 1997

VMRC Fisheries News
NOTE: This newsletter may contain outdated material. Please review the Regulation Index and the What's New pages to obtain the most recent versions of the Regulation information.

APRIL 1997


PLANS & STATISTICS
1-800-937-9247

ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS NEWSLETTER IS SUMMARY INFORMATION. PLEASE REFER TO THE REGULATION CITED FOR LEGAL DOCUMENTATION.



THIS NEWSLETTER PROVIDES ONLY A SUMMARY OF MANAGEMENT MEASURES ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION AND HAS NO LEGAL FORCE OR EFFECT. TO READ THE REQUIREMENTS IN THEIR ENTIRETY, YOU ARE URGED TO OBTAIN A COMPLETE COPY OF THE REGULATIONS BY CALLING 757-247-8067 OR 757-247-2272; VMRC HOME PAGE: http://www.mrc.virginia.gov


REWARD FOR LIVE STURGEON

ATTENTION!!!!
$100 REWARD FOR LIVE STURGEON IN THE JAMES, YORK AND RAPPAHANNOCK RIVERS!!!

During 1997, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation, are offering a $100 reward for live sturgeon captured in the James, York and Rappahannock Rivers only. No sturgeon from the Bay or ocean are included in this program. If you catch a sturgeon, please hold it alive. Phone us, and we will arrange to come to the site to pick up the fish.

Captured sturgeon will be tagged and released to learn more about their movement patterns. Tissue samples will be taken to determine if the fish may have been hatched in the Bay, or from someplace else outside of the Bay. We will only pay for live sturgeon captured in the three rivers. You will receive payment in approximately 4 weeks. Thank you for your cooperation. Please call one of the following phone numbers: (804)829-2421 (Monday-Friday, 8:00a.m.-4:00 p.m.);(804)690-2983 (Cellular); Pager 1-800-774-9578; Pager 757-881-8708; Pager 804-755-3895. If you need additional information on the program you may contact David Boyd, VMRC, at (757)247-2244.

STRIPED BASS SUMMARY 4VAC20-252-10 ET.SEQ

The ASMFC increased Virginia's commercial quota by 317,748lbs. This increase in quota allows some commercial watermen currently on the waiting list for striped bass tags to receive permits and watermen currently with tags will receive an increase in the number of tags for 1997. In mid April there will be an additional allocation of the new tags. The waiting list will be renumbered and all qualified '97 lottery applicants will be added to the end of the present waiting list. All persons on the waiting list will be notified of their new number for 1997 at a later date.

HIGHLIGHTED SPECIES

"TAUTOG"

Tautog (Tautoga onitis) also known as "Blackfish"; "Black Porgy"; "Chub"; "Saltwater Chub" - Color dull black to greenish black or brownish above, with more or less distinct, irregular, blackish bars or blotches most distinct in young; fins plain, mostly like the ground color of body. It is most readily recognized by its strongly convex anterior profile, thick lips, large incisorlike teeth, and very deep caudal peduncle.

The food of the tautog is varied, consisting largely of various small mollusks and crustaceans of suitable size. It is most numerous among rocks, old wrecks, pilings, etc., where it feeds on barnacles, crabs and other animals common in such places.

The tautog takes the hook readily and is of some importance as a "recreational fish." Tautog is one of the few species that can be found in the bay year round. Tautog have been caught in Chesapeake Bay waters as far inland as the Maryland Chesapeake Bay bridge, but are normally a coastal species associated with the predominately saline waters of bays and estuaries. Tautog spawn in spring to early summer. In the lower Chesapeake Bay and coastal Virginia waters they spawn from April to June.

More stock assessment and research is needed on tautog, such as, accurate data on recreational and commercial landings, recruitment, sex and size composition, migration/movement patterns as well as other areas of tautog biology. Currently VIMS in Gloucester Point, VA is asking for your help in this project. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) passed a tautog management plan which calls for a 13 inch minimum size in April, 1997. A proposed bag limit will be implemented in April 1998, based on data from Mass to NY.

Without new information (data) on the tautog fishery in Virginia, regulations will be based on data from northern states. If you would like to help please call Mr. Geoff White at (804)642-7325; Local Pager: Gloucester (804)642-7921; Norfolk (804)629-8136, to obtain data sheets, and record information on the tautog you catch. VIMS scientists will pick up frozen carcasses and data sheet analysis.

Since the mandatory reporting program has come into effect, tautog landings have increased significantly for Virginia Commercial landings (See Table/Chart Below). The Commission is currently calling for public hearings on tautog to establish a 13" minimum size limit for Virginia tidal waters.

Without your help limits will NOT be based on the tautog fishery in Virginia! Help us manage your fishery based on Virginia data. Happy tautog fishing!!!

AMT1993 199419951996
LBS5420 1135827760 23749
VALUE$3535 $9119$22131 $17817

Tautog Chart


COMMERCIAL FISHING IN VIRGINIA'S TIDAL WATERS

AMBERJACK - Regulation 4VAC20-510-10 et seq

Min Size Limit.........32 inches total length.

Possession Limit.......2 amberjack per person.

AMERICAN EEL - Regulation 4VAC20-500-10 et seq

Min Size Limit...........6 inches total length. See regulation for details on eel pot restrictions.

AMERICAN SHAD - Reg. 4VAC20-530-10 et seq

MORATORIUM...Unlawful for any person to catch or possess American shad from the Chesapeake Bay or its tidal tributaries.

OPEN FISHERY...Only in Virginia's portion of the Territorial Sea (east of the Colregs Remarcation Line).

BLACK DRUM - (Drum, Drumfish) -Reg. 4VAC20-320-10

Min Size Limit..........16 inches total length

Possession Limit........All hook & line fishermen are limited to 1 black drum per person

Harvest Quota............120,000 pounds per year from Virginia's tidal waters.

Permit Required.........All fishermen need to obtain a Black Drum Harvest/Selling Permit in order to catch, sell or possess black drum. All fisheries for black drum are under limited entry.

BLACK SEA BASS - Reg, 4VAC20-950-10 et seq

Min Size Limit...........9 inches total length. See regulation for

details on fish pot restrictions

BLUEFISH - Reg. 4VAC20-450-10 et seq

Possession Limit....All hook & line fishermen are limited to 10 bluefish per person.

Landings Quota....913,788 pounds for 1997 from any waters.

COBIA (Bonita) - Reg. 4VAC20-510-10 et seq

Min Size Limit...37 inches total length.

Possession Limit....2 cobia per person.

GREY TROUT (Weakfish) - Reg. 4VAC20-380-10 et seq

Hook & Line Fishery..12 inch minimum size limit and a 4 fish possession limit per person.

Gill Net Fishery..12 inch minimum size limit; no possession of grey trout May 14-Oct. 7 and Dec. 18 through Mar. 31. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess up to 150 pounds of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Pound Net Fishery...No possession of grey trout May 1-22, and Sept. 13 through Mar. 31; See 4VAC20-380-50 for exceptions. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess up to 150 pounds of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Haul Seine Fishery...No possession of grey trout April 1-15, June 11 through Aug. 20, and Sep. 25 through Mar. 31. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess up to 150 pounds of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Trawl Fishery...Unlawful to land grey trout in VA less than 12 inches and to have a trawl net cod-end with mesh less than 3 inches. Closed season on landing grey trout by trawler is Sep. 26 through Mar. 31. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess a bycatch of up to 150lbs of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Other Gear Types......9 inch minimum size limit.


KING MACKEREL - Reg. 4VAC20-540-10 et seq

Min. Size Limit...14 inches total length, except that a licensed pound net may take or possess king mackerel less than 14 inches total length.

RED DRUM (Puppy Drum) - Reg. 4VAC20-280-10 et seq

Slot Size Limit..18 inch min and 27 inch max size limits (total length).

Possession Limit...Any person is limited to 5 red drum, only 1 of which may exceed 27 inches total length.

SCUP (Porgy) - Reg. 4VAC20-910-10 et seq

Min Size Limit....9 inches total length.

Harvest Quota.....4158 pounds for May 1 through October 31. See regulation for details of additional landing and possession limits, as well as fish pot restrictions.

SHARKS(All excluding dogfish) - Reg. 4VAC20-490-10 et seq

Possession Limit..All hook & line and spear fishermen are limited to 1 shark per person.

Catch Limit...A vessel may not land or have on board any more than 7500 pounds of shark carcasses per day. Longlining and finning sharks are prohibited; however, fins may be removed at sea provided the carcass of the shark is retained and counted as part of any possession or landing limit.

SPANISH MACKEREL - Reg. 4VAC20-540-10 et seq

Min Size Limit..14 inches total length.

Catch Limit..No person may land more than 3500 pounds of Spanish mackerel per vessel per trip.

SPECKLED TROUT - Reg. 4VAC20-280-10 et seq

Min Size Limit..14 inches total length.

Possession Limit...All hook & line fisherman are limited to 10 speckled trout per person

Pound Net and Haul Seine Fisheries..up to 5% tolerance (speckled trout under 14 inches) by weight.

Harvest Quota..51,104 pounds for Sept. through Aug., for each 12 month period.

STRIPED BASS (Rockfish) - Reg. 4VAC20-252-10 et seq

It is unlawful for any person to engage in the commercial fishery for striped bass without first having obtained the necessary fisherman's registration license, appropriate gear license and the special permit to fish for striped bass. The minimum size limit and season restrictions must be observed and all commercially harvested striped bass must be identified with a tamper evident sealed tag that has been approved and issued by the appropriate authority in the jurisdiction of capture. The min size is 18 inches. maximum size limit shall be 28 inches from March 15 - June 15.

STURGEON - Code Section 28.2-303

It is unlawful to take, catch or possess any sturgeon.

SUMMER FLOUNDER - Reg. 4VAC20-620-10 et seq

Min Size Limit...14 inches total length. Possession Limit...All hook & line fishermen are limited to 10 summer flounder per person. Harvest Quota..300,000 lbs per yr from VA tidal waters.


BLUE CRABS

CHESAPEAKE BAY BLUE CRAB
FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PLAN
(FMP)
Available for public comment between 3/17 - 4/17. Contact Nancy Butowski at the Fisheries Div. Maryland Dept of Natural Resource Tawes State Office Bldg; Annapolis, MD 21401

The crab pot season begins April 1, 1997. No pots are to be placed or set before then. Just a reminder for our crab potters; the "hours fished" on your daily forms is the number of hours your crab pots were setting in the water.

{Example: You set them Tues., April 1; you don't go back to pull them until Wed., April 2. The hours your pots were in the water is 24 hours (1 day). Please do not put down the hours it takes you to pull your pots on April 2. 4:00am-2:00pm(10 hrs)}. This is the most common error with "hours fished" on our mandatory reporting form. If you have any questions about hours please call the office at 757-247-2272 or 757-247-2014.

PEELER VS. SOFT CRABS

I would like to draw your attention to the "Virginia Soft Crab Producers Newsletter." There was a note from the president to his fellow soft crab producers. It stated,"It is extremely important for the soft crab people to report their catch to VMRC. This is a requirement that must be fulfilled each year. Its very simple if you catch a peeler...report it as a peeler; if it is a soft crab or you shed him aboard the boat, report it as a soft crab...." This sums up what we have been trying to get the soft crab and peeler crab harvester to understand. Please, as the new season approaches, be aware of these reminders!!


PLEASE REPORT THE NUMBER OF PEELERS AND ALSO THE NUMBER OF SOFT CRABS HARVESTED!!

CRAB DREDGING

Crab dredge season is at a close. All dredgers, to maintain their eligibility for the following season, must have worked at least one day during the 1997-97 Dec-Mar season. If you have not reported make sure you do. We look at the mandatory reporting database to check the eligibility status for the upcoming season. If you worked with another dredger make sure they put your commercial registration number on their reports. You can call the office and ask for Stephanie Iverson. We will be glad to verify if we have received your reports.

COMPLIANCE

We would like you to know that we are encouraged by the reporting of the waterman over the more than four years that the Mandatory Reporting program has been in place. Every year waterman are getting better at reporting accurately and in a timely manner. Unfortunately we are still getting too many delinquent reports. We are charged with managing your fisheries. We are called upon to report the data we have received to justify regulations on different species. Late reports may cause your data to appear erroneous. We need your cooperation. All reports are due by the 5th of the following month. That means by January 5, 1997 all of 1996 reports should have been in our office. In March we were still receiving 1996 data. Please be aware that you are out of compliance with the Mandatory Reporting regulation (4VAC20-610-10 et. seq) when you do not have your reports in our office by the 5th of the following month. Commission action for noncompliance has ranged from six month probation periods to revocation of commercial and all related gear licenses for a period of one year, followed by probation. Please assist us by reporting accurately and in a timely manner.

ANNUAL LICENSE FEES

CLAMS

Hand/Rake.......................................... $15.00

Patent Tong Single.............................. $35.00

Clam Dredge - Hand............................ $15.00

Clam Dredge - Power........................... $35.00

Patent Tong Double.............................. $70.00

CONCH DREDGE LICENSE............... $35.00

CRABS

Ordinary Trot Line................................. $ 8.00

Patent Trot Line...................................... $31.00

Crab Power Dredge..............................$58.00(Permit Req-VMRC)

Crab Hand Scrape - Single...................... $16.00

Crab Hand Scrape - Double.................... $32.00

Crab Dip Net............................................ $ 8.00

Crab Pot 100 or less..... $ 29.00(Amt Pots Ltr Req-VMRC)

Crab Pot 101-300........... $ 48.00(Amt Pots Ltr Req-VMRC)

Crab Pot 301-500........... $100.00(Amt Pots Ltr Req-VMRC)

Shed Tank 20 or Less.................................. $ 7.50

Shed Tank Over 20...................................... $15.00

Peeler Pot..................................................... $29.00

Horseshoe Crab Hand Harv......................... $15.00

FOOD FISH

Gill Nets up 600'....................................... $10.00

Gill Nets 601' to 1200'............................... $15.00

Commercial Fish Cast/Throw Net............. $ 8.00

Fish Trot Line........................................... $12.00

Commercial Fish Dip Net.......................... $ 6.00

Haul Seine under 500 yards...................... $29.00

Haul Seine over 500 yards............................ $88.00

Commercial Hook & Line........................... $25.00

Fish Pot 100 or less...................................... $12.00

Fish Pot 101 to 300....................................... $20.00

Fish Pot over 300.......................................... $50.00

OYSTERS

Oysters by Hand/Hand Tong........................ $10.00

Oysters Patent Tong - Single.................... $35.00

Oysters Dredge (Public Grounds)............. $50.00

Oysters Patent Tong - Double................... $70.00

REPLACEMENTS

Replacement Tags........................................... $1.00

Replacement Licenses........................................ No Fee

SEAFOOD BUYERS

Boat or Truck...................................................... $25.00

Place of Business................................................. $50.00

SEAFOOD LANDING........................................ $150.00

SOLD BY MARINE PATROL OFFICERS ONLY

Crab Trap/Pound................................................. $5.00

Fyke Net.............................................................. $8.00

Pound Net............................................................ $25.00

Stake Gill Net...................................................... $15.00

INFORMATION SHEETS

We have several informational sheets that summarize the regulations on several species available to the watermen. You will find a copy of "Commercial Fishing in Virginia's Tidal Waters" enclosed in this newsletter. Also available are: "Commercial Crabbing in Virginia Tidal Waters"; and "Summary of Gill Net Laws & Regulations for Virginia Tidal Waters". These informational sheets are updated as regulations change. Please keep the current addition of these sheets for the most accurate information. Call in to the office if you aren't sure if you have the most current copy of these sheets.


REPORT FORMS

You will be receiving a year's supply of '97 forms and folders in one mailing. The number of folders you will receive is based on your reporting history for 1996. You may request additional forms at any time during the year if you should run out. Just call 1-800-937-9247 24hr a day, seven days a week. Leave your name, commercial registration number, and the number of supplies you need on the answering machine.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

April 22, 1997 ON OR AFTER 12 P.M.

2600 Washington Ave, Newport News

4th Fl - Commission Room

Written comments on the proposals will be accepted until 12:00 Noon, April 22, 1997 and should be addressed to Jack Travelstead, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, P.O. Box 756, Newport News, VA 23607.

1) Tautog minimum size limit/gear restrictions.

2) Shark minimum size 58", by-catch allowance, closure of state waters when federal waters quota has been reached.

3) Clam Management Areas

4) Conch Regulations


UPCOMING MEETINGS:

Clam Advisory Committee: May 14, 1997 ;7:00pm, VMRC Conf. Room 4th FL

Finfish Advisory Committee: May 20, 1997;7:00pm, VMRC Conf. Room 4th FL

Com Fish Advisory Board: May 20, 1997:4:00pm


STRIPED BASS TAG REWARD PROGRAM

In order for State and Federal fisheries biologists to manage the striped bass fishery and maintain fishable levels of striped bass, people who care about the fishery are relied upon for tag infor- mation. However, for tagging information to be useful, fishermen who return the tags must provide accurate and complete information. In the past, cash rewards were given to anyone providing tag information, regardless of the completeness of the data sent. Due to recent reductions in the federal budget, cash rewards are now only given to those who send in complete and accurate tag information. Everyone will still receive a hat for their participation. Below is a list of the information the Fish & Wildlife Service needs to process a tag return and issue a cash reward:

- What was the tag number?

- Was the tag removed from the fish or not?

- If removed, what part of the tag was removed: streamer, button, or both?

- Was the fish: sold, kept for consumption, released, or accidentally killed in a net?

- How was the fish caught: anchor gill net, drift gill net, seine, pound net, trap, hook and line?

- What was the date that the fish was caught? (At a minimum, provide month and year)

- Where was the fish caught? (Include name of body of water and nearest town/city that can be found on map)

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