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Publice Notice: Proposed Amendments to various Regulations

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposals listed below.

In accordance with §28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposals will be held at 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 at the Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.  Written comments on the proposals should be mailed to Jack Travelstead, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 5:00 p.m., Monday, March 27, 2006.  Copies of the proposed amendments may be reviewed at the Commission Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and may be obtained by calling the Commission at (757) 247-2248.

Regulation 4 VAC 20-530-10 et seq., "Pertaining to American Shad"

On February 28, 2006 the Commission adopted Emergency amendments that provides for a limited access by-catch fishery for American shad in the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area.  This area includes those tidal waters of 1) the James River, from a line connecting Dancing Point and New Sunken Meadow Creek, upstream to the 14th Street Bridge in Richmond; 2) the York River and its tributaries, from the Rt. 33 Eltham and Lord Delaware bridges at West Point, upstream in the Pamunkey River to a line connecting Liberty Hall and the opposite shore and upstream in the Mattaponi River to the Route 360 bridge at Aylett; and, 3) the Rappahannock River, from the Rt. 360 Downing Bridge at Tappahannock, upstream to the Route 1 Falmouth Bridge.

Any registered commercial fisherman meeting the following conditions shall be eligible to participate in the American shad by-catch fishery in the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area:  1) the registered commercial fisherman shall have reported striped bass harvest from the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area during the months of February and March in at least 5 years during the 1996-2005 period. 2) the registered commercial fisherman shall apply for a VMRC American Shad Spawning Reaches By-Catch Permit and possess that permit while fishing, landing, or selling his by-catch of American shad; and, 3) the registered commercial fisherman shall complete the VMRC American Shad Spawning Reaches By-Catch Survey Form to describe his pending fishing activity.

The following restrictions apply to this limited access by-catch fishery for American shad:  1) it shall be unlawful for any person to possess aboard a vessel more than 5 American shad, in any one day; 2) when more than one registered and permitted fisherman is fishing on the same vessel, it shall be unlawful to possess more than 5 American shad aboard that vessel, in any one day, except that, it shall be unlawful for any person, permitted to harvest American shad as by-catch from the Spawning Reaches By-Catch Area, to possess aboard a vessel or land any American shad, if that person takes, harvests or possesses any American shad from any lawful by-catch area below the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area; 3) It shall be unlawful for any person to possess aboard a vessel or land any American shad, from the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area unless that person possesses at least an equal number of fish of only the following food-grade species:  spot, croaker, bluefish, catfish, striped bass or white perch; and 4) possession of American shad, by any person permitted in accordance with this limited access by-catch area, shall be lawful only when those American shad were harvested from the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area, unless that person harvests or possesses American shad from legal by-catch areas below the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area; 5) American shad harvested only as by-catch by anchored gill nets and staked gill nets may be possessed or retained for sale, in accordance with the provisions of this regulation.  It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest, land or possess any American shad taken by any commercial gear, except anchored gill net or staked gill net, or any recreational gear; and, 6) Every fisherman permitted for the by-catch of American shad from the Spawning Reaches By-catch Area shall contact the Commission's Interactive Voice Response System, once weekly, to report the following for the preceding weekly period:  name, registration number, number of fishing trips taken, water body fished, number of nets set, number of American shad caught and number retained.

Planned Construction of Two New Artificial Fishing Reefs: Poquoson River and Mobjack Bay

The Commission proposes to construct two artificial fishing reefs at the following locations:

POQUOSON RIVER
                          
The reef is to be located near the mouth of the Poquoson River, NW of Poquoson Flats, in 21-24 feet of water (ML) NW of buoy #4. The requested site is to be rectangular in configuration with the long axis running NE-SW. The proposed reef, measuring 2,000 yards x 800 yards, is to be located off the western side of and run parallel with the channel. The corner points of the permitted area are to be as follows:
                                           
              NW 37-13.275 N; 76-20.675 W        NE 37-13.075 N; 76 20.275 W
              SW 37-12.500 N; 76-21.475 W        SE  37-12.300 N; 76-21.075 W

MOBJACK BAY
                                 
This reef is to be located in the mouth of Mobjack Bay, in 22-25 feet of water (ML). The requested site is rectangular in configuration with the long axis running NW-SE. The proposed reef, measuring 2,500 yards x 500 yards, is to be located off the western side of and run parallel with the channel, roughly on a line running between Bayside and Guinea Marshes. The corner points of the permitted area are to be as follows:
             
             NW 37-18.300 W; 76-20.300 W        NE 37-18.450 N ; 76-20.075 W
             SW 37-17.325 N; 76-19.300W          SE 37-17.500 N ; 76-19.050W    

Initial development of these two new reefs is planned to commence by or before this summer.

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 VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES; THEREFORE, IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS DUE TO A DISABILITY, PLEASE ADVISE DEBORAH CAWTHON (757) 247-2248 NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.

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