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Public Notice: Proposed Regulations, March 2010

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposed amendments to regulations listed below.

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed regulations will be held at 12:00 Noon, on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, at the Virginia 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 22, 2010.  Copies of the proposed regulations 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.

A.  Chapter 4 VAC20-960-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Tautog"

The Commission invites public comment on industry-proposed modifications to the commercial fishery season for tautog.  The current closed seasons are April 16 through October 2 and December 1 through December 15.  The Commission proposes to establish a closed season that begins May 1 and ends November 12. 

B.  Chapter 4 VAC20-1230-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Restrictions on Shellfish"

The Commission will consider a new regulation pertaining to public health and warm water shellfish harvest as follows:

PREAMBLE

This chapter establishes, for the public health, harvest restrictions for shellfish taken from Virginia waters during the months of May through September.  This chapter is promulgated pursuant to the authority contained in 28.2-201 and 28.2-801 of the Code of Virginia.  The effective date of this chapter is April 1, 2010.

4VAC20-1230-10. Purpose. 

The purpose of this chapter is to establish harvest times and handling procedures, for shellfish harvested during the months of May through September, in order to protect the health of the public.

4VAC20-1230-20. Definitions.

The following words when used in this chapter shall have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: 

"Shellfish" means all species of bivalve molluscan shellfish.

"Harvest" means the act of removing shellfish from a designated harvest area and placing that harvest on or in a manmade conveyance or other means of transport.

"Mechanical Refrigeration" means storage in a container that is approved by the Division of Shellfish Sanitation and capable of cooling to and maintaining an ambient temperature of 45F or less.
"Time to Refrigeration" means that the amount of time, from when the harvested shellstock is no longer within the water column to its refrigeration.

"Oysters" mean those oysters greater than 2 inches in shell length.

"Shading" means to shelter, by intercepting the direct rays of the sun, in order to protect the shellfish from heat, using a tarp or cover.

4VAC 20-1230-30. Public Health and Warm Water Harvest Restrictions.

A.  It shall be unlawful for any person to have any cat, dog, or other animal on board a vessel during the harvest of shellfish.

B.  From May 1 through September 30, any vessel used for the harvest of shellfish, from either public or private grounds, shall provide adequate air flow through, and shading over, the area that serves as storage for the shellfish.  All shellfish in the vessel shall be offloaded every day.

C.  From May 1 through September 30, all land-based deliveries of shellfish requiring more than 30 minutes, from landing that shellfish, shall be made aboard trucks or conveyances equipped with mechanical refrigeration having an ambient temperature of 45 degrees or less before loading begins, except that shellfish may be thoroughly iced according to procedures approved by the Division of Shellfish Sanitation. Mechanically refrigerated containers shall be in operation, from the time of loading to the time of offloading.  Any operator of a truck that is delivering shellfish using a truck not owned by a certified shellfish dealer shall possess a truck refrigeration certificate issued by the Division of Shellfish Sanitation.  Upon receipt of any shellfish, at the shore-based plant, certified shellfish dealers must immediately place any shellfish received, from the harvester, under mechanical refrigeration.

D.  From June 15 through August 31, it shall be unlawful for any person, or person aboard a vessel, to leave the dock or shore, prior to one hour before sunrise, to harvest or attempt to harvest oysters from private grounds.

E.  From May 1 through June 14, it shall be unlawful any person to harvest oysters from public or private grounds, after 11 a.m., and oysters harvested before 11 a.m. shall be placed under Division of Shellfish Sanitation approved mechanical refrigeration or ice method by 11 a.m. that same day.

F.  From June 15 through August 31, it shall be unlawful to harvest oysters from public or private grounds, after 10 a.m., and oysters harvested before 10 a.m. shall be placed under Division of Shellfish Sanitation approved mechanical refrigeration or ice method by 10 a.m. that same day.

G.  From September 1 through September 30, it shall be unlawful to harvest oysters from public or private grounds, after 12 p.m., and oysters harvested before 12 p.m. shall be placed under Division of Shellfish Sanitation approved mechanical refrigeration or ice method by 12 p.m. that same day. 

H.  Recordkeeping Requirements: A time and temperature log sheet provided by the Division of Shellfish Sanitation shall be completed by both the harvester and the initial dealer, to document compliance with time to refrigeration requirements, for oysters, from May 1 through September 30.  Log sheets, for the current and previous 7 days of harvest, shall be kept aboard the harvest vessel for inspection by the Division of Shellfish Sanitation and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

I.  Oysters may be harvested after the designated harvesting time in Subsections E, F, and G of this Section, provided: 1)  There is a Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved tracking GPS device on board the harvest vessel that is in operation, from the time the vessel leaves the dock or shore and until the vessel returns to the dock and the oysters are offloaded; 2)  That total time, from the time the vessel leaves the dock or shore until the oysters are placed under Division of Shellfish Sanitation approved mechanical refrigeration or approved ice method, shall not exceed three hours.  3)  The harvester has applied for, and been granted a permit by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission in order to harvest oysters, after the designated harvesting time in Subsections E, F, and G of this Section.

J.  Violation of this Subsection I of this Section shall be considered a violation of this regulation and shall result in the revocation of this permit.

K.  From May 1 through September 30, a Bulk Seed Permit shall be obtained from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, for the harvest of any seed oysters that are greater than 2 inches.  Any person harvesting any seed oysters greater than 2 inches, who is not in possession of a Bulk Seed Permit issued by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, shall be in violation of the regulation.

L.  Any person may handle oysters, as part of a cage aquaculture operation, for husbandry purposes, after the designated harvesting times described in Subsections E, F, and G of this Section, provided that person possesses a valid Cage Aquaculture Husbandry Permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Any person handling oysters in cage oyster aquaculture operations, after the end of the designated harvesting times, described in subsections E, F, and G of this Section, who does not possess a Cage Oyster Aquaculture Husbandry Permit issued by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, shall be in violation of the regulation.

4VAC20-1230-40. Penalty. 

A.  In addition to the penalty prescribed by law, any person violating any provision of this regulation shall destroy, in the presence of a Marine Police Officer, all shellfish in his possession and cease harvesting on that day.  All harvesting apparatus shall be subject to seizure, and, pursuant to 28.2-232 of the Code of Virginia, shall be subject to the immediate forfeiture of all licenses and permits, until that person appears before the Marine Resources Commission.

B.  As set forth in 28.2-903 of the Code of Virginia, any person violating any provision of this regulation shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this regulation committed by the same person within 12 months of a prior violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.



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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 BETTY WARREN (757-247-2248) NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.

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