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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, March 2014

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed below.  By March 10, 2014, the proposed draft regulations can be viewed at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. 

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed regulation will be held at 12:00 noon, on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.  Written comments on the proposals should be provided to Robert L. O’Reilly, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 12:00 p.m., Monday March 24, 2014. 

I.  Chapter 4VAC20-900-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Horseshoe Crabs”

The Commission proposes to decide whether to reaffirm amendments, adopted December 10, 2013 and made effective January 1, 2014, to Chapter 4VAC20-900-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Horseshoe Crabs”.  On December 10, 2013, the Commission considered the provisions listed below, and these provisions will be reconsidered at its March 25 public hearing:

1. Establish the 2014 Virginia horseshoe crab quota as no greater than 172,828 horseshoe crabs; 

2. Establish a quota category-specific licensing system; 

3. Establish quota category-specific daily vessel trip limits; 

4. Establish a dredge gear prohibition in Virginia Blue Crab Sanctuary Area 2 which is the historical (1942) Sanctuary; 

5. Provide for hand harvesters to register one helper; and,

6. Define possession limits, by time-of-day, beginning at 12:00 P.M. of the current day and ending at 11:59 A.M. of the following day. 
The proposal to reaffirm amendments to Chapter 4VAC20-900-10 et seq. has been requested by the Commission, as a result of a technical error about the date of filing listed on the Notice for the December 10, 2013 meeting that was reviewed by the Commission at its February 25, 2014 meeting.

II.  Chapter 4VAC20-490-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Sharks”

Owing to a technical error about the date of filing listed on the Notice reviewed by the Commission at its February 25, 2014 public hearing, the Commission proposes to reaffirm amendments, adopted February 25, 2014, and made effective March 1, 2014, to Chapter 4VAC20-490-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Sharks”.  On February 25, 2014, the Commission considered the following provisions:

1.  Amend the commercial shark management group definitions to establish a Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Shark Group (Atlantic sharpnose, finetooth, and bonnethead sharks), a Blacknose Shark Group (Blacknose sharks), an Aggregated Large Coastal Shark Group (Silky, Tiger, Blacktip, Spinner, Bull, Lemon, and Nurse sharks), and a Hammerhead Shark Group (Scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead sharks).

2.  Establish a recreational minimum size limit for scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, and smooth hammerhead sharks of 78 inches fork length, an increase from the current size limit of 54 inches fork length.

3.  Increase the combined commercial possession limit for the Commercially permitted aggregated large coastal shark group and Commercially permitted hammerhead shark group to 36 sharks.  The current commercial possession limit is 33 sharks.

The purpose of the amendments is to maintain compliance with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for these species.

III.  Chapter 4VAC20-280-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Red Drum and Speckled Trout”

The Commission, on February 25, 2014, adopted emergency amendments to 4VAC20-280-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Red Drum and Speckled Trout” to close the recreational speckled trout fishing season from March 1, 2014 through July 31, 2014. The Commission proposes to adopt these emergency amendments as part of a final regulation.  The Commission further proposes to amend Chapter 4VAC20-280-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Red Drum and Speckled Trout” to establish the following provisions: 

1.  Establish a 5-fish per person recreational speckled trout possession limit, year-round; with only 1 of the speckled trout possession limit allowed to be 24 inches or greater;

2.  Establish mandatory monthly reporting by commercial buyers of speckled trout, except as described in item 3., below;

3.  Establish mandatory weekly reporting by commercial buyers of speckled trout.

4.  Establish a by-catch limit for commercial harvesters of speckled trout, when 80 percent of the commercial landing limit of 51,104 pounds is projected to have been taken. 
The purpose of these amendments is to best manage stocks of speckled trout throughout Virginia waters and adjacent areas. 

IV.  Chapter 4VAC20-280-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Red Drum and Speckled Trout”

The Commission proposes to lower the commercial maximum size limit for red drum, from 26 inches to 25 inches, and to increase the commercial possession limit, from 3 fish to 5 fish.

This proposal is in response to a request by Virginia’s commercial fishing industry to reduce regulatory discards and potential waste and promote the efficient utilization of fishery resources. 

V.  Chapter 4VAC20-620-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Summer Flounder”

The Commission, on February 25, 2014, adopted emergency amendments to 4VAC20-620-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Summer Flounder” to establish a consecutive 20-day landing period, beginning on the second Wednesday of March, for any legally licensed Summer Flounder Endorsement Licensee landing summer flounder, harvested outside of Virginia waters, in Virginia.  The Commission proposes to adopt these emergency amendments as part of a final regulation.

This proposal is to promote the efficient utilization of Virginia’s commercial summer flounder quota.

VI.  Chapter 4VAC20-950-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Black Sea Bass”

The Commission proposes to establish the 2014 commercial black sea bass quota as 434,000 pounds. 

The purpose of this amendment is to comply with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for this species. 

VII.  Chapter 4VAC20-510-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Amberjack and Cobia”

The Commission will consider proposals to establish daily vessel cobia possession limits for recreational vessels, as well as commercial vessels operated by lawful commercial hook-and-line licensees.  The Commission will consider management options, to include but not limited to the following:

1.  Maintain the one-cobia recreational possession limit, per person, but establish a maximum daily recreational vessel possession limit of six cobia;

2.  Maintain the two-cobia commercial possession limit, for any person who possesses a legal commercial fisherman’s registration license;

3.  Establish a daily commercial possession limit of 6 cobia, for any commercial vessel operated by at least one legal commercial hook-and-line licensee, regardless of crew size; 

4.  Establish a daily commercial possession limit of two cobia, for any person onboard a commercial vessel operated by a legal commercial hook and line licensee, with a maximum daily vessel commercial possession limit of 6 cobia for that vessel.

5.  Establish a daily commercial possession limit of two cobia, for any person onboard a commercial vessel operated by a legal commercial hook and line licensee, with a maximum daily vessel commercial possession limit of 8 cobia for that commercial vessel. 

This proposal is to promote the conservation and management of cobia by taking into account variations among, and contingencies in, different fishery sectors.

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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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