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Public Notice: Proposed Amendments to Regulations, May 2008

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

In accordance with 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held at 12:00 Noon, on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 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, May 26, 2008. 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.

I. On April 22, 2008, the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), amendments to the regulations, listed below, that are effective May 1, 2008. The Commission proposes to make these emergency amendments (described below) permanent provisions of these regulations.

A) Emergency Chapter 4VAC20-270-10 Et Seq.: "Pertaining to Crabbing"

The proposed permanent regulation: 1) establishes new peeler pot and hard crab pot limits, for 2008. From May 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008, the peeler pot limit shall be 210 peeler pots, a 30% reduction, from the limit, in effect, prior to May 1, 2008. From May 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008, crab pot limits (by license category) shall be 85 crab pots,127 crab pots,170 crab pots, 255 crab pots and 425 crab pots. Each category limit is a 15% reduction, from limits, in effect, prior to May 1, 2008.

B) Emergency Chapter 4 VAC 20-880-10 Et Seq.: "Pertaining to Hard Crab and Peeler Pot License Sales"

The proposed permanent regulation: 1) re-defines the Coastal area and the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River Tributaries and defines the Mainstem Chesapeake Bay; 2) establishes new hard crab pot limits, for the tributaries of the Mainstem Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River tributaries, as 255 crab pots, from May 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008, whereas, the limit, for these areas, was 300 crab pots, prior to May 1, 2008; 3) establishes new hard crab pot limits, for the Mainstem Chesapeake Bay and Coastal area, as 425 crab pots, from May 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008, whereas, the limit, for these areas, was 500 crab pots, prior to May 1, 2008; 4) establishes that it shall be unlawful, for any person, to place, set or fish more than a combined total of 425 hard crab pots, in Virginia tidal waters, from May 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008. Prior to May 1, 2008 the lawful combined total number of crab pots was 500 crab pots, in Virginia tidal waters.

C) Emergency Chapter 4 VAC 20-1090-10 Et Seq.: "Pertaining to Licensing Requirements and License Fees"

The proposed permanent regulation: 1) lowers the amount of peeler pots, from 300 to 210, as part of the peeler pot license; 2) establishes new crab pot license categories for the 2008 season, as a) up to 85 pots, b) over 85 but not more than 127 crab pots, c) over 127 but not more than 170 crab pots, d) over 170 but not more than 255 crab pots, and, e) over 255, but not more than 425 crab pots. Each of these new crab pot license categories licenses represents a 15% reduction, in amount of pots, as compared to the same pot license category, prior to May 1, 2008.

D) Emergency Chapter 4 VAC 20-700-10 Et Seq.: "Pertaining to Crab Pots"

The proposed permanent regulation: 1) defines the Mainstem Chesapeake Bay, Seaside Area and Tributaries of the Mainstem Chesapeake Bay; and, 2) effective July 1, 2008, makes it unlawful for any person to place, set or fish any crab pot, in any Virginia waters, except the Seaside Area, that does not contain at least four unobstructed cull rings of size and location within the pot. Two cull rings shall be at least 2 3/8 inches inside diameter. These cull rings shall be located one each in opposite exterior side panels of the upper chamber of the pot. A third cull ring shall be at least 2 5/16 inches inside diameter, and the fourth cull ring shall be at least 2 3/16 inches inside diameter. The 2 5/16 inch and 2 3/16 inch cull rings shall be located one each in opposite exterior side panels of the upper chamber of the pot.

II. Chapter 4VAC20-1150-10 Et Seq. "Pertaining to Crab Pot Identification"

In accordance with 28.2-712 of the Code of Virginia the Commission proposes to require that crab pot buoys be marked by a single identification number. The Commission will consider exempting fishermen, with licenses to harvest crabs in the Potomac River and in North Carolina, from this proposed buoy marking system.

III. Chapter 4VAC20-450-10 Et Seq. "Pertaining to the Taking of Bluefish"

The Commission proposes to amend Regulation 4 VAC 20-450-10 Et Seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Bluefish" to establish the commercial bluefish quota, for 2008. At this time, the exact amount of the 2008 commercial bluefish quota has not been finalized by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission; however tentative estimates for Virginia are either 913,716 pounds or an amount of quota that is near 1,048,366 pounds. The purpose of this proposed regulation is to conform to the joint federal and interstate management plan for this species.

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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