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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, May 2012

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, May 22, 2012 at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.  Written comments on the proposals should be mailed to Robert L. O'Reilly, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 5:00 p.m., Monday, May 21, 2012.  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. 

I.  Chapter 4 VAC20-490-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Sharks".

The Commission will consider amendments to modify the commercial quota for spiny dogfish for the May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2013 fishing season. Modifications may include increasing the commercial quota for spiny dogfish to either 3,161,358 pounds, or 3,776,025 pounds.  Included in these two possible quotas is the pay-back amount of 77,142 pounds, for an overage of the May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012 quota.  Currently, the Virginia commercial quota for spiny dogfish is 2,148,224 pounds.  The purpose of this amendment is to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission fisheries management plan for spiny dogfish.

II.  Chapter 4 VAC20-540-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Spanish and King Mackerel".
 
The Commission will consider amendments to define the Virginia commercial Spanish mackerel landing limit as a daily (single) landing limit.  Currently, the commercial landings limit is defined as a trip limit, and multiple trips could be taken in any one day.  The purpose of this modification is to comply with requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Omnibus Amendment for Spot, Spotted sea trout, and Spanish mackerel, that will become effective July 1, 2012. 

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

The Commission proposes to modify the 2012 recreational and commercial management fishery measures.  Current recreational tautog regulations for Virginia include a closed season from April 16 through September 23, a three fish possession limit, and a 16-inch minimum size limit.  Proposed amendments for the recreational fishery include establishing the season as August 1 through December 31, 2012, as well as increasing the possession limit, from three fish to four fish, for the remainder of the year. 

Current commercial tautog regulations for Virginia include closed seasons from January 18 through March 15, and May 1 through November 12, and a 15-inch minimum size limit.  Proposed amendments for the commercial tautog fishery include establishing the season as September 1 through December 31, 2012.

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

The Commission will consider amendments to implement harvest regulations in the warm water months.  The purpose of these amendments is to protect human health from naturally occurring bacteria present in shellfish.  In late September 2011, a second confirmed case of Vibrio vulnificus (Vv) was attributed to the consumption of raw oysters that originated from Virginia shellstock.  This means that additional post-harvest handling procedures to limit bacterial growth during shellstock harvest, transport, and storage must be implemented.

The proposed amendments will include the following:

1.  Expanding the use of ice statewide. Previously this requirement was limited to the James River.

2.  Oysters must be placed into a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) approved mechanical refrigeration or storage container, and any oysters in that container shall be completely covered by a layer of ice, by the designated harvesting curfew time, and cooled to 55 degrees Fahrenheit within five hours of harvest.  The proposed monthly curfew dates and times for harvesting oysters without ice are as follows:

a.  May 1 through May 31 by 11:00 a.m.

b.  June 1 through June 30 by 9:00 a.m.

c.  July 1 through July 31 by 8:00 a.m.

d.  August 1 through August 31 by 8:30 a.m.

e.  September 1 through September 30 by 12:00 p.m.

3.  The time from initial harvest to when temperature control of that harvest is required begins once the first shellstock that is harvested is no longer submerged and extends to the time that any harvested oysters are placed in VDH Division of Shellfish and Sanitation-approved mechanical refrigeration or are completely covered by a layer of ice in a VDH-approved storage container shall not exceed the following total amount of hours, for the following months,

a.  5 hours during the months of May and September

b.  3 hours during the month of June.

c.  2 hours during the months of July and August.

4.  Restricted-use shellstock is defined as shellstock harvested from approved shellfish growing areas that shall not be sold for direct marketing or raw consumption.  Oysters harvested from public or private grounds, for restricted-use, must be identified with restricted-use shellstock tags, and must be harvested no later than 12:00 P.M. and placed in VDH Division of Shellfish Sanitation-approved mechanical refrigeration or completely covered by a layer of ice in a VDH-approved storage container, by 12:00 P.M. 

V. Chapter 4 VAC20-1250-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Tagging of Shellfish"

The Commission will consider amendments to identify oysters harvested for shucking or post-harvest processing only.  Oysters destined for shucking only will not be allowed to be commingled with any oysters destined for raw market, at any time from harvest to when they are shucked. 

Proposed amendments will include the following:

1.  Any person harvesting shellfish for commercial purposes must attach a shellfish harvester tag to each container of shellfish, that shall only be used for shellfish harvested from a single harvest area, in any one day, and those that are either loose in a conveyance (any form of transport, either mechanical or non-mechanical, used to transport shellfish from the harvest area to the landing site, certified dealer to whom certification is issued by the VDH, or other use) or in a single container. 

a.  The shellfish harvester tag must remain in place while shellfish are transported from the harvest area to the landing site and from the landing site to a certified dealer or other use.  The shellfish harvester tag must indicate the date of harvest, time that any shellfish harvest began and that the shellfish was landed, and an acknowledgment of whether or not those shellfish were placed in a storage container with a layer of ice that completely covered the oysters. 

b.  When multiple containers of shellfish are harvested from a single harvest area in any one day and placed in any conveyance, the lot may be tagged with a bulk shellfish tag that shall accompany that quantity of shellfish during transport from the harvest area to the landing site and from the landing site to a certified dealer or other use. 
2.  Oysters harvested for shucking or post-harvest processing will be identified by a green, restricted-use shellstock tag, to be issued by the Commission, which shall only be used by a certified oyster shucking house that will thereby be authorized to provide those tags to harvesters. 

a.  Certified shucking houses will purchase serially-numbered tags from the Marine Resources Commission.

b.  Oysters can only be delivered to the shucking and packing operation indicated on the serially numbered tag. 

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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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