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Public Notice: Proposed Regulations, August 2009

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposed regulation 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, August 25, 2009, 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, August 24, 2009. 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.

1)  4 VAC20-1220-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Separation Between Nets"

On July 28, 2009 the Commission adopted Emergency Chapter 4 VAC 20-1220-10 et seq., Pertaining to Separation of Nets", that establishes the minimum distance between a fixed fishing device and any other net, as directed by Section 28.2-307 B of the Code of Virginia. This emergency regulation makes it unlawful to place a net within 300 yards of the side or end of any fixed fishing device, unless in the same row, but does allow applications for a waiver of this distance requirement, as long as the request is for a distance of separation that exceeds 300 yards. The Commission proposes that all provisions of this emergency chapter become permanent Chapter 4 VAC 20-1220 et seq.

2)  4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq. "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"

The Commission proposes to reinstate a 2-striped bass limit, per person, for the entire month of December, for the Chesapeake Area recreational striped bass fishery. In 2008 there was a 1-striped bass limit, from December 21 through December 31. This proposed amendment is not expected to result in a quota overage.

3)  4VAC20-610-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Commercial Fishing and Mandatory Harvest Reporting"

The Commission proposes the following amendments to the regulation, in order that seafood landing licensees will be held to the same reporting standards and requirements as registered commercial fishermen and oyster and clam aquaculture product owner permittees:

1)  Require all seafood landing licensees to submit a monthly harvest report to the Commission, no later than the fifth day of the following month. This report shall be accompanied by the daily harvest records that seafood landing licensees are currently required to maintain, but harvests of federally permitted species, from beyond Virginia's jurisdiction of tidal waters, shall be exempt from the daily recording and monthly reporting requirements. Require all seafood landing licensees to notify the Commission when they do not land any seafood species, in Virginia, during any month.

2)  Require all seafood landing licensees to maintain daily harvest records for one year, and those records shall be available, upon request, to authorized representatives of the Commission.

3)  Make it unlawful for seafood landing licensees to fail to fully report harvests and related information, as set forth by regulation.

4)  Require seafood landing licensees to allow those authorized by the Commission to sample their landings, for biological information, as long as that activity does not hinder normal business operations.

4)  4 VAC 20-1040-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Crabbing Licenses"

The VMRC has received approval from the federal government to use a significant portion ($6,724,470) of the $15.0 million federal crab disaster relief funds to purchase crab pot and peeler pot licenses, for the purpose of reducing excess harvest capacity in the blue crab fishery. All eligible crab pot and peeler pot licensees will soon receive detailed instructions, concerning this license buy-back program, and those instructions will enable eligible licensees to provide the VMRC with their per license buy-back bid. 

The proposed amendment to the regulation shall provide that any crab pot or peeler pot license that is purchased by the Commission through the Federal Crab Disaster Relief Program, shall be permanently retired and shall not be available for sale to any fisherman. Any person, whose license is purchased under the Crab Disaster Relief Program may re-enter the fishery only through the transfer of another crab pot or peeler pot license, as authorized by regulations in effect at the time of the transfer.

5)  4 VAC20-1090-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Licensing Requirements and License Fees" and 4 VAC20-1180-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Fishing Guides"

The Commission proposes to increase non-resident fees, for any Virginia saltwater recreational fishing license, so those fees are twice the cost paid by residents. The purpose of this amendment is to partially reduce the burden on resident licensees whose license fees support marine life management and enforcement programs. 

The Commission also proposes that any non-resident whose private boat is not registered in Virginia shall not be eligible to purchase a saltwater fishing license, for that private boat. This amendment would be part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-1090-10 et seq.

6)  4 VAC20-1070-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Haul Seines"

The Commission proposes to allow certain types of haul seine operations, such as a beach seine, to be exempt from the requirement that prohibits removal of fish or other catch, from the haul seine pocket, when the pocket is located in waters that are less than three feet in depth. This amendment would conform to the intent of the regulation wherein the removal-at-depth requirement was designed to protect SAV from boat propeller damage. 

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