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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, September 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, September 28, 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, September 27, 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.

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

The Commission will consider amendments regarding the use of identification tags for where shellfish are originally harvested, in order to better ensure the health of the public:

4VAC20-1230-35, Shellfish Identification.       

A.  Any person harvesting shellfish shall affix a tag to each container of shellfish before the shellfish are removed from the harvester's boat.  The shellfish tag shall remain in place, while the shellfish are transported to a certified dealer, and shall remain affixed to each container of shellfish, until the container is emptied or shipped and retagged by a dealer.  For any quantity of harvested shellfish sold in bulk that are loose and not containerized aboard a boat, the harvester shall prepare a single tag, for that quantity of shellfish, that shall accompany that quantity of shellfish during transport, from the landing site to the dealer facilities.

B.  The shellfish tag shall be durable, waterproof, and approved by the Marine Resources Commission, prior to use, and shall be at least 13.8 square inches in size.

C.  The shellfish tag shall contain the following indelible and legible information, in the following order:     
  1. The harvester's VMRC Identification Number (last four digits) or VMRC Oyster Aquaculture Harvester Permit Number or Clam Aquaculture Harvester Permit Number.

  2. The date of harvest.

  3. The most accurate identification of the harvest location or aquaculture site including the abbreviated name of the state of harvest and the Commission's designation of the growing area by indexing, administrative or geographic designation.

  4. The type and quantity of harvested shellfish.


D.  When multiple containers of shellfish are harvested from a single harvest area, in any one day, and placed on a wrapped pallet, in a tote, or other bulk container, the lot may be tagged with a single bulk tag that shall accompany the shellfish during transport, from the landing site to the dealer facilities.  In addition to the information required in Subsection C of this Section, the bulk tag shall also include:

  1. The following statement in bold capitalized letters: "ALL SHELLFISH CONTAINERS IN THIS LOT HAVE THE SAME HARVEST DATE AND AREA OF HARVEST.", and
  2. The number of individual containers in the lot.

II.  Chapter 4VAC20-260-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Designation of Seed Areas and Clean Cull Areas".

The Commission invites public comment on repealing the maximum cull size of 4 inches for clean cull oysters in the Rappahannock River.

III.  Chapter 4VAC650-10 et seq. "Establishment of Oyster Sanctuary Areas".

The Commission invites public comment on decreasing the size of the Wreck Shoals-James River Oyster Sanctuary, to include all public grounds, within a boundary defined as:

  1. The Wreck Shoals-James River Oyster Sanctuary Area consisting of all public oyster grounds with a boundary defined as:  beginning at James River Channel Marker 6; thence westerly to James River Channel Marker 10; thence northeasterly to a point at Lat. 37 04' 24" N, Long. 76 34' 39" W; thence southeasterly to a point at Lat 37 04' 02" N, Long. 76 34' 06" W; thence southeasterly to James River Channel Marker 6, the point of beginning.

IV.  Chapter 4VAC20-720-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Restrictions of Oyster Harvest".

The Commission will consider amendments to this regulation for the 2010-2011 Public Oyster Harvest Seasons and any related harvest restrictions, such as times, gear, and catch limits:

  1. James River Seed Area, including Deep Water Shoal State Replenishment Seed Area: October 1, 2010 through April 30, 2011.

  2. Tangier - Pocomoke Sounds Rotation Area 2: December 1, 2010, through February 28, 2011.

  3. Seaside of Eastern Shore:  For clean cull oysters only, November 1, 2010 through February 28, 2011.

  4. The following areas shall be opened as early as October 1, 2010 or as late as March 1, 2011, to extend for a period of no less than two months:

Rappahannock River Areas 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9; the Great Wicomico Hand Scrape Area; the Upper Chesapeake Bay (Blackberry Hangs) Hand Scrape Area; the York River and Mobjack Bay Hand Scrape Areas; Deep Rock Patent Tong Area (Lower Chesapeake Bay); the James River Hand Scrape Area; the Thomas Rock Hand Scrape Area; and hand tong areas in the Coan, Little Wicomico, Nomini, and Yeocomico Rivers; and the Milford Haven.  

The Commission will also consider an oyster season in Poquoson and Back Rivers, as well as opening portions of the Rappahannock River to the use of patent tongs. The Commission may consider extending the open season, for certain areas, following a mid-season review of the standing stock of the public rocks and catch per unit effort data.

V.  Establishment of a Fisherman Identification Program as authorized by Section 28.2-302.1:1 of the Code of Virginia.
The Commission proposes to establish a Fishermen Identification Program (FIP) which shall be consistent with the National Saltwater Angler Registry Program.  The National Angler Registry Program began on January 1, 2010.  Federal regulations establishing the program require all anglers fishing in federal waters or for anadromous fish species (e. g. striped bass), in state waters, to register.  The purpose of the program is to establish a "phone book" of all saltwater anglers, over the age of 16, which can be used for federal surveys that estimate angling catch and effort.  To gather the names and addresses of all anglers that are not captured through our saltwater fishing license program and automatically transmitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the General Assembly directs the agency to establish a Fisherman Identification Program. 

Persons who purchase a saltwater recreational fishing license shall not be required to register with the FIP.

However, resident and non-resident anglers, over age 16, fishing in Virginia tidal waters that have not purchased a saltwater recreational fishing license will be required to register with the Fisherman Identification Program.  This requirement includes those fishing from a licensed private boat, rental boat or pier, anglers fishing from their own private property or as guests of the owner of the property, and, anglers 65 years or older.  Under the proposed Fisherman Identification Program (FIP), all resident and non-resident anglers, over the age of 16, fishing in Virginia tidal waters that do not have to purchase a saltwater recreational fishing license will be required to obtain an FIP number on an annual basis.  The FIP number must be carried on the person when fishing.  The FIP registration number may be obtained in two ways:  1) by accessing a computer website and following the directions; or  2) by phoning a toll-free number and following the verbal directives.  The caller or computer user will be instructed to give his name, address, phone number, and date of birth.  This information, along with that gathered through the saltwater fishing license program, will be supplied to the National Marine Fisheries Service, so that Virginia can be exempt from the federal registry and associated federal angler fees that could range from $15 - $25 annually.

VI.  Chapter 4VAC20-1090-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Licensing Requirements and License Fees". 

To meet the cost of implementing a state-level angler registry program, such as the Fisherman Identification Program, the Commission proposes an increase in saltwater recreational fishing license fees. 

Section 28.2-201(4) of the Code of Virginia authorizes the license fee increase that is needed to establish and maintain the Fisherman Identification Program.  The General Assembly, recognizing this need has authorized a one-time fee increase of no more than $10 to purchase a private recreational boat license.  The same Code section also caps fee increases at $5 or a percentage equal to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), since the last increase (December 2005).  Since December 2005 the CPI increase is 10.75 percent.  This means a $5 increase applies to the individual, temporary, rental boat, disabled and Freshwater/Saltwater combination licenses, while a 10.75 percent increase could be applied to the charterboat, commercial pier, and lifetime licenses.  These changes will require amendments to this regulation, as specified below:

    License Type Current Fee Proposed Fee
    Individual, resident 12.50 17.50
    Temporary, 10-day, resident 5.00 10.00
    Recreational boat, resident 38.00 48.00
    Charterboat/Headboat, resident 190.00. No Change
    Rental boat, resident 9.00/635.00 max  14.00/703.00 max
    Commercial pier 571.00 632.00
    Disabled lifetime, resident 5.00 10.00
    FW/SW Combo, resident 30.00 35.00
    FW/SW Combo, temporary, resident 16.00 21.00
    Lifetime, resident 250.00 276.00
    Lifetime, resident, age 45 - 50 120.00 132.00
    Lifetime, resident, age 51 - 55 90.00 99.00
    Lifetime, resident, age 56 - 60 60.00 66.00
    Lifetime, resident, age 61- 64 30.00 35.00

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