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Public Notice: Proposed Amendments to Regulations, November 2007

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, November 27, 2007 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, November 26, 2007. 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. Regulation 4VAC20-1040-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing Licenses"

The Commission proposes to extend the moratorium on the sale of additional crabbing licenses (crab pot, peeler pot, scrape, trap, ordinary trot line, patent trot line, dip net) until January 1, 2011. Those fishermen eligible for any crabbing license in 2007 will continue to be eligible for that specific crab license through 2010, unless the fisherman fails to register as a commercial fisherman or transfers that license to another person.

II. Regulation 4VAC20-960-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Tautog"

The Commission invites public comment on options to reduce harvest in the 2008 tautog fishery. Addenda IV and V to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan (FMP) require all states participating in the FMP to reduce total (commercial and recreational) harvest in 2008 by 25.6% and to implement those reduction plans no later than January 1, 2008. Below are options designed to reduce the annual harvest from the recreational fishery, by at least 25.6%, by modifying the current possession limit of 7 tautog and establishing closed days, within the recreational season. Also shown below are options to reduce the annual commercial fishery harvest, by 25.6%, by establishing closed days that will be in addition to the current closed period of May 1 through August 31. Options for both the recreational and commercial fisheries are designed to achieve separate 25.6% reductions, for each fishery. The Commission will also consider alternate options that achieve an annual 25.6% reduction from the total (recreational and commercial) harvest. One example would be to add one additional closed day to any of the recreational fishery reduction options. Since the recreational fishery accounted for 97.6% of the total (commercial and recreational) harvest during 2003 through 2005, that addition of one closed day to any proposed recreational closed season would achieve the required total (commercial and recreational) annual harvest reduction of 25.6%, and no additional closed days would be needed for the commercial fishery. The minimum size limit, for both recreational and commercial fisheries, will remain as 14 inches total length.

Options for reducing Virginia's recreational harvest by closed days and possession limits:

Option 1: Establish closed seasons from April 16 through May 15 and December 1 through December 14 and reduce the possession limit from 7 to 5 tautog.
Option 2: Establish a closed season from March 31 through April 30 and reduce the possession limit from 7 to 5 tautog.
Option 3: Establish a closed season from April 11 through April 30 and reduce the possession limit from 7 to 4 tautog.

Options for reducing Virginia's commercial harvest by closed days and possession limits. The closed seasons, below, are in addition to the current closed season of May 1 through August 31.

Option 1: Establish a closed season from September 1 through November 12
Option 2: Establish a closed season from April 1 through April 30
Option 3: Establish closed seasons from April 16 through April 30 and September 1 through October 24
Option 4: Establish closed seasons from April 16 through April 30, September 1 through October 2 and December 17 through December 31

III. Regulation 4 VAC 20-610-10, et seq., "Pertaining to Commercial Fishing and Mandatory Reporting"

The Commission proposes to make changes to the Aquaculture License and associated mandatory reporting for the aquaculture industry. The Oyster and Clam Aquaculture Licenses will be separated into four (4) permits:

Clam Aquaculture Product Owner's Permit
Oyster Aquaculture Product Owner's Permit
Clam Aquaculture Harvester's Permit
Oyster Aquaculture Harvester's Permit

Only clam and oyster product owners will be required to report to the mandatory reporting system. Reports shall be for daily activity, reported monthly, and shall include the following: aquaculture permit number, buyer, city or county of landing, lease or plat file number, gear (growing technique), species, weight or amount, and number of crew.

For the Oyster and Clam Harvester Permits, the Commission shall consider both an individual and vessel permit.

IV. Regulation 4 VAC 20-1090-10, et seq., "Pertaining to Licenses Requirement and License Fees"

The Commission proposes to establish the following permits and fees to replace the Clam Aquaculture License and the Oyster Aquaculture License.

Clam Aquaculture Product Owner's Permit, $10.00
Oyster Aquaculture Product Owner's Permit, $10.00
Clam Aquaculture Harvester's Permit, $ 5.00
Oyster Aquaculture Harvester's Permit, $ 5.00

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