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Public Notice: Pertaining to Blue Crab Management Areas 2002

NOTICE

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on 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 to the regulations listed below will be held at 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, May 28, 2002, 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, Newport News, Virginia 23607. Copies of the proposed amendments and charts of the blue crab sanctuaries may be reviewed at the Commission from Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and may be obtained by calling the Commission at (757) 247-2248.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

IRegulation 4 VAC 20-752-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Hampton Roads and Bayside Eastern Shore Blue Crab Management Areas.

The Commission proposes to expand the 661 square mile Virginia Bay-wide Blue Crab Spawning Sanctuary by approximately 286 square miles by moving the boundaries of the sanctuary approximately from the 35-foot depth contour to the 30-foot depth contour within the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay and to establish an additional sanctuary area immediately seaward of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The Sanctuary is closed to commercial and recreational crabbing from June 1 through September 15 to protect female crabs during their spawning migration.

The Commission also proposes, as an alternative, to establish additional shallow water sanctuary areas which connect the Virginia Bay-wide Blue Crab Spawning Sanctuary with critical blue crab habitat that includes areas of submerged aquatic vegetation. These shallow water sanctuaries are proposed to be closed to all crabbing during the year and are to be located in the waters near Dameron Marsh and the mouth of the Great Wicomico River, in the stretch of water near Pepper Creek, Harper Creek and New Point Comfort, in the waters surrounding the Goodwin Islands near the mouth of the Poquoson River and York River, in the waters of the Gulf and those just offshore of the Gulf, and in the waters surrounding Watts Island near Tangier Island. Charts of the precise locations of all the proposed sanctuaries are available from the Marine Resources Commission.

II.  Regulation 4 VAC 20-300-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Catch Limits"

The Commission proposes to prohibit the taking, harvesting, possessing aboard any vessel, and the landing of female sponge crabs by any person during the third week of July. The Commission also proposes to establish an 8 bushel daily catch limit of female sponge crabs during July, as an alternative to the one-week ban on possession of female sponge crabs. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to increase the probability of spawning success of the blue crab.

III.  Regulation 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Scup (Porgy)"

The Commission proposes to increase the commercial harvest quota for the summer period (May 1 - October 31) from 2,774 pounds to 4,987 pounds. This proposed change is in conformance with the interstate fishery plan for scup.

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VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES.IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION DUE TO A DISABILITY, PLEASE ADVISE DEBORAH CAWTHON (757) 247-2248 NO LESS THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEED.

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