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Public Notice: Pertaining to Horseshoe Crab

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on proposed amendments to Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 ET SEQ., "Pertaining to Horseshoe Crab". The proposed amendments, currently part of Emergency Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq. (effective October 20, 2000) are shown below as underlined text in section 4 VAC 20-900-25 C..

The purposes of the proposed amendments are to allow for the transfer of horseshoe crabs to Virginia by other jurisdictions and to comply with requirements of the Atlantic States Fisheries Management Commission's Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crab.

In accordance with ?28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the adoption of the proposed amendments will be held at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, November 15, 2000, 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, P. O. Box 756, Newport News, VA 23607. A copy of the proposed regulation may be reviewed at the Commission during Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 P.M. Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the proposed regulation may call the Commission at (757) 247-2248.


4 VAC 20-900-10. PURPOSE.

The purposes of this regulation are to establish commercial fisheries management measures and monitoring requirements, in accordance with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crab, to establish a commercial landings quota in number of horseshoe crabs, to establish a prohibition on harvesting horseshoe crabs by dredge and to license and identify, for fishery management data gathering purposes, those persons harvesting horseshoe crabs by hand.

4 VAC 20-900-20. DEFINITION. 

The following words or terms, when used in this regulation, shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

"Horseshoe crab" means any crab of the species Limulus polyphemus.

"Land" or "Landing" means to enter port with horseshoe crabs on board any boat or vessel, to begin offloading horseshoe crabs or to offload horseshoe crabs.

4 VAC 20-900-25. COMMERCIAL FISHERIES MANAGEMENT MEASURES.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest horseshoe crabs from any shore or tidal waters of Virginia, within 1000 feet, in any direction, of the mean low water line, from May 1 through June 7. The harvests of horseshoe crabs for biomedical use shall not be subject to this limitation.

B. Harvests for biomedical purposes shall require a special permit issued by the Commissioner of Marine Resources and all crabs taken pursuant to such permit shall be returned to the same waters from which they were collected.

C. The commercial landings quota of horseshoe crab, for each calendar year, shall be 152,495 horseshoe crabs. Additional quantities of horseshoe crab may be transferred to Virginia by other jurisdictions, in accordance with the provisions of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Horseshoe Crab Fishery Management Plan, provided that the combined total of the landings quota and transfers from other jurisdictions shall not exceed 355,000 horseshoe crabs.

D. It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest from Virginia waters or to land in Virginia any horseshoe crab for commercial purposes, after the landing quota, described in subsection C of this section, has been attained and announced as such.

E. It shall be unlawful for any person to take, catch, harvest or attempt to take, catch or harvest horseshoe crabs with a dredge from the tidal waters of Virginia from May 1 through June 7.

F. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess horseshoe crabs taken by dredge from the tidal waters of Virginia from May 1 through June 7.

4 VAC 20-900-30. LICENSE REQUIREMENT AND EXEMPTION. 

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest horseshoe crabs by hand for commercial purposes without first obtaining a Commercial Fisherman Registration License and a Horseshoe Crab Hand Harvester License. The fee for the Horseshoe Crab Hand Harvester
License shall be $15.00.

B. The taking by hand of as many as 5 horseshoe crabs in any one day for personal use only shall be exempt from the above licensing requirement.

4 VAC 20-900-35. MONITORING REQUIREMENTS.

A. Any person harvesting or landing horseshoe crabs in Virginia shall report monthly on forms provided by the Commission all harvests of horseshoe crabs, including, but not limited to bait fisheries, bycatch, biomedical industry, and scientific and educational research harvest. Reporting requirements shall consist of numbers and pounds landed by sex, harvest method and harvest location.

B. Persons harvesting horseshoe crabs for biomedical use and owners of facilities using horseshoe crabs for biomedical purposes shall monitor and report monthly to the Commission all harvests or purchases of horseshoe crabs and the percent of mortality up to
the point of release including that mortality which occurs during harvest, shipping, handling, and bleeding.

C. Owners of biomedical facilities using horseshoe crabs shall participate in the tagging program of the Commission to evaluate the post-release mortality of horseshoe crabs.

D. Monthly reports shall be due to the Commission no later than the fifth day of the following month.

4 VAC 20-900-40. PENALTY.

As set forth in ?28.2-903 of the Code of Virginia, any person violating any provision of this regulation shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this regulation committed by the same person within twelve months of a prior violation is a Class I misdemeanor.

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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 TIME AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEED.

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