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Public Notice: Pertaining to Bluefish, Porgy 2005

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, January 25, 2005 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, January 24, 2005. 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 4 VAC 20-450-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Bluefish"

In accordance with the joint Atlantic States Marine Fisheries and Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council plan for bluefish, the 2005 Virginia commercial quota is established as 1,235,310 pounds, and the Commission proposes to establish this annual quota at its January 25, 2005 meeting.

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

On December 21, 2004, the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), amendments to the above regulation. One amendment increases the commercial harvest and possession limit, from 15,000 pounds to 30,000 pounds of scup, for the Winter I period (January 1 through April 30, while replacing a 7-day landing period, with a 14-day landing period, that applies to this Winter I possession limit. Another amendment establishes that no vessel may land more than 1,000 pounds of scup, at any time, when it is projected and announced that 80% of the coastwide quota for the Winter I period has been attained, rather than tying this reduced Winter I possession limit to a 7-day landing period. Another amendment modifies the May 1 through October 31 period's legal harvest and landing, from 7,911 pounds to 5,040 pounds.

The provisions of the emergency amendment to this regulation are effective on January 1, and the Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq., at its January 25, 2005meeting.

III. Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"

The Commission proposes to establish improved quota-monitoring procedures for its Coastal area and Chesapeake area commercial striped bass quotas, as specified by the following three amendments:

1) The proposed amendment states that all permitted commercial harvesters of striped bass shall report to the Commission, in accordance with 4 VAC 20-610-10 et seq. In addition to the reporting requirements of 4 VAC 20-610-10 et seq., all permitted commercial harvesters of striped bass shall record and report daily striped bass tag use and specify the number of tags used on striped bass harvested in either the Chesapeake area or Coastal area. Daily striped bass tag use on striped bass harvested from either the Chesapeake area or Coastal area, within any month, shall be recorded on forms provided by the Commission and shall accompany the monthly catch report submitted no later than the 5th day of the following month. (The current regulation establishes that all commercial harvesters of striped bass shall report to the Commission in accordance with 4 VAC 20-610-10 et seq. In addition to the reporting requirements of 4 VAC 20-610-10 et seq., all commercial harvesters of striped bass shall record and report daily striped bass tag use. Daily striped bass tag use, within any month, shall be recorded on forms provided by the Commission and shall accompany the monthly catch report submitted no later than the 5th day of the following month.)

2). The proposed amendment establishes that prior to receiving any commercial season's allotment of striped bass tags, a permitted commercial harvester shall be required to have returned all unused tags from the previous commercial season to the Commission. Any unused tags that cannot be turned in to the Commission shall be accounted for by the harvester submitting an affidavit to the Commission that explains the disposition of the unused tags that are not able to be turned in to the Commission. (The current regulation states that any tags issued and not used shall be returned to the Commission by the permittee within 15 days after the close of the commercial fishery for the year.)

3). The proposed amendment establishes that any buyer permitted to purchase striped bass harvested from Virginia tidal waters shall provide written reports to the Commission of daily purchases and harvest information on forms provided by the Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). Such information shall include the date of purchase, buyer's and harvester's striped bass permit numbers and harvester's Commercial Fisherman Registration License number. In addition, for each different purchase of striped bass harvested from Virginia waters, the buyer shall record the gear type, water area fished, city or county of landing, weight of whole fish, and number and type of tags (Chesapeake area or coastal area) that applies to that harvest. These reports shall be completed in full and submitted monthly to the Marine Resources Commission no later than the 5th day of the following month. In addition, during the month of December, each permitted buyer shall call the VMRC Interactive Voice Recording System, on a daily basis, to report his name and permit number, date, pounds of Chesapeake area striped bass purchased and pounds of coastal area striped bass purchased. (The current regulation states that all buyers of striped bass taken from Virginia's tidal waters shall provide written reports of daily purchases and sales for each commercial fishing season to the Commission no later than 15 days following the last day of each commercial fishing season.)

The Commission also proposes an amendment necessary to clarify the restrictions associated with the recreational possession limits, as follows:

The proposed amendment states that it shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to land and retain any striped bass in excess of the possession limit applicable for the area and season being fished, within the 24-hour period of 12:00 a.m. through 11:59 p.m. Striped bass taken in excess of the possession limit shall be returned to the water immediately. (The current regulation states that it shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to possess striped bass in excess of the possession limit applicable for the area and season being fished. Striped bass taken in excess of the possession limit shall be returned to the water immediately.)

IV. Regulation 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Black Sea Bass"

The Commission invites public comment on a modification to the exception criteria used to determine whether applicants are qualified to receive a portion of the 17,000 pounds currently set aside for medical hardship conditions. The Commission may establish other hardship criteria, beyond the medical hardship, as long as those hardship criteria limited the applicant's ability to fish for black sea bass during the qualifying period.

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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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