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Public Notice: Pertaining to Black Sea Bass, American Shad, Porgy 2003

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 these proposals will be held at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, February 25, 2003 at the office of the Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor, Newport News, Virginia. Any interested person may offer testimony. For additional information, or to submit written comments, please contact Jack Travelstead, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia, 23607, prior to 12:00 noon on Monday, February 24, 2003.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS:

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

These provisions were adopted as emergency amendments to the regulation on January 28, 2003. The Commission now proposes to make them permanent amendments to the Regulation.

1) Modify the initial eligibility requirements associated with being permitted for the harvest of striped bass from the Coastal area in 2003. Permits shall be issued to those registered commercial fishermen who landed a total of at least 1000 pounds of striped bass from the coastal area in one year or more, from 1993 through 1997, and harvested striped bass from the Coastal area in either 2001 or 2002, as documented by the Commission's mandatory reporting database, and chooses to surrender 236 tags of his Chesapeake area striped bass harvest quota.

2) Should the Coastal Area harvest quota, described in 4 VAC 20-150 B, be insufficient to provide permits for all those who qualify according to the requirements in this subdivision, permits shall be granted first on the basis of total number years a fisherman landed striped bass from 1993 through 1997 and secondarily on the total number of pounds landed by a fisherman from 1993-97. 

3) If shares of Coastal area quota remain, following the initial permitting process in 2003, as described in subdivision 1. of this subsection, subsequent permits issued for the 2003 Coastal area commercial striped bass fishery shall first be limited, sequentially, to those fishermen who landed the most striped bass, beyond a minimum total landings amount of 1,000 pounds, from the Coastal area during the most number of years, from 1993-97, and landed striped bass from the Coastal area in either 2001 or 2002, as documented by the Commission's mandatory reporting database, and chooses to surrender 236 tags of his Chesapeake area striped bass harvest quota. Secondarily, permits issued for the 2003 Coastal area commercial striped bass fishery shall be limited, sequentially, to those fishermen who landed the most striped bass, beyond a minimum total landings amount of 1,000 pounds, from the Coastal area during the most number of years, from 1993-97, as documented by the Commission's mandatory reporting database, and chooses to surrender 236 tags of his Chesapeake area striped bass harvest quota.

4) Permittees for the 2003 commercial harvest of striped bass in the Coastal Area shall receive an equal share of the Coastal Area quota of tags.

5) The total allowable level of all commercial harvest of striped bass from the Coastal area, for all open seasons and for all legal gear, shall be 184,853 pounds of whole fish. At such time as the total commercial harvest of striped bass from the Coastal area is projected to reach 184,853 pounds, and announced as such, it shall be unlawful for any person to land or possess striped bass caught for commercial purposes from the Coastal area.

The purpose of the proposed amendments is to promote efficient utilization of the recent increase of 54,456 pounds for the Coastal Area commercial striped bass quota, in accordance with the provisions established under the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.

II. Regulation 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest"

These provisions were adopted as emergency amendments to the regulation. The Commission now proposes to make them permanent amendments to the regulation.

1) The Deep Rock Dredge Area will now be known as the Deep Rock Patent Tong Area. The area description will be the same. The closed harvest season for this area has been extended through February 9, 2002. Deep Rock Patent Tong Area will be opened from February 10, 2003 through March 31, 2003. Only standard oyster patent tongs as described in Section 28.2-509 of the Code of Virginia will be allowed for harvesting oysters in this area. Oyster dredges are prohibited in the area.

2) All areas previously opened for the 2002-2003 public oyster harvest season in the Pocomoke-Tangier Sound Management Area will be opened for the harvesting of oysters from February 3, 2003 through February 21, 2003.

The purposes of these amendments are to adjust for contingencies in the fishery, such as unusual weather events, and to promote conservation of the resource.

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

These provisions were adopted as emergency amendments to the regulation on January 28, 2003. The Commission now proposes to make them permanent amendments to the regulation.

The Winter I period (January 1 through April 30) commercial scup landing limit is reduced from 10,000 lbs per trip to 15,000 lbs per each consecutive seven-day landing period. Further, once it is announced that 85% of the coastwide quota for the Winter I period has been taken, the landing limit is reduced to 1000 pounds of scup during each consecutive seven-day period.

The purpose of these amendments is to maintain compliance with the requirements of the Interstate Management Plan for Scup.

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

1) Increase the recreational minimum size limit from 11 1/2 inches to 12 inches (total length).

2) Establish closed recreational fishing seasons, from September 2-15 and from December 1-31.

The purpose of these amendments is to maintain compliance with the requirements of the Interstate Management Plan for Black Sea Bass.

V. Regulation 4 VAC 20-530-10 et seq. "Pertaining to American Shad"

The Commission proposes to allow permits for the commercial harvest of American shad from the 2003 and 2004 Coastal Area Fishery to be transferable.

The purpose of the amendment is to allow for efficient utilization of this resource.

VI. Regulation 4 VAC 20-380-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Grey Trout (Weakfish)"

1) Allow fishermen targeting species other than weakfish (i.e. non-directed fisheries) to possess no more than 300 pounds in any one day or trip (whichever is the longer period of time) as allowable bycatch during any otherwise closed seasons. Fishermen are permitted this 300 pound allowance provided that there is at least an equal poundage of other species on board the vessel. The current allowance is 150 pounds.

2) Allow up to 300 undersized weakfish taken in finfish trawl fisheries to be landed. None of the undersized fish can be sold, according to the Interstate management plan for this species.

3) Shorten the current gill net closed season (May 14 through October 7 and December 18 through March 31) by as many as 16 days. At this time the Fisheries Management Advisory Committee has recommended closed seasons of May 14 through October 20 and December 31 through March 15.

4) Establish new recreational management measures. Available minimum size limit (total length) and possession limit options include: 12 inches and 7 grey trout; 13 inches and 8 grey trout; 14 inches and 9 grey trout; and, 15 inches or greater and 10 grey trout. Currently, the recreational management measures include a 12-inch minimum size limit and 4-grey trout possession limit (May 1 through August 15) and a 14-inch minimum size limit and 14 grey trout (August 16 through April 30). The recently adopted interstate plan does not allow for multiple combinations of minimum size and possession limits.

The purpose of these amendments is to maintain compliance with the provisions of the Interstate management plan for grey trout.

VII. Regulation 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Summer Flounder."

The Commission proposes to establish as much as a 13-day closed season for the recreational harvest of summer flounder during July. Current regulations restrict harvest to a 17 1/2 inch minimum size, an 8 fish possession limit and a closed season of January 1 through March 28. Further review by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission may determine that no additional closures are necessary. The results of this review will be available on February 25, 2003.

The purpose of these amendments is to maintain compliance with the provisions of the Interstate management plan for Summer Flounder.

VIII. Pertaining to the Virginia Oyster Industry

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on a proposal and request for permit by the Virginia Seafood Council to deploy about one million triploid Suminoe oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) at 10 locations in Virginia waters for aquaculture and subsequent marketing trials. A permit is required under Section 28.2-825 of the Code of Virginia for the deployment of this non-native oyster in the water of the Commonwealth.  


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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