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CHAPTER: PERTAINING TO HORSESHOE CRABS

VIRGINIA MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION
"PERTAINING TO HORSESHOE CRABS"
CHAPTER 4 VAC 20-900-12 ET. SEQ.

PREAMBLE

This chapter establishes licensing requirements for the harvesting of horseshoe crabs by hand and exemptions from these requirements. This chapter also establishes commercial fisheries management measures for horseshoe crabs, including an annual commercial quota for horseshoe crabs, that comply with the provisions of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crab.

This chapter is promulgated pursuant to the authority contained in 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia. This chapter amends and re-adopts, as amended, previous Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq. which was promulgated April 24, 2007 and made effective on July 1, 2007.  The effective date of this chapter, as amended, is January 1, 2010.

4 VAC 20-900-10. PURPOSE. 

The purpose of this chapter is to establish commercial fisheries management measures and monitoring requirements in accordance with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crab.

4 VAC 20-900-20. DEFINITION. 

The following words or terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"COLREGS Line" means the COLREGS Demarcation Lines, as specified in Coastal Pilot, 35th and 36th editions by Lighthouse Press.

"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 1,000 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.  From January 1 through June 7 of each year, it shall be unlawful for any person to land, in Virginia, any horseshoe crab harvested from federal waters. 

C.  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.

D.  The commercial quota of horseshoe crab for 2010 shall be 137,168 horseshoe crabs.  Additional quantities of horseshoe crab may be transferred to Virginia by other jurisdictions in accordance with the provisions of Addendum I to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for Horseshoe Crab, April 2000, provided that the combined total of the commercial quota and transfer from other jurisdictions shall not exceed 355,000 horseshoe crabs.  It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest from Virginia waters, or to land in Virginia, any horseshoe crab for commercial purposes after any calendar-year commercial quota of horseshoe crab has been attained and announced as such. 

E.  During each calendar year no more than 40% of the commercial horseshoe crab quota and any and all transfers of quota from other jurisdictions shall be harvested from waters east of the COLREGS Line.  It shall be unlawful for any person to harvest horseshoe crabs from waters east of the COLREGS Line, or to land horseshoe crabs, in Virginia, that are harvested east of the COLREGS Line, after 40% of Virginia's horseshoe crab quota and any and all transfers of quota have been attained, for this designated area, and announced as such. 

F.  It shall be unlawful for any person whose harvest of horseshoe crabs is from waters east of the COLREGS Line to possess aboard a vessel or to land in Virginia any quantity of horseshoe crabs that, in aggregate, is not comprised of at least a minimum ratio of two male horseshoe crabs to one female horseshoe crab.  For the purposes of this regulation, no horseshoe crab shall be considered a male horseshoe crab unless it possesses at least one modified, hook-like appendage as its first pair of walking legs.

G.  Limitations on the daily harvest and possession of horseshoe crabs for any vessel described below are as follows:

    1.  It shall be unlawful for any person who meets the requirements of 4 VAC 20-900-30 D and holds a valid horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess aboard any vessel or to land any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 5,000, except that when it is projected and announced that 85% of the commercial quota is taken it shall be unlawful for any person who meets the requirements of 4 VAC 20-900-30 D and holds a valid horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess aboard any vessel in Virginia any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 2,500.

    2.  It shall be unlawful for any person who meets the requirements of 4 VAC 20-900-30 E and holds a valid horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess aboard any vessel or to land any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 2,000, except that when it is projected and announced that 85% of the commercial quota is taken, it shall be unlawful for any person who meets the requirements of 4 VAC 20-900-30 D and holds a valid horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess aboard any vessel in Virginia any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 1,000.  The harvest of horseshoe crabs, described in this subdivision, shall be restricted to using only crab dredge.

    3.  It shall be unlawful for any registered commercial fisherman or seafood landing licensee who does not possess a horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess horseshoe crabs, without first obtaining a horseshoe crab bycatch permit.  It shall be unlawful for a horseshoe crab bycatch permittee to possess aboard any vessel more than 500 horseshoe crabs or for any vessel to land any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 500, per day.  When it is projected and announced that 50% of the commercial quota is taken, it shall be unlawful for any person with a horseshoe crab bycatch permit to possess aboard any vessel more than 250 horseshoe crabs or for any vessel to land any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 250, per day.

H.  It shall be unlawful for any fisherman issued a horseshoe crab endorsement license to offload any horseshoe crabs between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

I.  When it is projected and announced that 20% of the commercial quota, as described in 4 VAC20-900-25D, has been taken from waters east of the COLREGS line, the limitations on the possession and landing of horseshoe crabs are as follows: 

    1.  It shall be unlawful for any person who possesses a valid horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess aboard any vessel, in waters east of the COLREGS Line, or to land more than 2,500 horseshoe crabs per day.

    2.  It shall be unlawful for any person who possesses a valid restricted horseshoe crab endorsement license to possess aboard any vessel, in waters east of the COLREGS Line, or to land more than 1,000 horseshoe crabs per day.

    3.  It shall be unlawful for any person who possesses a valid horseshoe crab bycatch permit to possess aboard any vessel, in waters east of the COLREGS Line, or to land more than 250 horseshoe crabs per day.

4 VAC 20-900-30. LICENSE REQUIREMENTS 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.

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

C.  Except as provided for in 4 VAC 20-900-25 G 3, it shall be unlawful for any boat or vessel to land horseshoe crabs in Virginia for commercial purposes without first obtaining a horseshoe crab endorsement license as described in this section.  The horseshoe crab endorsement license shall be required of each boat or vessel used to land horseshoe crabs for commercial purposes. Possession of any quantity of horseshoe crabs that exceeds the limit described in subsection B of this section shall be presumed for commercial purposes.  There shall be no fee for the license.

D.  To be eligible for an unrestricted horseshoe crab endorsement license, the boat or vessel shall have landed and sold at least 500 horseshoe crabs in Virginia in at least one year during the period 1998-2000, except as described in subsection E of this section.

    1. The owner shall complete an application for each boat or vessel by providing to the Marine Resources Commission a notarized and signed statement of applicant's name, address, telephone number, boat or vessel name and its registration or documentation number.

    2. The owner shall complete a notarized authorization to allow the Marine Resources Commission to obtain copies of landings data from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
E.  Any Virginia registered commercial fisherman is eligible for a horseshoe crab endorsement license that is restricted to using a crab dredge to harvest horseshoe crabs provided his boat or vessel shall have landed at least 10,000 pounds of whelk in any one year from 2002 through 2005.
    1.  The Virginia registered commercial fisherman shall complete an application for each boat or vessel by providing to the Marine Resources Commission a notarized and signed statement of applicant's name, address, telephone number, boat or vessel name and its registration or documentation number.

    2.  The Virginia registered commercial fisherman shall complete a notarized authorization to allow the Marine Resources Commission to obtain copies of whelk landings data from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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 Marine Resources Commission all harvests of horseshoe crabs including, but not limited to, bait fisheries, bycatch, biomedical industry, and scientific and educational research harvests. Reporting requirements shall consist of numbers and pounds landed by sex, harvest method and harvest location.

B.  It shall be unlawful for a horseshoe crab endorsement license holder to fail to contact the Marine Resources Operations Station prior to the vessel issued a horseshoe crab endorsement license offloading horseshoe crabs.  The horseshoe crab endorsement license holder shall provide the Marine Resources Commission the name of the vessel and its captain and the anticipated or approximate offloading time and site.  Following offloading, the horseshoe crab endorsement license holder shall contact the Virginia Marine Resources Commission Interactive-Voice-Response (IVR) System within 24 hours of landing and provide his horseshoe crab endorsement license number; the time, date and location of offloading; and the number of horseshoe crabs landed. 

C.  It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to buy any horseshoe crabs from any lawful harvester on or after July 1, 2007, without first having obtained a Horseshoe Crab Buying Permit from the Marine Resources Commission.  The permit application shall be completed in full by the licensed seafood buyer, and a copy of the permit shall be kept in possession of the licensed buyer while buying or possessing horseshoe crabs.

D.  Any licensed seafood buyer permitted to purchase horseshoe crabs shall provide written reports to the commission of daily purchases and harvest information on forms provided by the commission.  Such information shall include the date of the purchase, the buyer's horseshoe crab permit number and harvester's Commercial Fisherman Registration License number, gear type used, water area fished, city or county of landing, and number of female horseshoe crabs and male horseshoe crabs purchased.  These reports of any current weekly purchases shall be completed in full and submitted to the commission no later than Thursday of the following week.  In addition, once it has been projected and announced that 85% of the commercial quota of horseshoe crab has been landed or 34% of the commercial quota of horseshoe crab established for the horseshoe crab harvest east of the COLREGS Line has been landed each permitted buyer shall call the commission's interactive voice recording system on a daily basis to report his name and permit number, date, number of female horseshoe crabs and number of male horseshoe crabs purchased, gear used and water area fished by the harvester.

E.  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 percentage of mortality up to the point of release including that mortality which occurs during harvest, shipping, handling, and bleeding.

F.  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.

G.  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 chapter shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this chapter committed by the same person within twelve months of a prior violation is a Class I misdemeanor.


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