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COMMERCIAL FISHERIES NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 1997

NOTE: This newsletter may contain outdated material. Please review the Regulation Index and the What’s New pages to obtain the most recent versions of the Regulation information.

VMRC Fisheries News

OCTOBER 1997

PLANS & STATISTICS

1-800-937-9247

ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS NEWSLETTER IS SUMMARY INFORMATION. PLEASE REFER TO THE REGULATION CITED FOR LEGAL DOCUMENTATION.

 

THIS NEWSLETTER PROVIDES ONLY A SUMMARY OF MANAGEMENT MEASURES ADOPTED BY THE COMMISSION AND HAS NO LEGAL FORCE OR EFFECT. TO READ THE REQUIREMENTS IN THEIR ENTIRETY, YOU ARE URGED TO OBTAIN A COMPLETE COPY OF THE REGULATION BY CALLING 757-247-8067 OR 757-247-2272 or accessing the VMRC HOMEPAGE: http://www.state.va.us/mrc/homepage.htm

 

 

 

 

 

VIMS juvenile flounder study

$500 prize for bait

Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are tagging juvenile summer flounder in the Chesapeake Bay and are requesting help from the public in a project designed to see what proportion of young flounder are taken from Virginia and what proportion are taken elsewhere.

By attaching small, T-bar fabric tags to young flounder, VIMS researchers hope to learn about their movements from recapture data. This information, coupled with the fact that adult summer flounder are generally larger in the North, has led to the hypothesis that juveniles from southern nurseries migrate farther north as they get older.

With the help of those fishing from North Carolina to Massachusetts, VIMS researchers are hoping to test this hypothesis using the recapture information. To encourage the reporting of the tags, a reward system has been established where individuals can win up to $500 for returning the flounder tags.

VIMS researchers would greatly appreciate it if those who catch a tagged flounder would record the length, location, date and method of capture and return the tag and information to: VIMS Summer Flounder Tagging Program, P.O. Box 1346, Gloucester Point, VA 23062.

PEELERS VS. SOFT CRABS

Report what you harvest!!! Do not report soft crabs unless you are harvesting them in your gear!

 As we draw to a close on the peeler season. We are still receiving reports with soft crab numbers that have been shedded from peelers. If you sell to a dealer that is using your reporting tickets as a receipt, you must remember to delete the soft crabs and put down the number of peeler or soft crab that you harvested! As the "Mr. Softy", February 1997, newsletter said:"Its very simple if you catch a peeler...report it as a peeler; if it is a soft crab or you shed him aboard the boat, report it as a soft crab."

Crab Pot Season

As we draw to a close on the crab potting season, November 30, 1997; we have some concerns about the data received this season. The main problem was "hours fished". We need the number of hours the pots sit in the water, not the number of hours it takes a watermen to pull his/her pots. We capture this information to perform "Catch Per Unit Effort" (CPUE) Analysis. CPUE is an important part of our fishery management analysis.

CRAB POTS - HOURS FISHED

 

Crab Pot "hours fished" are the number of hours the crab pot was in the water. If you check your pots daily "hours fished" = 24 hours. If you place them on a Friday and don't check them again until Monday "hours fished" = 72 hours. Please put the soak time of the pots - not the hours it takes you to pull the pots out of the water!

Mandatory Reporting

 

Every year more and more watermen are sending their reports into our office on time, as required. Unfortunately, there are still a few watermen who are very delinquent with their reports. Getting good and timely data is essential to the management of our fisheries. Excessive delinquent reports impede our ability to manage the fishery with accurate data. Delinquent reports are being referred to the compliance department and will result in compliance action!

Additionally, we have folders that we cannot identify. Watermen have mailed the folder, and there is no name or commercial registration number on the folder. We can not give you credit for working, if we can not identify who you are. Please remember to put your name and commercial registration number on your daily slips and the folder, before it is sealed.

Newport News Shellfish Management Area

The newly established Newport News Shellfish Management Area (defined below) will be open to clamming on December 1, 1997. Weekdays, from sunrise to 2:00 PM, any clam that cannot pass through a 1 1/4" inside diameter cull ring may be harvested for direct market sale. There is a 2% tolerance by number of undersized clams. This area will remain open through March 31, 1998. Please be reminded in order to harvest within the security zone of Newport News Shipbuilding, watermen must fill the permit form found at VMRC Operations.

The Newport News Shellfish Management Area shall consist of all current public clamming grounds bounded by a line beginning at the intersection of the James River Bridge and Public Ground No. 1, Warwick County, downstream side; thence east southeasterly along the boundary to corner #5; Public Ground No. 1, Warwick County; thence southeast along the boundary to a corner (249,066.55/2,595,681.74); thence northeast along the boundary to the intersection of a line between the James River Bridge and the northwest corner of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company shipyard near station "HELO", said line being perpendicular to the James River Bridge; thence southeast along the defined line to the northwest corner of the shipyard; thence downstream to the offshore end of the floating drydock; thence to the offshore end of shipyard pier #6 just south of "Stack"; thence to the offshore end of pier #2 (F R Priv); thence to Fl Y "A" off the end of the pier just south of 23rd Street; thence to the offshore end of pier #9 (2 F Y siren); thence to the offshore end of the old coal pier downstream of pier #9; thence to navigational aid Fl G "13"; thence to the northeast corner of the Fan Building on the south island of the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel; thence southerly along the downstream side of the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel to the first overhead light structure on the bridge tunnel north of the small boat channel hump; thence northwesterly to corner #3, lease #10091 (Hazelwood); thence northwesterly along the boundary to corner #2, lease #10091 (Hazelwood); thence southwesterly to corner #1, Public Ground No. 2, Nansemond County; thence northwesterly along the boundary to corner #6, at the intersection of Public Ground No. 2, Nansemond County, and Public Ground No. 6, Isle of Wight County; thence north northwesterly along the boundary to corner #614, Public Ground No. 6, Isle of Wight County; thence north northwesterly along the boundary to corner #2, Public Ground No. 6, Isle of Wight County; thence northwesterly along the boundary to the intersection of the James River Bridge and Public Ground No. 6, Isle of Wight County; thence northeasterly along the downstream side of the James River Bridge to the intersection with Public Ground No. 1, Warwick County, at the point of beginning.

Recent Regulatory Actions

(New) Regulation 4VAC20-995-10 et seq. - "Pertaining to Commercial Hook-and-Line Fishing" - The purpose of this regulation is to establish a viable commercial hook-and-line fishery in Virginia tidal waters, while minimizing the potential for overharvesting of Virginia's fishery stocks and conflicts with the recreational fishery.

Concurrently, the possession limits for commercial hook-and-line watermen for Summer Flounder, Grey Trout, and Bluefish have been removed. A recently important recreational species, spadefish will continue to be managed by a six fish possession limit for commercial hook-and-line watermen. The new regulation will go into effect December 1, 1997. You are encouraged to visit our web site (see first page for address) for a complete copy of the regulation or you can call the office and request a copy of the regulation in it's entirety.

Regulation 4VAC20-890-10 et seq. - "Pertaining to Channeled Whelk" - The purpose of this regulation is to conserve the channeled whelk resource and provide for sustainable recruitment of channeled whelk to the fishery. A tolerance per bushel was recently established: It shall be unlawful for any person to possess more than 10 channeled whelk per bushel, which measure less than 5 1/2 inches in length.

Regulation 4VAC20-610-30A.3 et seq. - "Pertaining to the use of agents by registered commercial fishermen" - A.3. Any person is authorized to possess the registration license of a commercial fisherman's gear and selling the catch. No commercial fisherman shall use more than one person as an agent at any time. The agent shall possess the registration license and gear license of the commercial fisherman, when fishing. When transporting or selling a commercial fisherman's catch, the agent shall possess either the registration license of the commercial fisherman or a bill of lading indicating that fisherman's name, address, commercial fisherman registration license number, date and amount of product to be sold.

Regulation 4VAC20-720-10 et seq. - "Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest" - Below are the new dates for the upcoming oyster season:

A. James River Seed Area: October 1, 1997 - April 30, 1998.(same as last year)

B. James River Jail Island and Point of Shoals Clean Cull Areas: October 1, 1997 - April 30, 1998. (same as last year)

C. Seaside of Eastern Shore: for clean cull oysters only, November 1, 1997 - January 31, 1998. (same as last year)

D. The area of the Rappahannock River west of the Rt. 3 Bridge, including the Corrotoman River: November 1, 1997 - January 31, 1998. (new)

E. That area of the Nomini and Lower Machodoc Rivers to the Virginia-Maryland State Line (Nomini-PRV6A to PRV6B; Lower Machodoc PRV5A to PRV5C): November 1, 1997 - January 31, 1998. (new)

MULTIPLE JURISDICTIONS

 

Commercial harvesters who hold licenses in Virginia along with other jurisdictions such as: Maryland, Potomac River and/or North Carolina are reminded that any and all harvest from Virginia waters must be reported under the Virginia Mandatory Reporting Program.

 

COASTAL FISHERY DATA COLLECTION

Nearing Final Phase

 

The ACCSP(Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program) is moving forward in the design of a cooperative fisheries data collection system for fishermen and fisheries managers along the Atlantic coast. So far, the 23 program participants have agreed upon a mandatory, trip-based reporting system capturing both commercial fishermen and dealer data elements. They have recognized the importance of improving recreational data by expanding existing telephone and dockside surveys. They are currently looking into ways of identifying the total number of vessels and anglers.

Also being proposed is a system for collecting social and economic data from commercial harvesters, dealers, processors, wholesalers, and fishing communities. This data will be used to gain a better understanding of how people and their communities are impacted by fisheries regulations. As stocks recover, fisheries managers need this information to make decisions based on allocation rather than biology. The same type of data will also be collected from recreational anglers through dockside and telephone surveys.

ACCSP also proposes the following:

Fishermen and other interested persons are encouraged to comment on the design of the ACCSP program. Public comment period extends through March 31, 1998. Please direct comments and requests for more information to ACCSP Program Manager, 1444 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005; telephone:(202)289-6400; fax:(202)289-6051; Email: Connie_Youngdvbovsky@fws.gov.

Marine Mammals and Commercial Fisheries

The 1994 amendments to the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) instituted a new regime for the protection of marine mammals. The MMPA identifies marine mammals as an essential element in marine ecosystems. It seeks to maintain these animals at optimum sustainable population levels, principally by reducing the rate of mortality or serious injury to them.

Although the Act authorizes the incidental serious injury and mortality of marine mammals in the course of commercial fishing operations, the immediate goal is to reduce such taking to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate. Consistent with this goal, the Act directed the Secretary of Commerce (i.e., NMFS) to establish a registration system and issue regulations which would ensure that the techniques and equipment used by fishermen minimize hazards to marine mammals. All commercial fishermen are prohibited from incidentally taking marine mammals without specific Federal authorization for the taking in the form of a Marine Mammal Authorization certificate.

The MMPA requires NMFS to complete draft stock assessment reports for every population or stock of marine mammal in United States waters. The assessments, first published in July 1995, include a wide variety of information about each stock, including its range, an estimate of its minimum population and its net productivity (population growth rate), estimates of human-caused mortalities, a description of the commercial fisheries that are likely to have contact with the stock, and finally an estimate of the stock's Potential Biological Removal (PBR) level. PBR is the maximum number of animals that may be removed from a population without affecting its ability to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population. The assessment also identifies "strategic stocks"--those stocks that have a level of human-caused mortality likely to reduce or keep the stock below its optimum population. Strategic stocks are also those stocks that are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, depleted under the MMPA, or that are declining and likely to be listed in the future.

NMFS has classified each U.S. fishery according to whether there is a frequent (Category 1), occasional (Category II - Virginia Gillnetters are included in this category), or remote (Category III) likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury to marine mammals. NMFS then established several take reduction teams (TRT's) to develop take reduction plans for those fisheries with the greatest impact on marine mammal stocks (Category I and Category II). The TRT's are made up of individuals who represent the span of interests affected by the strategies to reduce takes, including commercial and recreational fishing industries, fishery management councils, interstate commissions, academic and scientific organizations, state officials, environmental groups, Native Alaskans or other Native American interests if appropriate, and NMFS representatives.

The immediate goal of Take Reduction Plans is to reduce, within 6 months of its implementation, the incidental take of marine mammals to below each stocks PBR level. The long-term goal of Take Reduction Plans is to reduce, within 5 years of the plan's implementation, the incidental take of marine mammals to insignificant levels approaching a zero mortality and serious injury rate. Once a TRT has been established, the team has 6 months to develop a draft Take Reduction Plan and submit it to NMFS. The draft plan must be approved by all members of the team. [If the team cannot come to consensus, NMFS has 8 months from the date the team was formed to develop a proposed plan and regulations for public comment. NMFS can use the team's deliberations as the basis for its proposed plan.] NMFS can allow for a comment period of up to 90 days for the public to review the plans and proposed regulations and provide comments to NMFS. After the close of the comment period on the proposed plan and regulations, NMFS has 60 days to publish a final plan. After the plan is adopted, the TRT and NMFS are to meet at least annually to monitor implementation of the plan.

To date, five TRT's have been established. Meetings of each TRT are being professionally facilitated and are open to the public. The three listed below effect the watermen fishing in Virginia's coastal waters.

For more information on the content of each plan, please contact Vicki Cornish at the NMFS Office of Protected Resources, (301) 713-2322.

Dogfish Fishery (FMP)

The Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils held public scoping meetings to allow for input on the development of Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Dogfish Fishery. The intended effect of this notice is to alert the interested public of the commencement of a scoping process and to provide for public participation. This action is necessary to comply with Federal environmental documentation requirements. Send comments, or if you need any additional information, to Mr. David R. Keifer, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Room 2115, Federal Building , 300 South New Street, Dover, Delaware 19904-6790 (Phone 302-674-2331) (FAX 302-674-5399) by November 21, 1997.

 

** Upcoming Public Hearings **

Proposed amendments:

Regulation 4VAC20-252-10 et seq. "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass," This will be the setting of the new Striped Bass regulation for 1998. Some proposed changes are: establish an Individual Transferrable Quota (ITQ) system for the commercial striped bass quota, and adjust recreational fishing dates for the Virginia tributaries of the Potomac River. (November 25, 1997 meeting)

 

Regulation 4VAC20-750-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Crab Dredge License Sales," a proposal to modify the criteria for license eligibility. (November 25, 1997 meeting)

 

Shad Restrictions

Currently, there are no federal mandates restricting shad harvest. The fishery is reported to be stable at historic low levels. There is an "Informational Hearing" set for the November 25, 1997 meeting. The Commission will not vote on any regulation changes but is requesting information from interested shad fishermen.

 

 

 

COMMERCIAL FISHING IN VIRGINIA'S TIDAL WATERS

* - Changes since last newsletter

AMBERJACK - Regulation 4VAC20-510-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit.........32 inches total length.

Possession Limit.......2 amberjack per person.

 

AMERICAN EEL - Regulation 4VAC20-500-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit...........6 inches total length. See regulation for details on eel pot restrictions.

 

AMERICAN SHAD - Reg. 4VAC20-530-10 et seq.

MORATORIUM...Unlawful for any person to catch or possess American shad from the Chesapeake Bay or its tidal tributaries.

OPEN FISHERY...Only in Virginia's portion of the Territorial Sea (east of the Colregs Remarcation Line).

 

BILLFISHES(Sailfish, White marlin, Blue marlin, Longbill spearfish) -

Reg. 4VAC20-350-10 et seq.

PROHIBITION OF SALE. Unlawful for any person to buy, sell, offer for sale, possess with intent to sell, barter or exchange billfish.

 

BLACK DRUM - (Drum, Drumfish) -Reg. 4VAC20-320-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit..........16 inches total length

Possession Limit........All hook & line fishermen are limited to 1 black drum per person

Harvest Quota............120,000 pounds per year from Virginia's tidal waters.

Permit Required.........All fishermen need to obtain a Black Drum Harvest/Selling Permit in order to catch, sell or possess black drum. All fisheries for black drum are under limited entry.

 

BLACK SEA BASS - Reg, 4VAC20-950-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit...........9 inches total length. See regulation for

details on fish pot restrictions

 

*BLUEFISH - Reg. 4VAC20-450-10 et seq.

Landings Quota....913,788 pounds

Commercial Hook-n-Line possession limits have been removed.

 

COBIA (Bonita) - Reg. 4VAC20-510-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit...37 inches total length.

Possession Limit....2 cobia per person.

 

*GREY TROUT (Weakfish) - Reg. 4VAC20-380-10 et seq.

Hook & Line Fishery..12 inch minimum size limit

Gill Net Fishery..12 inch minimum size limit; no possession of grey trout May 14-Oct. 7 and Dec. 18 through Mar. 31. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess up to 150 pounds of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Pound Net Fishery...No possession of grey trout May 1-22, and Sept. 13 through Mar. 31; See 4VAC20-380-50 for exceptions. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess up to 150 pounds of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Haul Seine Fishery...No possession of grey trout April 1-15, June 11 through Aug. 20, and Sep. 25 through Mar. 31. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess up to 150 pounds of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Trawl Fishery...Unlawful to land grey trout in VA less than 12 inches and to have a trawl net cod-end with mesh less than 3 inches. Closed season on landing grey trout by trawler is Sep. 26 through Mar. 31. During the CLOSED SEASON, you can possess a bycatch of up to 150lbs of grey trout of 12 inches or greater.

Other Gear Types......9 inch minimum size limit.

Commercial Hook-n-Line possession limits have been removed.

 

KING MACKEREL - Reg. 4VAC20-540-10 et seq.

Min. Size Limit...14 inches total length, except that a licensed pound net may take or possess king mackerel less than 14 inches total length.

 

RED DRUM (Puppy Drum) - Reg. 4VAC20-280-10 et seq.

Slot Size Limit..18 inch min and 27 inch max size limits (total length).

Possession Limit...Any person is limited to 5 red drum, only 1 of which may exceed 27 inches total length.

 

SCUP (Porgy) - Reg. 4VAC20-910-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit....9 inches total length.

Harvest Quota.....4158 pounds for May 1 through October 31. See regulation for details of additional landing and possession limits, as well as fish pot restrictions.

 

SHARKS(All species of shark excluding dogfish) - Reg. 4VAC20-490-10 et seq.

Minimum Size Limit..58 inches fork length or 31 inches in carcass length; except, any person may harvest and land for commercial purposes from Virginia's portion of the Territorial Sea within the three nautical mile line only up to 200 pounds of shark carcasses less than 31 inches in carcass length.

Possession Limit..All hook & line and spear fishermen are limited to 1 shark per person.

Catch Limit...A vessel may not land or have on board any more than 7500 pounds of shark carcasses per day. Longlining and finning sharks are prohibited; however, fins may be removed at sea provided the carcass of the shark is retained and counted as part of any possession or landing limit.

 

SPADEFISH - Reg. 4VAC20-970-10 et seq.

Possession Limit... All hook & line and spear fishermen are limited to 6 spadefish per person.

 

SPANISH MACKEREL - Reg. 4VAC20-540-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit..14 inches total length.

Catch Limit..No person may land more than 3500 pounds of Spanish mackerel per vessel per trip.

 

SPECKLED TROUT - Reg. 4VAC20-280-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit..14 inches total length.

Possession Limit...All hook & line fisherman are limited to 10 speckled trout per person

Pound Net and Haul Seine Fisheries..up to 5% tolerance (speckled trout under 14 inches) by weight.

Harvest Quota..51,104 pounds for Sept. through Aug., for each 12 month period.

 

STRIPED BASS (Rockfish) - Reg. 4VAC20-252-10 et seq.

It is unlawful for any person to engage in the commercial fishery for striped bass without first having obtained the necessary fisherman's registration license, appropriate gear license and the special permit to fish for striped bass. The minimum size limit and season restrictions must be observed and all commercially harvested striped bass must be identified with a tamper evident sealed tag that has been approved and issued by the appropriate authority in the jurisdiction of capture.

 

STURGEON - Code Section 28.2-303

It is unlawful to take, catch or possess any sturgeon.

 

*SUMMER FLOUNDER - Reg. 4VAC20-620-10 et seq.

Min Size Limit...14 inches total length.

Harvest Quota..300,000 lbs per yr from VA tidal waters.

Commercial Hook-n-Line possession limits have been removed.

 

TAUTOG - Reg. 4VAC20-960-10 et seq.

Minimum Size Limit...13 inches total length. (See regulation for details of fish pot restrictions)

 

VMRC CALENDAR

 

  NOVEMBER

 VMRC, Nov 25, 9:00a.m.

- Public Hearing - 4VAC20-750-10 "Pertaining to Crab Dredge License Sales" - 4VAC20-252-10 "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"

 FINFISH, Nov 18, VMRC - Conf. Rm, 7 p.m.

RFAB, Nov 10, VMRC Conf. Rm, 7 p.m.

PRFC, Nov 21, Colonial Beach, 9:30a.m.

LRC, Nov 18 (MD)

  DECEMBER

VMRC, Dec 23,(tentative) 9:00a.m.

FINFISH, Dec 16, VMRC - Conf. Rm, 7 p.m.

MAFMC, Dec 16-18 (MD)

ASMFC, Dec 1-5 (DC)

LRC, Dec 16 (MD)

 

VMRC - Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Meetings set as 4th Tuesday of each month. Meetings begin at 9:00 a.m. (fisheries items are generally considered after 12 noon). Held at Commission Main office.

CLAM - Clam Management Advisory Committee. Meetings to be announced. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. Held at Commission Main office.

FINFISH - Finfish Management Advisory Committee. Meetings generally the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. Held at Commission Main office.

BLUECRAB - Blue Crab Management Advisory Committee. Meetings to be announced. Held at Commission Main office.

SHELLFISH - Shellfish Management Advisory Committee. Meetings will be held quarterly (February-April-July-October). Held at VIMS, Gloucester Point, VA.

RFAB - VMRC Recreational Fishing Advisory Board. Meeting generally begin 7 p.m. Held at Commission Main office.

CFAB - VMRC Commercial Fishing Advisory Board. Meetings generally begin 4 p.m. Held at Commission Main office.

MAFMC - Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Call (302)674-2331 to find out the meeting locations. (The city and state change for each meeting).

ASMFC - Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Call (202)452-9110 to find out the meeting location. (The city and state change for each meeting).

ESORC - Seaside Eastern Shore Oyster Replenishment Committee. Meetings to be announced. Held at VIMS in Wachapreague, VA.

LRC - Living Resources Committee. Meetings held the 3rd Tuesday of each month at Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, MD.

RHD - Reef Habitat Development Subcommittee. Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Annapolis, MD.

ISSC - Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference. Call Mr. Ken Moore (803) 788-7559 for more information. Conference held in Sturbridge, MA.

PRFC - Potomac River Fisheries Commission. 222 Taylor Street; P.O. Box 9; Colonial Beach, VA 22443, (804)224-7148, (800)266-3904

NOTE: Committee Dates are tentative. Check with VMRC Fisheries Management Division to verify date, time, and place, (757)247-2200. Shellfish Committee and Seaside Eastern Shore Oyster Replenishment Committee meetings - verify date, time and place by calling 757-247-2120

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