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Publice Notice: Pertaining to Landing Licenses

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, November 23, 2004 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, November 22, 2004.  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 20-920-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Landing Licenses"

The Commission invites public comment on whether it should allow hardship exception requests to obtain a Summer Flounder Endorsement License, for entry into the limited access, commercial, offshore summer flounder fishery.  Currently, a vessel is considered eligible for this fishery, if the boat or vessel landed and sold at least 500 pounds of summer flounder in at least one year during the period 1993-95.  Under the proposed hardship exception request process, a fisherman who provides an opinion and supporting documentation, from an attending physician, to the Commissioner, of an existing medical condition, proof of Active Military Service, documentation that indicates substantial vessel damage or other significant extenuating circumstances that prevented him from landing and selling 500 pounds of summer flounder in at least one year during the period 1993-95 and can provide documentation of having landed at least 500 pounds of summer flounder during any one year of the 1990-1992 period may be authorized for an exception to the requirements to be eligible for a Summer Flounder Endorsement License. 

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

On October 26, 2004, the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), an amendment to the above regulation that increases the commercial harvest and possession limit, from 2,000 pounds to 3,500 pounds of scup, for the Winter II period (November 1 through December 31).

The provisions of the emergency amendment to this regulation are effective on November 1, and the Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq., at its November 23, 2004 meeting.

III. Regulation 4 VAC 20-25-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Pound Net Siting Public Interest Review"

The Commission proposes to establish procedures associated with a public interest review, for the licensing of pound nets at new locations.  The proposed regulation requires the owner of any pound net, making application to set his net at a new location, to advertise the proposed location in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the net is proposed.  The cost of the publication shall be borne by the applicant.  The Commission will place a notice of the new location on the agency's web site and will inform all property owners within 500 feet of the new location. 

A public comment period will extend for 30 days, from the date of advertisement.  Receipt of any protest by the Commissioner during the comment period shall cause the application to be placed on the next available agenda of the Commission.  The proposed regulation also lists those factors that will guide the Commission in its decision to grant or deny, or alter the location of the pound net.

IV.    The Commission invites public comment on the re-issuance of a pound net license to Mr. Ernest L. George of White Stone, Virginia, for a pound net currently located in the Rappahannock River, 1/4 mile east of Windmill Point Marina Channel, at 37º 36' 46.5" N; 76º 17' 13.6" W. The issuance of a pound net license, for 2005, at the described location is protested by adjacent property owners.

V.    Regulation 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Oyster Harvest Restrictions," and 4 VAC 20-650-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Establishment of Oyster Management Areas."

The Commission proposes to open the following public grounds to the  harvest of oysters.

a) In the Lower Chesapeake Bay, an area known as Deep Rock, FOR PATENT TONG ONLY:  February 1, 2005 through March 31, 2005.

b) In the James River, an area extending from the James River Rt. 17 bridge to a line drawn from the south side of the river at Rainbow Farm Pt. To the channel buoy Green #5 and then to Blount Pt. On the north side of the river, which will be named The Thomas Rock Management Area.  HAND SCRAPE ONLY, December 1, 2004 through January 31, 2005.

c) In the upper Chesapeake Bay an area known as Blackberry Hangs; For Hand Scrape Only, December 1, 2004 through January 31, 2005.

d) In the York River, above the Rt. 17 (Coleman) bridge an area along the north side of the river to Aberdeen Creek (Public Ground No. 30), FOR HAND SCRAPE ONLY:  December 1, 2004 through January 31, 2005.

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