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Public Notice: Pertaining to Crabbing 2001

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 the adoption of the proposed amendments will be held at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, March 20, 2001, at the Virginia 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. A copy of the proposed regulations may be reviewed at the Commission during Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the proposed regulations may call the Commission offices at (757) 247-2248.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

Regulation 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing," Regulation 4 VAC 20-40-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Catch Limits," Regulation 4 VAC 20-300-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Catch Limits," Regulation 4 VAC 20-670-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Recreational Gear Licenses," Regulation 4 VAC 20-700-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Pots, and Regulation 4 VAC 20-880-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Hard Crab and Peeler Pot License Sales."

The Marine Resources Commission proposes amendments to the above-listed regulations to achieve in 2001 a five percent reduction in the harvest of blue crabs as compared to the 1997-1999 period. The Commission proposes to adopt at least one of the proposed measures below or a combination of these measures to achieve the targeted reduction in harvest.

1) Prohibit all crabbing during one day per week (in addition to the current Sunday closure).
2) Prohibit all crabbing during a monthly closure or partial monthly closure.
3) Restrict the setting and fishing of crab pots and peeler pots to an 8-hour workday to start no later than one hour before sunrise. No pot may be placed overboard or pulled from the water outside of the designated 8 hour workday.
4) Reduce the number of crab pots and peeler pots that may be lawfully set and fished by each licensed fisherman.
5) Establish daily bushel limits on the quantity of crabs which may be harvested and landed by each licensed crab fisherman. 
6) Require the use of additional escape rings (cull rings) in each crab pot.
7) Prohibit the dredging of crabs during a monthly or partial monthly closure.
8) Reduce the daily harvest limit for vessels in the winter crab dredge fishery from 20 barrels to 17 barrels, and
9) Limit all licensed recreational crabbers to one bushel of hard crabs and two dozen peeler crabs per day.

Regulation 4 VAC 20-751-10-et seq., "Pertaining to the Setting and Mesh Size of Gill Nets." 

The proposed amendment prohibits any person from placing, setting, or fishing in Virginia waters more than a total of seven 1200-ft. gill nets during the period May 1 through June 30. A further proposed amendment prohibits the placing, setting, or fishing of any gill net in a tied-down fashion to form a pocket of webbing. Additionally, it is proposed to prohibit any person from placing, setting or fishing any gill net with a mesh greater than 6 inches in the Virginia portion of the Territorial Sea south of Smith Island Lighthouse from June 1 through June 30. The purpose of these amendments is to reduce the strandings and mortalities of endangered and threatened sea turtles.

Regulation 4 VAC 20-561-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Hampton Flats Hard Clam Harvest Area."

The proposed regulation opens, on April 2, 2001, the area defined as Hampton Flats Clam Harvest Area for the relay of hard clams. The current season does not open until May 1, 2001. The Hampton Flats Hard Clam Harvest Area is proposed to consist of all tidal waters within a line beginning at the Newport News Boat Harbor inshore at the VMRC Operations Building; thence continuing southeasterly to buoy R "22," thence following the buoy line to the north side of the Explosives Landing Berth; thence in a northwesterly direction to buoy "18," continuing northbound and extending through Channel Marker "2" to the shoreline Radio Tower; thence following the shoreline in a southwesterly direction back to the VMRC Operations building. The purpose of the proposed regulation is to provide for the additional harvest of hard clams in the Hampton Flats area.

Regulation 4 VAC 20-890-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Channeled Whelk" 

The proposed amendment exempts channeled whelk, harvested and landed in other jurisdictions and imported into Virginia, from the current minimum size limit and tolerance restrictions, provided the channeled whelk are transported by land and a bill of lading or certification accompanies each shipment. Currently, it is unlawful for any person to possess more than 10 channeled whelk (30 per barrel), per bushel or bag, which measure less than 5 1/2" in length or which can be passed through a culling ring of 2 3/4" in diameter. The purpose of the amendment is to minimize regulatory burdens which inhibit normal business operations.

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VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES; THEREFORE, IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS DUE TO A DISABILITY, PLEASE ADVISE DEBORAH CAWTHON (757) 247-2248 NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.

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