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, January 22, 2002, 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. A copy of the proposed amendments 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.
Blue Crab Fishery
Regulation 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing"; 4 VAC 20-700-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Pots"; and 4 VAC 20-880-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Hard Crab and Peeler Pot License Sales."
The Commission proposes several alternatives, listed below, to reduce blue crab harvest by a minimum of 5 percent in 2002 to stay within the target fishing mortality rate. The target fishing mortality rate was adopted by consensus of the Bi-State Blue Crab Advisory Committee to be implemented by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. The Commission will consider the options listed, individually and in combination, to achieve the necessary reduction in harvest.
1) Establish an 8-hour workday for commercial crab potting and peeler potting.
2) Close Tuesdays from June 4 through August 20 to all commercial crab potting and peeler potting,
3) Close Tuesdays from June 4 through November 26 to all commercial crab potting and peeler potting.
4) Close Wednesdays from May 8 through November 27 to all commercial crab potting and peeler potting.
5) Close Wednesdays from April 3 through November 27 to all commercial crab potting and peeler potting.
6) Close Wednesdays from April 3 through November 27 to all commercial crab potting and peeler potting.
7) Establish a 3 1/2 inch minimum size limit on peeler crabs, a 4 1/4 inch minimum size limit on soft crabs, and require the use of 1 1/2 inch cull (escape) rings in each peeler crab pot.
8) Establish a 3 inch minimum size limit on peeler crabs.
9) Reduce the recreational harvest of blue crabs by establishing a limit of one bushel of hard crabs and two dozen peeler crabs per boat or vessel.
10) Reduce the use of crabbing licenses as an agent by limiting each fisherman to the use of no more than 500 hard crab pots and 300 peeler crab pots in Virginia tidal waters.
Commercial Striped Bass Fishery
Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"
The Commission proposes several alternatives, listed below, to reduce the highgrading of large striped bass in the commercial fishery and the excessive harvest of striped bass in the coastal waters of Virginia, and to decrease the probability of exceeding the commercial harvest quota. The Commission will also consider variations in these alternatives.
1) Establish a 98,000 pound commercial striped bass harvest quota for the coastal waters of Virginia and closure of the fishery in these areas when the quota is taken.
2) Require commercial fishermen to use two striped bass tags for each striped bass greater than or equal to 34 inches in length but less than 40 inches in length and three striped bass tags for striped bass greater than or equal to 40 inches, total length.
3) Close the commercial striped bass fishery in the coastal waters of Virginia from Cape Charles Lighthouse to the Virginia/North Carolina state line.
4) Establish a maximum gill net mesh size of 7 inches, stretched mesh measure, for the waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay .
Commercial Black Sea Bass Fishery
Regulation 4 VAC 20-940-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Black Sea Bass"
The Commission proposes to reduce the first quarter (January 1, 2002 through March 31, 2002) commercial possession limit for black sea bass from 9,000 pounds to 7,000 pounds and to eliminate the use of percentage-based quota triggers and corresponding reduced possession limits for the remainder of the first quarter. The Commission has adopted these measures on an emergency basis, effective January 1, 2002, and, now proposes to make these amendments permanent parts of the regulation.
The purpose of the proposed amendments is to extend the harvest of black sea bass over a longer period of time and to reduce the possibility of exceeding the harvest quota.
Commercial Summer Flounder Fishery
Regulation 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Summer Flounder"
The Commission proposes to modify the commercial possession limits for the first quarter (January 1, 2002-March 31, 2002) for the offshore fishery as follows:
1) From the first Monday in January through the first Sunday in February, the possession limit shall be 10%, by weight, of the total catch of all other species on board the vessel.
2) From the first Monday in February through March 31, the possession and landing limit shall be 7,500 pounds.
The Commission has adopted these measures on an emergency basis, effective January 1, 2002, and now proposes to make these amendments a permanent part of the regulation.
The purpose of the proposed amendments is to delay the harvest of summer flounder to a period when the economic value of the fishery can be improved.
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 TIME AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEED.