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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, August 2016

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to the regulations, as proposed below. By August 8, 2016, the proposed draft regulations may be viewed at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments to these regulations will be held no earlier than 12:00 noon, on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Public comments on the proposals should be provided to Robert L. O’Reilly, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 12:00 p.m., Monday, August 22, 2016.

I. Chapter 4 VAC 20-450-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Bluefish.”

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-450-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Bluefish,” to establish the 2016 commercial bluefish quota as 580,287 pounds.

The purpose of this amendment is to comply with the federal and interstate management plans for this species.

II. Chapter 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest”

The Commission will consider proposed amendments to Chapter 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest,” to establish area-specific public oyster harvest seasons from October 1, 2016 through May 31, 2017, for public oyster grounds and unassigned grounds. The Commission will also consider proposed amendments to Chapter 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., to reduce harvest effort. Harvest effort reductions may include, alone or in combination, but not be limited to the following conservation measures:

1) Maintenance of prohibition on the purchase of oyster resource user fees adopted on February 23, 2016.

2) Establish that no new oyster resource user fees may be purchased, until the total number of valid oyster resource user fees totals fewer than 600.

3) Provide for transfers of eligibility to pay oyster resource user fees will be allowed between direct family members and from individuals who paid current-year oyster resource user fees and can document at least 40 days of oyster harvest, from public or unassigned oyster grounds, during the previous calendar year.

Establishment of additional harvest-area measures:

1) The Commission proposes to open public ground 106 in the Yeocomico River to hand tong harvest.

2) The Commission proposes to subdivide Rotation Area 2 in the Tangier and Pocomoke Sound Management Area into two sections, and initiate a three-year rotation system in that area. Area 2 will be open from December 1, 2016, through February 28, 2017.

In accordance with Section 28.2-204.1 of the Code of Virginia, the purpose of these amendments is to manage the Virginia public oyster resource for sustainable harvest and to prevent overfishing.

III. Chapter 4 VAC 20-260-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Designation of Seed Areas and Clean Cull Areas.”

The Commission will consider proposed amendments to Chapter 4 VAC 20-260-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Designation of Seed Areas and Clean Cull Areas,” to establish the plastic basket as the only standard for measure of public market (clean cull) oysters and the dimensions of the plastic basket as follows:

1) Establish the “orange” plastic basket as the only standard of measure for the public market (clean cull) oyster harvest.

2) Establish the volumetric description of the basket as 2,566 cubic inches, with the top inside diameter 17”, the bottom inside diameter 13.5”, and the inside height 14”. The current regulation states the definition of “basket” as “a circular plastic mesh container of not less than 2,500 cubic inches but not more than 3,000 cubic inches.”

In accordance with Section 28.2-203 of the Code of Virginia, the purpose of these amendments is to promote efficiency in the utilization of the Virginia public oyster resource.

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VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES; THEREFORE, IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS BECAUSE OF A DISABILITY, PLEASE ADVISE JANE MCCROSKEY (757-247-2215) NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.


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