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Public Notice: Pertaining to Horseshoe Crabs

NOTICE

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on a proposed amendment to Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Horseshoe Crabs." The amendment, described below, prohibits the taking of horseshoe crabs by dredge during the peak crab spawning season of May 1-June 7. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to protect horseshoe crabs in Virginia waters during their spawning migration. Additionally, the Commission invites comment on several measures concerning horseshoe crab habitat and conservation as required by the interstate fishery management plan for horseshoe crabs.

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed regulation will be held at 12 noon on Tuesday, April 27, 1999, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Written comments on the proposal should be mailed to: Jack Travelstead, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, P. O. Box 756, Newport News, Virginia 23607. A copy of the proposed regulation 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 regulation may call the Commission at (757) 247-2248.

Proposed Amendment Pertaining to Horseshoe Crabs:

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to take, catch, harvest or attempt to take, catch or harvest horseshoe crabs with a dredge from the tidal waters of Virginia from May 1 through June 7.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess horseshoe crabs taken by dredge from the tidal waters of Virginia from May 1 through June 7.

Habitat Conservation and Restoration Measures Recommended by Interstate Fishery Management Plan. The Commission will: 

A. Identify both horseshoe crab spawning and nursery habitat by December 31, 1999.

B. Actively intervene to the extent of its authority to ensure that federal, state, and local regulatory agencies are aware of the potential loss in horseshoe crab productivity associated with water quality degradation and habitat loss.

C. Attempt to categorize and prioritize essential horseshoe crab habitat (both spawning and nursery habitat) within areas of its jurisdiction. Periodic monitoring should be designed and implemented to ensure the long-term viability of critical horseshoe crab spawning beaches.

D. Consider obtaining land adjacent to critical spawning beaches to ensure the long-term protection of these beaches. Protection of essential habitat should be pursued through acquisition, deed restrictions, or conservation easements. In addition, states should pursue restricting all-terrain vehicles and beach watercraft activity (e.g., jet skis) on spawning beaches during the spawning season (with the exception of emergency vehicles) to minimize mortality of horseshoe crab embryos and larvae.

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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.

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