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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, January 2011

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposed amendments to regulations listed below. 

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed regulations will be held at 12:00 Noon, on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 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, by 5:00 p.m., Monday, January 24, 2011.  Copies of the proposed regulations 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.

A)  Establishment of Oyster Aquaculture Opportunity Zones as authorized by Section 28.2-603 of the Code of Virginia.

The Commission proposes to establish these opportunity zones, in accordance with Section 28.2-603 (B) of the Code of Virginia that was adopted during the 2010 Session of the General Assembly.  This legislation directs the Commission to establish commercial "shellfish aquaculture opportunity zones" off the shores of the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, and Tangier Island.  Establishment of these zones by regulation will provide aquaculture opportunities, such as oyster cage aquaculture, for those citizens who do not have ready access to leased oyster grounds.  The new law also provides that users of such zones will be exempt from 1) the requirement to post notice of an application for leasing ground, 2) the costs and requirements to have the ground surveyed, 3) the costs of preparation and recording of the plat, and 4) the annual payment of rent.  The 10-year duration of a lease also will not apply. 

Initially the Commission proposes fifteen aquaculture opportunity zones, ranging from 8 acres to 210 acres in size.  These sites are listed below, and also may be viewed in greater detail by accessing the VMRC website, under Agency News (http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/whatsnew.shtm).
[Aquaculture Zone Index | Aquaculture Parcels | Aquaculture Locations]

Aquaculture Zone 1 - said parcel being 27.81 acres+/- located in the Severn River in Gloucester County, southeast of Whittaker Creek and north of Public Grounds 19 & 20 of Gloucester County.  [Aquaculture Zone 1]

Aquaculture Zone 2 - said parcel being 26.87 acres+/- located in the Ware River in Gloucester County, east of Page Creek and approximately 6100 feet northwest of Tow Stake Point.  [Aquaculture Zone 2]

Aquaculture Zone 3 - said parcel being 26.87 acres+/- located in the Ware River in Gloucester County, near Beulla and Aquaculture Zone 4, approximately 5500 feet east of Jarvis Point.  [Aquaculture Zone 3

Aquaculture Zone 4 - said parcel being 35.74 acres+/- located in the Ware River in Gloucester County, near Ware Neck and Aquaculture Zone 3, approximately 3900 feet northwest of Ware Neck Point.  [Aquaculture Zone 4]

Aquaculture Zone 5 - said parcel being 15.18 acres+/- located in the North River in Mathews County, approximately 2200 feet west of Roys Point and north of Public Ground 3 & 4 of Mathews County.  [Aquaculture Zone 5 and 6]

Aquaculture Zone 6 - said parcel being 32.92 acres+/- located in the North River in Mathews County, south of Blackwater Creek and east of Public Ground 4 & 2 of Mathews County. 

Aquaculture Zone 7 - said parcel being 11.56 acres+/- located in the East River in Mathews County near Aquaculture Zone 8, approximately 800 feet north of Sharp Point and west of Public Ground 2 of Mathews County.  [Aquaculture Zone 7 and 8]

Aquaculture Zone 8 - said parcel being 11.97 acres+/- located in the East River in Mathews County near Aquaculture Zone 7, south of Thomas Creek and west of Public Ground 2 of Mathews County.

Aquaculture Zone 9 - said parcel being 7.90 acres+/- located in the East River in Mathews County, opposite Williams Wharf, approximately 1800 feet north of Raines Creek and west of Public Ground 2 of Mathews County.  [Aquaculture Zone 9]

Aquaculture Zone 10 - said parcel being 117.52 acres+/- located in the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County, north of Meachem Creek, approximately 6000 feet west of the Norris Bridge at Greys Point and south of Public Ground 1 of Middlesex County.  [Aquaculture Zone 10]

Aquaculture Zone 11 - said parcel being 99.48 acres+/- located in the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County, southeast of Mosquito Point and north of Public Ground 1 of Lancaster County.  [Aquaculture Zone 11]

Aquaculture Zone 12 - said parcel being 53.28 acres+/- located in the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County, south of Mosquito Creek near Deep Hole Point.   [Aquaculture Zone 12]

Aquaculture Zone 13 - said parcel being 210.28 acres+/- located in the Chesapeake Bay in Accomack County, near the southern end of Tangier Island and southwest of the spit west of Cod Harbor.   [Aquaculture Zone 13]

Aquaculture Zone 14 - said parcel being 210.28 acres+/- located in the Chesapeake Bay in Accomack County, approximately 2800 feet west of Goose Island and 4800 feet northwest of the northern most point of Tangier Island.   [Aquaculture Zone 14]

Aquaculture Zone 15 - said parcel being 116.66 acres+/- located in the Tangier Sound in Accomack County, approximately 3400 northeast of the northernmost point of Tangier Island and 3100 feet southeast of Queen Ridge.   [Aquaculture Zone 15]

The following provisions are advertised for public comment:

1)  Any Virginia resident may apply for use of a portion of any opportunity zone.

2)  Applications will be considered in the order they are received.

3)  The application and use fee shall be $100.00 (a one-time fee).

4)  No application shall be for more than five acres at any one site.

5)  Marking of the assigned plot shall be in accordance with Regulation 4VAC20-335-10 et seq.

6)  Use of the assigned plot shall be limited to sunrise to sunset.

7)  Approved applications shall not be transferred without the written consent of the Commissioner.

8)  Approved use of any zone may be revoked at any time by the Commissioner upon the failure of the user to comply with the terms of the regulation.

9)  All structures which are not maintained in good repair shall be completely removed within five business days after written notification by the Commissioner.

10) The public shall not be excluded from any space not physically occupied by the authorized aquaculture cages.

11) Cages shall be constructed of non-toxic material and no single cage shall exceed 70 cubic feet in volume.

12) Cages may be placed individually on the bottom, placed in racks, or stacked one on top of another.

13) Cages shall be placed in a manner that allows for ease of access, maintenance, and removal and shall not exceed 250 cages per acre within the permitted area.

14) No cage or structure shall be marked by more than one buoy, which shall not exceed 15 inches in its longest dimension.

15) Floating cages are not permitted.

B)  4VAC20-720-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest".

The Commission proposes to lower the daily catch limit in Rotation Area 4 of the Rappahannock River, from ten bushels to six bushels per person.  The open season for Area 4, in 2011, is February 1 through February 28 and it is restricted to hand scrapes. 

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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 BETTY WARREN (757-247-2248) NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.



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