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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, June 2014

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed below.  By June 9, 2014, the proposed draft regulations can 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 regulation will be held at 12:00 noon, on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 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 June 23, 2014. 

I.  Chapter 4VAC20-910-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Scup (Porgy)”

The Commission will consider proposals to lower the recreational possession limit for scup from 50 fish per person to 30 fish per person. 

The purpose of this amendment is to comply with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan requirements for this species. 

II.  Chapter 4VAC20-270-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Crabbing”

The Commission will consider proposals to reduce the harvest of female blue crabs, by 10 percent of the 2013 blue crab harvest in pounds.  This percent reduction will be applied as reductions to crab fisheries that occur from July 5, 2014 through July 4, 2015.

The basis of this reduction is to conserve spawning potential of the current spawning-age females and the current cohort of juvenile crabs that represent the 2015 spawning stock.  The overriding concern is the current depleted state of this resource.

Staff proposes the following options to lower the current 2014 bushel limits, constructed in 2013 for this season and beyond, to account for the majority of the total 10 percent reduction in female crab harvest:

1.  Lower the current license category-specific crab pot bushel limits in 2 discrete methods: one set of bushel limits would be established from July 5, 2014 through November 15, 2014, and another, different set of license category-specific crab pot bushel limits would be established from March 17, 2015 through July 4, 2015.  In addition, the harvest of female crabs would be prohibited, from November 16 through November 30, but the harvest of male crabs would continue through November 30.

2.  Lower the current license category-specific crab pot bushel limits, so that they are the same bushel limits from July 5, 2014 through July 4, 2015, and there would be a prohibition on only the harvest of female crabs, from November 16 through November 30, 2014.

3.  Lower the current license category-specific crab pot bushel limits, so that they are the same bushel limits from July 5, 2014 through July 4, 2015, but female and male crab harvest would continue through November 30.  However, license category-specific crab pot bushel limits, from November 16 through November 30, 2014, would be 50% of current license category-specific crab pot bushel limits.

4.  Lower the current license category-specific crab pot bushel limits, so that they are the same bushel limits from July 5, 2014 through July 4, 2015, except that license category-specific crab pot bushel limits would be 50% of current bushel limits from March 17 through March 31, 2015. 

Staff proposes the Commission close the 2014-2015 crab dredge fishery season, in its entirety, in accordance with Section 28.2-707 of the Code of Virginia.

Staff proposes there be no season extension, beyond November 30, 2014, for the crab pot fishery.

Staff proposes that any combination of the options listed above, or any other management options, that can achieve a reduction in harvest that is equivalent to a 10% reduction of the amount of female crabs harvested in 2013, as applied to the 2014 and 2015 blue crab fisheries, can be considered by the Commission, at its June 24, 2014 public hearing.

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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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