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Publice Notice: Pertaining to Recreational Gear Licenses

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

In accordance with §28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held at 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, July 26, 2005 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, by 5:00 p.m., Monday, July 25, 2005. Copies of the proposed amendments may be reviewed at the Commission Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A copy of this Notice may also be obtained by calling the Commission at (757) 247-2248.

1). Two amendments to Regulation 4 VAC 20-670-10 et al., "Pertaining to Recreational Gear Licenses," are proposed. The first amendment would exempt recreational fish cast nets and fish dip nets from the prohibition against using these gear types to catch and possess any species of fish whose commercial fishery is regulated by an annual harvest quota, as described in Section 30 of this regulation. The second amendment would allow those individuals who purchase a saltwater license and use a recreational fish dip net, recreational fish cast net or up to two recreational eel pots to be exempt from the reporting requirements listed in Section 50 of this regulation.

2). The proposed amendment to Regulation 4 VAC 20-80-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Setting of Fishing Devices Proximate to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel," would establish that it shall be unlawful for any person to set, place, or fish any fish pot or eel pot of any type in an area extending 250 yards from either span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. For purposes of this section, the distance shall be measured from the outer edges of each span, and shall apply anywhere along the bridge-tunnel and its causeways.

3). On June 28, 2005 the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), an amendment to Regulation 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing," that would allow any licensed crab pot or peeler pot fishermen granted a medical exception to the standard 8-hour daily time limit and prescribed an alternate 8-hour time limit, by the Commissioner or his designee, to use another licensed crab pot or peeler pot fisherman as a mate, provided; however, during the designated alternate work hours, only the crab pots or peeler pots of the fisherman receiving the exception shall be fished. Further, it shall be unlawful for the licensed crab fisherman, who has been granted an exception, or his mate, who is a licensed crab pot or peeler pot fisherman, to fish, set, retrieve, or bait, during the alternate work hours, any crab pot or peeler pot that is not owned and licensed by the fisherman granted the exception. The Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., at its July 26, 2005 meeting.

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NOTICE

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on a proposed regulation to increase fees for permits and licenses required for commercial and recreational fishing in Virginia tidal waters.

In accordance with §28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, public hearings on the proposed fee increases will be held at the following locations:

1. Quality Suites at The Lake Wright, 6280 Northampton Boulevard, Norfolk, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 14, 2005,
2. Rappahannock Community College, Glenns Campus at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 18, 2005,
3. Rappahannock Community College, Workforce Center, Warsaw Campus at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20, 2005,
4. Eastern Shore Community College, Melfa, at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 25, 2005 and;
5. Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor, Newport News, Tuesday, July 26, 2005 at 12:00 noon.

Written comments on the proposed fee increases 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, July 25, 2005. A complete copy of the proposed permit and license fees may be reviewed at the Commission, Monday through Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or may be obtained by calling the Commission at (757) 247-2248.

Section 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia authorizes the Commission to increase fees for tidal fisheries licenses and permits not more frequently than every three years. It further stipulates that any fee increase be capped at $5.00 or a percentage equal to the increase in the Consumer Price Index calculated from the time the fee was last set or adjusted, whichever is greater. Amounts generated from increases in commercial fishing licenses and permits shall be paid into the Marine Fishing Improvement Fund and shall be used solely for 1) managing and improving marine fisheries, 2) seafood product promotion and development services, 3) mandatory reporting and stock assessment, 4) conservation and management strategies identified by the General Assembly and the Commission, 5) education of commercial fishermen, 6) public information pamphlets and summaries of rules issued with gear licenses, and 7)retaining commercial fishermen to engage in replenishment, research, and stock assessment activities. Amounts generated from increases in recreational fishing licenses and permits shall be paid into the Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund and shall be used solely for the purposes of conserving and enhancing finfish species taken by recreational anglers, enforcing certain licensing provisions, improving recreational fishing opportunities, administering the Virginia Saltwater Sport Fishing Tournament certificates program, obtaining necessary data and conducting research for fisheries management, and creating and restoring habitat for species taken by recreational fishermen.

In its consideration of raising permit and license fees, the Commission will review all public comment including specific proposals submitted by individuals or organizations. Additionally, the Commission will consider raising all fees to the maximum allowed by law and will further consider the recommendations of a specially appointed ad hoc panel, which met in May 2005.

A complete listing of the maximum fee increases allowed and the adhoc panel's recommendations is available and can be downloaded as a MS Excel spreadsheet or by calling VMRC at (757) 247-2248.

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

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