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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, August 2013

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, August 27, 2013, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.  Written comments on the proposals should be mailed to Robert L. O’Reilly, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 5:00 p.m., Monday, August 26, 2013.  Copies of the proposed regulations 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., and may be obtained by calling the Commission at (757) 247-2248.

I.  Chapter 4VAC20-720-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest”

A.  The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4VAC20-720-10 et seq. to establish area-specific public oyster harvest seasons, from October 1, 2013 through April 30, 2014, from public oyster grounds and unassigned grounds, as follows: 

1)  James River Seed Area, including the Deep Water Shoal State Replenishment Seed Area: October 1, 2013, through April 30, 2014.

2)  James River Hand Scrape Area and the Thomas Rock Hand Scrape Area (James River): November 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.

3)  York River Hand Scrape Area 2: January 1, 2014 through February 28, 2014.

4)  Milford Haven: December 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.

5)  Deep Rock Patent Tong Area: December 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.

6)  Rappahannock River Rotation Area 2: November 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

7)  Rappahannock River Rotation Area 4: October 1, 2013 through November 30, 2013.

8)  Rappahannock River Area 7: December 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.

9)  Rappahannock River Area 8: December 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.

10)  Rappahannock River Area 9: November 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

11)  Great Wicomico River Hand Scrape Area: December 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.

12)  Upper Chesapeake Bay, Blackberry Hangs Hand Scrape Area: December 1, 2013 through January 31, 2014.

13)  Little Wicomico River: October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

14)  Coan River: October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

15)  Yeocomico River: October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

16)  Nomini River: October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.

17)  Tangier-Pocomoke Sounds Rotation Area 1: December 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.

18)  Seaside of Eastern Shore: (For clean cull oysters only) November 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014.

The purpose of the amendments is to manage the Virginia public oyster resource for sustainable harvest.

B)  The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4VAC20-720-10 et seq. to require oyster resource user fees for any harvester of oysters from public grounds, as established by Sections 28.2-228 and 28.2-541 of the Code of Virginia.  The purpose of the oyster resource user fees is to provide for an enhanced source of revenue for oyster replenishment in place of the oyster tax system that expired July 1, 2013.

C)  The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4VAC20-720-10 et seq. to redefine the boundaries of Rappahannock River Rotation Area 4 to exclude Middle Ground Rock, an oyster bar in the Corrotoman River.  The purpose of this amendment is to comply with the 2013 Oyster Replenish Plan that sets aside Middle Ground Rock for industry to use as a seed harvest area.

II.   Chapter 4VAC20-260-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the designation of Seed Areas and Clean Cull Areas.

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4VAC20-260-10 et seq. to allow commercial oyster harvesters to cull oysters into baskets or continue the practice of culling oysters into the inside, open part of the boat in a loose pile, but only one culling method shall be used in any one harvest day.  Basket containers would be inspected, at random, by Marine Police officers, all oysters on the vessel would be subject to disposal overboard, for any culling violation.  The purpose of this amendment is to provide harvesters the ability to better distribute their load on vessels and to provide less restrictive offloading methods.

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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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