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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, August 2014

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed below. By August 11, 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 regulations will be held at 12:00 noon, on Tuesday, August 26, 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 August 25, 2014. 

I. Chapters 4 VAC 20-70-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Harvesting of Clams” and 4VAC 20-1090-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Licensing Requirements and License Fees”

The Commission proposes to amend Chapters 4 VAC 20-70-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Harvesting of Clams,” and 4 VAC 20-1090-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Licensing Requirements and License Fees,” to establish a gear license and limitations for use of hand-held water vacuums, or water rakes, for the harvesting of cultured hard clams on leased ground. The purpose of this amendment is to minimize regulatory burdens.

II. Chapter 4 VAC 20-751-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Setting and Mesh Size of Gill Nets” 

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-751-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Setting and Mesh Size of Gill Nets,” to limit the amount of gill nets, set by any individual harvester, east and north of Chincoteague Inlet. The purpose of this amendment is to promote management that establishes fair and equitable fishing privileges. 

III. Chapter 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Black Sea Bass”

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Black Sea Bass,” to extend the 2014 recreational season, by three days, in September. The purpose of this amendment is in accordance with the variation in management measures established by the interstate fishery management plan for black sea bass.

IV. Chapters 4 VAC 20-260-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Designation of Seed and Clean Cull Areas”; 4 VAC 20-610-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Commercial Fishing and Mandatory Harvest Reporting”; 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest”; and, 4 VAC 20-1230-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Restrictions on Shellfish”

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-260-10 et seq. to require commercial oyster harvesters to cull oysters into the inside, open part of the boat in a loose pile. Only one basket would be allowed on any vessel that is engaged in the harvest of oysters, to measure the lawful daily harvest and possession limit, and all oysters on the vessel would be subject to disposal overboard, for any culling violation. The basket would be defined as a plastic mesh basket of not less than 2,500 cubic inches and not more than 3,000 cubic inches. The purposes of this amendment are to prevent harvesters from circumventing law enforcement inspections and to eliminate the loss of small oysters overboard onto uninhabitable bottom.

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-610-10 et seq. to require individual mandatory harvest reports from any person who harvests oysters from public grounds, for commercial purposes. The purpose of this amendment to improve harvest and effort information for future management measures.

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq. to establish July 1, 2014 as a control date, for management of public oyster fisheries in Virginia. The purpose of this amendment is to be prepared for contingencies in oyster abundance.

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq. to establish area-specific public oyster harvest seasons, from October 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015, for public oyster grounds and unassigned grounds. The purpose of this amendment is to manage the Virginia public oyster resource for sustainable harvest and prevent overfishing.

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq. to reduce the daily harvest time limit and daily vessel harvest limit. The daily harvest time limit would end at 12:00 PM (noon), instead of 2:00 PM. The daily vessel harvest limit would be reduced to 16 bushels per vessel per day, instead of the current 24 bushels per vessel per day. The purpose of these amendments is to mitigate effort increases to promote in-season, area-specific sustainability in harvest. 

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-1230-10 et seq. to establish licensing requirements that mandate that all shellfish harvesters to take a Shellfish Harvest Safety Certification training course, prior to receiving any 2015 shellfish license or permit. The Shellfish Harvest Safety Certification training course shall be completed every two years by any individual licensed for any shellfish harvest from public or leased ground. The purpose of the amendment is to comply with Federal Drug Administration and the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference requirements. 

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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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