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Publice Notice: Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass 2005

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on proposed amendments to regulations and the request of the Virginia Seafood Council, listed below.

In accordance with §28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments and the request of the Virginia Seafood Council will be held at 12:00 Noon on Tuesday, October 25, 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, October 24, 2005.  Copies of the proposed amendments and request of the Virginia Seafood Council 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.

I.    Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"

a) The Commission proposes changes to the commercial striped bass tagging program requiring the use of two separate tags, each, for the Chesapeake Bay Area and the Coastal Area fisheries.  For the Chesapeake Area, one type of tag will be used only for striped bass 18-28 inches in total length, and a second type of tag will be used for any striped bass greater than or equal to 18 inches in total length.  Similar tagging is proposed for the Coastal Area fishery where the size intervals for separate tags are 28-34 inches and greater than or equal to 28 inches.  The purposes of the proposal are to reduce the harvest of large striped bass, to reduce the average sizes of striped bass in the two fisheries, and to stabilize the number of tags in the quotas for each fishery.

b) The Commission proposes to add requirements to improve compliance with the commercial striped bass tagging program, including:  a prohibition on possession of Chesapeake Area tags in the Coastal Area; issuance of one tag type at a time to fishermen eligible for both Chesapeake Area and Coastal Area tags; repeal of all Coastal Area transit permits; and, a requirement that vessels fishing for striped bass in the Coastal Area display a flag.

c) The Commission proposes to modify the prohibition on the use of gill nets with a stretched mesh 3 3/4 inches to 6 inches, from January 1 through March 25, in the James River, Back River, Poquoson River, York River, Mobjack Bay, Milford Haven, Piankatank River, and Rappahannock River, to allow the use of gill nets with a stretched mesh of 5 inches to 6 inches, in thesese areas during February.  The purpose of the proposal is to reduce the harvest of large striped bass (>28 inches).

d) The Commission proposes to establish a 7-inch maximum mesh size for all gill nets used in the striped bass Chesapeake Area fishery. The Commission also proposes to establish a maximum mesh size for gill nets used in the Coastal Area striped bass fishery.  The purpose of the proposal is to reduce the harvest of large striped bass (> 28 inches).

e) The Commission proposes to eliminate the temporary transfers of Chesapeake Area and Coastal Area commercial quota shares (tags); provided, the Commissioner, on a case-by-case basis may authorize temporary transfers of tags when conditions such as the health of the fisherman or a call to active military duty necessitate such a transfer.   The purpose of the proposal is to reduce the likelihood that transferred tags will be used to harvest large striped bass.

f) On September 27, 2005 the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), an amendment to the above regulation to allow any person, who is legally eligible to fish, to possess any striped bass tagged with a Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) fluorescent green tag, without that specially-tagged striped bass counting towards the personal recreational possession limit.  Permitted commercial striped bass ITQ holders shall not be required to apply a tamper evident, numbered tag provided by the Commission, in order to possess any striped bass tagged with a VIMS-inscribed green fluorescent tag.  The Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., at its October 25, 2005 meeting.

II. Regulation 4 VAC 20-650-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Establishment of Oyster Management Areas"

On September 27, 2005 the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), an amendment to the above regulation to change the boundaries of the Wreck Shoals - James River Oyster Management Area, effective October 1, 2005.  The new boundaries are described below. The Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-650-10 et seq., at its October 25, 2005 meeting. The Wreck Shoals- James River Oyster Management Area shall consist of all public oyster grounds within the boundaries as defined by:

    Beginning at Corner 1 of Public Ground No.1 - Warwick County (Lat 37( 04.520'N, Lon 76( 33.7333'W- NAD 1983), thence southeasterly to Deep Creek Channel Marker "2" (Lat 37( 03.609'N, Lon 76( 32.102'W), thence south-southwesterly to James River Channel Marker "5" (Lat 37( 02.345'N, Lon 76( 32.769'W), thence southwesterly to the chimney of a beach house east of the Luter airstrip (Lat 37( 01.666'N, Lon 76( 35.136'W), thence northerly to James River Channel Marker "12" (Lat 37( 03.323'N, Lon 76( 35.169'W), thence northeasterly to Corner 190 of  Plat File 16734 (Lat 37( 04.904'N, Lon 76( 34.254'W), thence southeasterly to Corner 1 of Public Ground 1- Warwick County, the point of beginning.

III.    Regulation 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Black Sea Bass"

    On September 27, 2005 the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), an amendment to the above regulation to allow any person possessing a directed fishery permit to authorize an alternate vessel to harvest, possess and land any portion of his individual fishery quota, as long as specific requirements, relative to obtaining this authorization, are met.  Emergency provisions were also established, concerning reporting requirements for those authorized for alternate vessel landings. The Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., at its October 25, 2005 meeting. 

IV. Virginia Seafood Council requests deployment of Crassostrea ariakensis oysters on state-owned bottom.

The Virginia Seafood Council (VSC) requests the Commissioner of Marine Resources to authorize the Commission, under the provisions of Section 28.2-826 of the Code of Virginia, to place 10,000 triploid (sterile) non-native Crassostrea ariakensis oysters, along with 13 bushels of clean oyster shell, in a 20-foot square area on Palaces Bar in the Piankatank River.  Further, the VSC requests the placement of the oysters conform precisely to the provisions stipulated in Section 28.2-826 of the Code of Virginia and that the oysters remain on bottom until they reach the legal marketable size, at which time they be made available for harvest by licensed oyster harvesters.  The VSC intends this project be the first step toward a commercial-scale on-bottom deployment and harvest of Crassostrea ariakensis oysters from Virginia public grounds.

In accordance with Section 28.2-826 G, the Commission will hold a public hearing on this issue, as described above, for the purpose of receiving data, views and argument concerning the placement of ariakensis oysters in state waters.

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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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