The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the following proposed regulations, described below.
The proposed draft regulations may be viewed at the Commission offices or on the Commission website at the following address:
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, or as soon thereafter as the progress of the meeting permits, on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Written 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 October 21, 2013.
I. Public Hearing: Blue Crab Fishery Management Measures for 2013-14:
The Commission proposes to establish the lawful 2014 crab pot and peeler pot commercial harvest seasons as March 17 through November 30, 2014, for male crabs, and March 17 through November 20, 2014, for female crabs.
The Commission will consider whether to close the 2013-14 crab dredge fishery season in its entirety, as this action is required by Section 28.2-707 of the Code of Virginia. The Commission also will consider the following regulations specified below, for establishment of a 2013-14 or future crab dredge fishery seasons:
a) Hard sand areas that have been shown to increase damage to crabs,
b) The historical (1942) lower bay sanctuary area as described in 28.2-704
3) Establishment of either individual harvest quotas or daily vessel bushel limits and the establishment of a maximum 1.5 million-pound harvest quota for all participating dredge vessels that would be compensated with crab pot bushel limits:
a) A vessel quota of 1,000 bushels per participant
b) Daily vessel bushel limits from 30 to 45 bushels of crabs per day
4) Establish by-catch prohibitions on other species than blue crab (e.g. horseshoe crabs, conch):
a) Allow some by-catch of conch (this would be primarily knobbed whelk)
b) Prohibit by-catch of horseshoe crabs (unless permitted for harvest under the horseshoe crab quota)
5) Establish a season for the crab dredge fishery that starts no later than January 1 but does not extend beyond the end of February.
6) Establish a daily harvesting time limit for the fishery, to include an offloading time limit.
7) Establish vessel and gear requirements:
a) Place federal or MRC ID numbers on vessel roof, for aerial surveillance and other monitoring.
b) A limit of 2 dredges per vessel
c) A maximum width of 8 feet per dredge
d) Maximum length of dredge teeth as 6 inches
e) Use of metal plates called divers that stabilize the dredge on bottom
8) Establish Licensee Requirements:
a) Hail-in and Hail-out requirements. (Harvesters would call at start and end of dredging day and state the harvest amount)
b) Tagging of bushels (licensee responsible for cost and accounting for tags)
c) Access for observers and sampling of catch and effort data
d) Licensee is required to be on vessel
9) Establish License Restrictions:
a) No license transfers
b) No use of agents by the licensee
c) One licensee per vessel
d) Any violation equals loss of license for remainder of season, minimum.
e) A dredge license fee of $100.00
The Commission will establish fishery management triggers that may be used to increase or decrease the harvest capacity of any gear-based commercial crab fishery.
The Commission will also consider adopting a declaration date for licensees who are eligible to use agents in 2014.
The purpose of these amendments is to establish 2013 and 2014 blue crab management measures that are based upon the best scientific, economic, biological, and sociological information available to ensure sustainability of the blue crab resource.
II. Chapter 4VAC20-260-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Designation of Seed Areas and Clean Cull Areas”.
The Commission, on September 24, 2013, adopted emergency amendments to 4VAC20-260-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Designation of Seed Areas and Clean Cull Areas” to clarify culling tolerances and inspection procedures for oysters taken from public oyster beds, rocks and shoals in Virginia’s tidal waters, as follows:
These emergency amendments are proposed as parts of the final regulation. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to promote conservation of this resource.
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.