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Public Notice: Proposed Amendments to Regulations, November 2008


The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposed 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, November 25, 2008, 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, November 24, 2008. Copies of the proposed regulations 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. Fishing Guide License and Limited Access

The Commission proposes, under the authority established by Section 28.2-302.8 of the Code of Virginia, to establish a Fishing Guide License, which shall be required for each charterboat and headboat captain, and to restrict the sale of this license. The fee for the license will be $100.00, and the fee charged for the charterboat license, or headboat license, will be reduced by $100.00, when both licenses are purchased by the same licensee. The Fishing Guide License will be sold only to persons holding a U.S. Coast Guard License, to carry passengers for hire, who meet one of the following three qualifications:

1) held a Virginia charterboat or headboat license from January 1, 2008 through June 24, 2008, or

2) held a Virginia charterboat or headboat license in 2006 and 2007, or

3) can document that he has operated, as captain, a Virginia charterboat or headboat in Virginia waters from January 1, 2006 through June 24, 2008. Acceptable documentation includes: written proof of serving, as that vessel's captain, for 30 days, during this qualifying period and, either: a) a certificate of insurance for a Virginia charterboat or headboat listing the captain as an insured or b) Federal Tax Forms W-2 or 1099 verifying Virginia income as a charterboat or headboat captain.

The following additional provisions are proposed:

A.) The total number, or cap on the number of Fishing Guide License's sold, in any year, shall not exceed the number of individuals meeting at least one of qualifications 1, 2 or 3 listed above.

B.) Separate Fishing Guide Licenses shall be provided to resident and non-resident fishing guides.

C.) Fishing Guide Licenses may be transferred, with Agency approval, temporarily (within year) or permanently, provided resident licenses shall be transferred only to Virginia residents and non-residents licenses shall be transferred only to non-residents.

D.) The Fishing Guide License shall be purchased annually, to maintain the eligibility, of the licensee, for the license, in the following year.

E.) The use of the Fishing Guide License by any person, other than the licensee, is prohibited.

F.) Vacancies in the Fishing Guide License cap may be filled from a waiting list that shall be established on a priority basis, by application, after January 1, 2009.

The purpose of these regulations is to establish similar access to Virginia waters, for non-resident charter vessels, as Maryland provides access to its waters, for Virginia residents; to address the lack of complete reciprocity in the Virginia - Maryland Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Reciprocol Agreement; to address increasing fishery pressure on the striped bass and other fishery resources; and, to improve compliance with the striped bass sanctuary in federal waters.

The Commission will consider variations in these proposals, including, but not limited to, changes in the qualifying dates and criteria.


II. CHAPTER 4VAC 20-950-10 ET SEQ, "PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"

The Marine Resources Commission proposes to amend this regulation as follows.

1) reduce the commercial directed fishery quota to 226,000 pounds, minus any quantity set aside for research by the Natural Marine Fisheries Service, from 405,153 pounds

2) reduce the commercial bycatch fishery quota to 10,000 pounds, from 40,000 pounds.

3) redistribute 30,000 pounds of the bycatch fishery quota to directed fishery permit holders, who harvested at least 500 pounds of black sea bass in at least two years, from 2005 through 2007.

4) reduce the bycatch fishery trip limit to 100 pounds, when 75 percent of the bycatch fishery quota is harvested.

The Commission will also consider variations in these proposals, including, but not limited to, distribution of the 30,000 pounds to all directed fishery permit holders.


III. CHAPTER 4 VAC20-1040-10 ET SEQ, "PERTAINING TO CRABBING LICENSES"


The Commission proposes that persons who were eligible for crab pot or peeler pot licenses, as of January 1, 2008, as well as during the 2004 through 2007 seasons, but who reported no blue crab harvest, at any time, during 2004 through 2007, shall not be permitted to purchase crab fishery licenses in 2009 and beyond. Approximately 527 persons eligible for crab pot and 431 individuals eligible for a peeler pot license, as of January 1, 2008 reported no harvest during the 2004 through 2007 seasons. 

The Commission further proposes that these same individuals be placed on a waiting list to reenter the fishery, after the interim blue crab restoration population target of 200 million, plus 10 percent, of age one-plus (2.4 inches and greater) crabs is reached and attained, for three consecutive years. These same individuals may also reenter the crab fishery, at any time, by purchasing and transferring a license from an active harvester in the crab fishery.

The Commission will also consider a Crab Management Advisory Committee recommendation that a small percentage (5% - 10%) of those individuals, who are placed on the waiting list, could become active at a reduced effort level (low number of crab pots or peeler pots), through an application process, before the interim target is reached and attained for 3 consecutive years.


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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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