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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, November 2012

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposed amendments to regulations listed below. This public Notice re-advertises public hearing issues that were previously advertised for the October 30, 2012 Commission meeting. However, those public hearings were postponed because of Hurricane Sandy.

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 Monday, November 19, 2012, 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., Friday, November 16, 2012. 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.       A) Chapter 4 VAC20-1140-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Prohibition of Crab Dredging in Virginia Waters"

The Commission will consider a Fishery Management Division recommendation to close the December 2012 through March 2013 crab dredge fishery season. The Commission has closed the last four consecutive crab dredge fishery seasons. During this winter 2012-13 period VIMS and VMRC will conduct a study to assess incidental mortality of blue crab associated with this gear type.

B) Chapter 4 VAC20-270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing"

The Commission will consider amendments to this regulation that include: 

a) An extension of the lawful season for the harvest of male and female crabs through December 15, 2012. The current harvest lawful season for male crabs extends through November 30, while the current lawful harvest season for female crabs extends through November 20; 

b) The establishment of a March 1, 2013, start date of the lawful crab harvest season. The current start date for the lawful crab harvest season is March 17; 

c) The establishment of separate bushel limits for each of the crab pot license category pot limit (the up to 85 crab pots through the 425 crab pot limits). This would account for additional harvest associated with a possible extension of the lawful season for the harvest of male and female crabs through December 15, 2012 or for the possible earlier opening of the season on March 1, 2013. Crab pot license category specific crab pot bushel limits could be implemented either during 2012, 2013 or in both years; and,

d) Restriction of commercial crab harvest activities in the Virginia portion of the Albemarle watershed to crab pot and peeler pot gears, or other gear restriction alternatives, to preclude crab-harvesting gear types that may degrade the habitat.

C) Chapter 4 VAC20-752-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Blue Crab Sanctuaries" and Chapter 4VAC20-1210-10 et seq., "Pertaining to a Blue Crab Sanctuary"

The Commission will consider a Fishery Management Division recommendation to merge these two regulations into one, so that there will be a uniform closed season on the taking or harvesting of crabs from the blue crab sanctuaries, for commercial purposes, from May 16 through September 15. There will be no change to the provisions governing the harvest of blue crab, for recreational purposes, from these proposed amendments.

D) Expenditure from the Marine Fishing Improvement Fund

The Commission will consider the FMD proposal to utilize the Marine Fishing Improvement Fund to pay for expenditures for the upcoming December 2012, through March 2013, crab dredge gear study.


II.     Chapter 4VAC20-960-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Tautog"

The Commission proposes to modify the 2013 recreational and commercial tautog fishery management measures. Current recreational tautog regulations for Virginia include a closed season from April 16 through July 31, a four fish possession limit, and a 16-inch minimum size limit. Proposed amendments for the recreational fishery could include adjusting the closed season dates, changing the minimum size limit, or the possession limit, as shown in the options below (these are strictly examples):  

Options

Min Size

Bag

Closed Season

Closed Days

1

16

4

April 20 - July 31

103

2

16

3

May 1 - September 19

142

Current commercial tautog regulations include closed seasons from January 18 through March 15, and May 1 through August 31 and a 15-inch minimum size limit. Proposed amendments for the commercial fishery could include adjusting the closed season dates or changing the minimum size limit, as shown in the options below (these are strictly examples):

Options

Min Size

Closed Season

Closed Days

1

15

January 22 - February 28; May 1 - October 31

222

2

16

February 1 - February 28; May 1- October 31

212


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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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