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Public Notice: Proposed Amendments to Regulations, December 2007

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the proposed amendments to the regulations listed below.

In accordance with §28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments will be held at 12:00 Noon, on Tuesday, December 18, 2007 (unless noted otherwise), 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, December 17, 2007. Copies of the proposed amendments 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.

Regulation 4VAC20-620-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Summer Flounder"

On November 27, 2007, the Commission adopted Emergency amendments that establish, from the last Monday in October through December 31, commercial harvest possession limits in Virginia. The provisions of the emergency amendment to this regulation are effective on November 28, 2007, and the Commission proposes to make this amendment a permanent part of Regulation 4VAC20-620-10 et seq., at its December 18, 2007 meeting. The amendments are, as follows:

Section 40.F COMMERCIAL VESSEL POSSESSION LIMITATIONS.

It shall be unlawful for any person to possess aboard any vessel, in Virginia, any amount of Summer Flounder in excess of 10% by weight of all other landed species on board the vessel, once it has been projected and announced the quota has been taken and, subsequently, the Commission announces quota is still available.

The Commission also invites public comment on two proposed changes to the summer flounder directed offshore commercial fishery designed to assist the industry during times of rising fuel costs and decreasing quota allotments. The first proposal would remove the April 1 through June 30 quota (6.4%), and add that quota amount to the first quarter's quota (64.3%). This means that 70.7% of the annual quota would be available for the first quarter that extends from the first Monday in January through March 31. The second proposal would change the opening date of the first quarter directed fishery that is currently the fourth Monday in January. Proposed opening dates include, but are not limited to, the last Monday in January or the first Monday in February.

Regulation 4VAC20-252-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"

The Commission proposes to establish the 2008 striped bass quota for the Chesapeake Area, amend requirements and penalties for the possession and tagging of commercially harvested striped bass, and amend the time when a harvester must return all unused tags, as specified by the following five amendments:

1.   A proposed amendment establishes the 2008 striped bass quota for the Chesapeake Area, providing 1,642,242 pounds to the recreational and commercial fisheries, respectively.

2.   A proposed amendment makes it unlawful, for any person aboard any vessel, to possess:

a)  tags issued for previous years, for either the Chesapeake area or the coastal area
b)  Potomac River Fisheries Commission striped bass tags in Virginia waters (excluding the Virginia tributaries of the Potomac River)
c)  Maryland striped bass tags in Virginia waters, or tags from any other jurisdiction in Virginia waters.

Unlawfully possessed striped bass tags would be confiscated and impounded by the Commission and returned to the issuing agency.

3.  A proposed amendment removes the ambiguity about the time when a striped bass should be tagged and provides that striped bass be tagged at the place of capture and before the harvester leaves any place of capture.

4.  A proposed amendment defines the penalties and process for seizure of untagged striped bass and unused tags, if a harvester is found in violation of this regulation.

5.  A proposed amendment establishes the time when a harvester must return all unused tags from the previous commercial season, as within 30 days of harvesting their individual harvest quota, or by the second Thursday in January, whichever comes first.

Regulation 4VAC20-150-10, et seq., "Pertaining to the Dredging of Conchs (also known as Whelks)"

The Commission proposes to correct the names of boundary markers associated with conch dredge areas 2 and 4.

Regulation 4VAC20-320-10, et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Black Drum"

The Commission proposes to allow the use of small mesh (< 5 inches, stretched measure) gill nets in the special Management Area defined by section 50 of this regulation. Currently, it shall be unlawful for any person to place, set or fish gill nets or trotlines, from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., from May 1 - June 7, within this special management area, and the proposed amendment would allow only small mesh gill nets, in this management area during those times. Note: This proposal is scheduled for a January 22, 2008 public hearing.

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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 BRANDY BATTLE (757) 247-2248 NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.

 

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