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Publice Notice: Pertaining to Summer Flounder 2005

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, February 22, 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, February 21, 2005. 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.

I. Regulation 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Summer Flounder"

Four management options are proposed for the 2005 Virginia summer flounder recreational fishery:

1) 16 1/2-inch minimum size limit; 8 fish possession limit; January 1-March 28 closed season.

2) 16 1/2-inch minimum size limit; 6-fish possession limit; no closed season.

3) 16-inch minimum size limit, 4 fish possession limit, and closed periods of January 1 through
March 28 and July 11 through July 17.

4) 16" minimum size limit, 3 fish possession limit, and closed periods of January 1 through
March 28 and July 11.

II. Regulation 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Summer Flounder"

A proposed amendment to this regulation would provide that only vessels which have entered Virginia waters, from outside of Virginia waters, for safe harbor may possess summer flounder, in excess of the possession limit. Another proposed amendment establishes that any boat or vessel which has entered Virginia waters for safe harbor shall only offload Summer Flounder when the state that licenses that vessel requests to transfer quota to Virginia, in the amount that corresponds to that vessel's possession limit, and the Commissioner agrees to accept that transfer of quota. Only when these conditions are met would any purchases or acceptance of any summer flounder, by Virginia buyers, from boats or vessels that have secured safe harbor, be lawful.

III. Regulation 4 VAC 20-720-10, Et. Seq., "Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest"

On January 25, 2005, the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), amendments to this regulation that are proposed for adoption as permanent parts of the regulation:

1) The boundaries of the James River Hand Scrape Area were modified to include a Nansemond River boundary, as follows: "James River Hand Scrape Area" means those public oyster grounds of the James River west of the Monitor and Merrimac Bridge Tunnel and northeast of the Mills E. Godwin/Nansemond River Bridge (Route 17) to the James River Bridge (Route 17).

2) The requirement for the teeth of a standard oyster dredge to have a minimum between-teeth spacing of 3 inches was eliminated.

3) The Public Oyster Harvest Season was extended in the following areas: The Rappahannock River Hand Scrape Area; The Rappahannock River Drumming Ground Hand Scrape Area; The Rappahannock River Temples Bay Hand Scrape Area: October 15, 2004 through January 15, 2005 and February 1, 2005 through March 31, 2005. Thomas Rock Hand Scrape Area: December 1, 2004 through March 31, 2005.

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