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Publice Notice: Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest and Various Regs 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, March 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, March 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. Request for Permit to Establish Cownose Ray Excluder Fences in the Great Wicomico River:

The Fisheries Management Division is requesting permission to construct exclusion fences around three oyster reefs in the Great Wicomico River, as part of a joint project with the Army Corp of Engineers, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. These fences would be constructed similar to a pound net hedging. Poles would be driven into the bottom approximately 15 feet apart and 8" netting stretched between the poles. A one-acre enclosure is requested for Public Ground Number 13, a 0.6-acre enclosure for Public Ground Number 14, and a 2.2-acre enclosure for Public Ground Number 21. Cultchless oysters would be placed within these enclosures, which would be maintained between May and October.

II. Request for Permit, by Virginia Seafood Council, to Continue Experiments with Triploid Crassostrea ariakensis oysters:

The Virginia Seafood Council requests permission to deploy one million triploid Crassostrea ariakensis oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore in Spring 2005. The purpose of the project is to determine the feasibility of culturing the oysters to market size in one year. A termination date of June 1, 2006 is proposed.

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

On February 22, 2005, the Marine Resources Commission adopted, under its emergency regulatory authority (Section 28.2-210 of The Code of Virginia), an amendment to this regulation that shall terminate on March 10, 2005:

The current end date of the open season for harvesting oysters (February 28), using a standard oyster dredge, from the following areas of the Pocomoke and Tangier Sounds Management Area: in Tangier Sound, from Tangier Light north to the Maryland-Virginia line (Red Buoy #6) and in Pocomoke Sound, northeast from a line from Beach Island Light to the house on the Great Fox Island, excluding the Tangier Sound Hand Tong Areas shall be extended through March 9 and provides an additional 7 harvest days.

IV. Regulation 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Black Sea Bass"

The Commission invites public comment on a change to recreational fishing season. The proposed regulation would establish a year-round season and eliminate closed periods of September 8 through September 21 and the month of December.

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