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CHAPTER: PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS

VIRGINIA MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION
"PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"
 CHAPTER 4 VAC 20-950-10 ET. SEQ.
 


PREAMBLE

This chapter establishes minimum size limits, gear restrictions, and quotas for the harvest of black sea bass.  This chapter is promulgated pursuant to the authority contained in 28.2-201 and 28.2-204.1 of the Code of Virginia. This chapter amends and re-adopts, as amended, Chapter 4VAC20-950-10 which was promulgated November 25, 2008 and made effective January 1, 2009.  The effective date of this chapter, as amended, is April 1, 2009.

4VAC20-950-10. Purpose. 

The purposes of this chapter are to (i) reduce fishing mortality in the black sea bass fishery to ensure that overfishing does not occur, (ii) increase the spawning stock biomass, (iii) improve the yield from the fishery, and (iv) distribute shares of the black sea bass quota to those fishermen who demonstrate a previous history of participation in the fishery.

4VAC20-950-20. Definitions. 

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

"Black sea bass" means any fish of the species Centropristis striata.

4VAC20-950-30. Minimum size limit. 

A.  The minimum size for black sea bass harvested by commercial fishing gear shall be 11 inches, total length.

B.  The minimum size of black sea bass harvested by recreational gear, including but not limited to hook and line, rod and reel, spear and gig, shall be 12 1/2 inches, total length.

C.  It shall be unlawful for any person to possess any black sea bass smaller than the minimum size limit, as designated respectively, in subsections A and B of this section.

D.  It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, trade, or barter, or offer to sell, trade, or barter any black sea bass less than 11 inches, total length.

E.  Total length shall be measured along the lateral midline from tip of nose to tip of tail excluding the caudal fin filament.

4VAC20-950-40. Gear restrictions. 

It shall be unlawful for any person to place, set, or fish any fish pot in Virginia tidal waters for the purposes of harvesting black sea bass or to possess or to land in Virginia black sea bass harvested by fish pots which are not constructed as follows:

1.  With two escape vents of 2-1/2 inches diameter circular dimension, or 2 inches square dimension, or 1-3/8 inches by 5-3/4 inches rectangular dimension.

2.  With hinges or fasteners on one side panel or door made of the following materials:

      a. Untreated hemp, jute, or cotton string of 3/16 inches or less diameter;

      b. Magnesium alloy, timed float releases (pop-up devices), or similar magnesium alloy fasteners; or

      c. Ungalvanized or uncoated iron wire of 0.094 inches or less in diameter.

4VAC20-950-45. Recreational possession limits and seasons. 

A.  It shall be unlawful for any person fishing with hook and line, rod and reel, spear, gig or other recreational gear to possess more than 25 black sea bass. When fishing is from a boat or vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit shall be for that boat or vessel and shall be equal to the number of persons on board legally eligible to fish, multiplied by 25.  The captain or operator of the boat or vessel shall be responsible for that boat or vessel possession limit. Any black sea bass taken after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.

B.  Possession of any quantity of black sea bass that exceeds the possession limit described in subsection A of this section shall be presumed to be for commercial purposes.

C.  The open recreational fishing season shall be year-round.

4VAC20-950-46. Directed fishery and bycatch fishery permits. 

A.  It shall be unlawful for any person to participate in the commercial black sea bass fishery, or to possess, harvest, or sell black sea bass, without first qualifying for and obtaining either a directed fishery permit or a bycatch fishery permit from the commission, as described, respectively, in subsections B and C of this section, unless that person meets the requirements described in 4VAC20-950-48.2. 

B.  A person shall be considered eligible for a directed commercial black sea bass fishery permit by satisfying all of the following eligibility criteria: 

     1. That person shall hold either a Commercial Fisherman Registration License or a Seafood Landing License, in addition to a federal Black Sea Bass Moratorium Permit; and 

     2. That person shall have landed and sold in Virginia at least 10,000 pounds of black sea bass from July 1, 1997 through December 31, 2001. 

C.  A person shall be considered eligible for a bycatch commercial black sea bass fishery permit by satisfying all of the following eligibility criteria: 

     1. That person shall hold either a Commercial Fisherman Registration License or a Seafood Landing License, in addition to a federal Black Sea Bass Moratorium Permit; and 

     2. That person shall have landed and sold in Virginia at least one pound of black sea bass from July 1, 1997 through December 31, 2001. 

4VAC20-950-47. Commercial harvest quotas. 

A.  The 2009 commercial black sea bass directed fishery quota is 168,638 pounds. When it has been announced that the directed fishery quota has been projected as reached and the directed fishery has been closed, it shall be unlawful for any directed commercial black sea bass fishery permittee to possess aboard any vessel or land in Virginia any black sea bass.

B.  The 2009 commercial black sea bass bycatch fishery quota is 40,000 pounds, from January 1 through April 30. From May 1 through December 31, 2009, the commercial black sea bass bycatch fishery quota is the lesser of 10,000 pounds or the remaining amount of black sea bass bycatch fishery quota, as of May 1, 2009. When it has been announced that the bycatch fishery quota has been projected as reached and the bycatch fishery has been closed, it shall be unlawful for any bycatch commercial black sea bass fishery permittee to possess aboard any vessel or land in Virginia any black sea bass. In the event the bycatch fishery quota is exceeded, the amount the quota overage shall be deducted from the following year's bycatch fishing quota.

4VAC20-950-48. Individual fishery quotas; bycatch limit; at sea harvesters; exceptions. 

A.  Each person possessing a directed fishery permit shall be assigned an individual fishery quota, in pounds, for each calendar year. Except as provided in subsection F of this section, a person's individual fishery quota shall be equal to that person's percentage of the total landings of black sea bass in Virginia from July 1, 1997, through December 31, 2001, multiplied by the directed commercial fishery black sea bass quota for the calendar year. Any directed fishery permittee shall be limited to landings in the amount of his individual fishery quota, in pounds, in any calendar year and it shall be unlawful for any permittee to exceed his individual fishery quota.  In addition to the penalties prescribed by law, any overages of an individual's fishery quota shall be deducted from that permittee's individual fishery quota for the following year.

B.  In the determination of a person's percentage of total landings, the commission shall use the greater amount of landings from either the National Marine Fisheries Service Dealer Weigh-out Reports or National Marine Fisheries Service Vessel Trip Reports that have been reported and filed as of November 26, 2002. If a person's percentage of the total landings of black sea bass is determined by using the Vessel Trip Reports as the greater amount, then the person shall provide documentation to the Marine Resources Commission to verify the Vessel Trip Reports as accurate. This documentation may include dealer receipts of sales or other pertinent documentation, and such documentation shall be submitted to the commission by December 1, 2004. In the event the commission is not able to verify the full amount of the person's Vessel Trip Reports for the qualifying period, the commission shall use the greater amount of landings, from either the Dealer Weigh-Out Reports or the verified portion of the Vessel Trip Reports to establish that person's share of the quota.

C.  It shall be unlawful for any person permitted for the bycatch fishery to possess aboard a vessel, or to land in Virginia, in any one day, more than 200 pounds of black sea bass, except that any person permitted in the bycatch fishery may possess aboard a vessel, or land in Virginia, more than 200 pounds of black sea bass, in any one day, provided the total weight of black sea bass on board the vessel does not exceed 10%, by weight, of the total weight of summer flounder, scup, Loligo squid and Atlantic mackerel on board the vessel. When it is projected and announced that 75% of the bycatch fishery quota has been be taken, it shall be unlawful for any person permitted for the bycatch fishery to possess aboard a vessel, or to land in Virginia, more than 100 pounds of black sea bass. 

D.  It shall be unlawful for any person to transfer black sea bass from one vessel to another while at sea.

E.  The commission sets aside 10,000 pounds of the annual commercial fishery black sea bass quota for distribution to all qualified applicants granted an exception by the commission from the requirements of 4VAC20-950-46 B based upon medical conditions, or other hardship, which limited the applicant's ability to fish for black sea bass during the qualifying period.  In granting an exception, the commission will give preference to those applicants who can demonstrate the greater levels of participation in the black sea  bass fishery during and after the qualifying period or document an apprenticeship or helper status in the black sea bass fishery. Any applicant who is granted an exception by the commission shall receive a portion of the 10,000 pounds; however, no portion shall exceed the lowest individual fishery quota, in pounds, at the beginning of the season. There shall be no transfer of quota received by applicants to the exception process for a period of five years after receipt of that quota. Any portion of the 10,000 pounds not allotted by the commission to the qualified applicants as of November 1 shall be added to the annual bycatch quota described in 4VAC20-950-47 B.

F.  An individual fishery quota, as described in subsection A of this section, shall be equal to an individual's current percentage share of the directed fishery quota, as described in subsection 4VAC20-950-47 A. As of May 1, 2009, should the remaining amount of black sea bass bycatch fishery quota exceed 10,000 pounds, that excess quota shall be allocated to commercial black sea bass directed fishery permit holders who have landed at least 500 pounds of black sea bass in at least 2 of 3 years, starting in 2005 and ending in 2007.  The basis for that allocation shall be the same as used to determine an individual directed fishery quota, as described in subsection A of this section.

 
4VAC20-950-48.1. Individual transferable quotas. 

A. Shares of the directed fishery quota, in pounds, held by any permitted fisherman in the directed fishery may be transferred to another person, and such transfer shall allow the transferee to harvest, possess and land black sea bass in Virginia in a quantity equal to the shares of the directed fishery quota transferred.  Any transfer of black sea bass shall be limited by the following conditions:

     1. Commercial black sea bass shares of the directed fishery quota shall not be transferred in any quantity less than 200 pounds.

     2. No person permitted for the directed fishery may hold more than 20% of the annual directed fishery quota.

     3. No transfer of shares of the black sea bass directed fishery quota shall be authorized unless such transfer is documented on a form provided by the commission and approved by the commissioner.

B. Transfers of all or a portion of person's share of the directed fishery quota may be permanent or temporary. Transferred quota shall only be used by the transferee for black sea bass landed in Virginia. Permanent transfers of shares of directed fishery quota shall grant to the transferee that transferred share of the quota for future years, and the transferor loses that same transferred share of the directed fishery quota in future years. Temporary transfers of shares of the directed fishery quota shall allow the transferee to harvest that transferred share of the directed fishery quota during the year in which the transfer is approved. Thereafter, any transferred share of the directed fishery quota reverts back to the transferor.

4VAC20-950-48.2. Alternate vessel authorization requirements. 

A. Any person possessing a directed fishery permit may authorize an alternate vessel to harvest, possess and land any portion of his individual fishery quota, provided the following conditions are met: 

     1. The directed fishery permit holder has submitted a completed and notarized alternate vessel authorization form to the commission.

     2. The alternate vessel named on the authorization form holds a federal Black Sea Bass Moratorium Permit and either a Virginia Seafood Landing License or the alternate vessel's owner and operator holds a Commercial Fisherman Registration License.

     3. The alternate vessel authorization has been accepted and approved by the commissioner.

      4. The alternate vessel maintains copies of the alternate vessel authorization form and the permit of the directed fishery quota owner at all times while serving as the alternate vessel.

B. No authorization for an alternate vessel to land black sea bass shall extend for more than 60 days from the date the commissioner approves the authorization. After 60 days, any unused portion of quota authorized for the alternate vessel shall revert to its directed fishery permit holder.

4VAC20-950-49. Reporting requirements. 

A. It shall be unlawful for any person permitted for the directed fishery, the bycatch fishery, or for an authorized alternate landing to fail to contact, within one hour of landing, the Marine Resources Commission's Law Enforcement Operations Division to report his name and the name of the vessel, his permit number, the location where catch will be offloaded, and the estimated weight of the landing of black sea bass.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person permitted for the directed fishery, the bycatch fishery, or for an authorized alternate landing to fail to contact, within 24 hours of landing, the Marine Resources Commission's Interactive Voice Recording System to report the name of the permit holder and the name of the vessel that landed the black sea bass, date of landing, the permit number and the weight of black sea bass landed.

C. Any buyer of black sea bass from a directed fishery permittee, a bycatch fishery permittee, or an authorized alternate landing vessel shall maintain records of all purchases for the current year and prior year and make those records available to the Marine Resources Commission upon request.

4VAC20-950-50. Penalty. 

As set forth in 28.2-903 of the Code of Virginia, any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this chapter committed by the same person within 12 months of a prior violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

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