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Public Notice: Pertaining Blue Crab Management Areas 2002

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on 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, April 23, 2002, 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, Newport News, Va., 23607. 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.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS

I.  Regulation 4 VAC 20-752-10 et seq.,"Pertaining to the Hampton Roads and Bayside Eastern Shore Blue Crab Management Areas"

The Commission proposes to expand the 661 square mile Virginia Bay-wide Blue Crab Spawning Sanctuary by approximately 286 square miles by moving the boundaries of the sanctuary approximately from the 35-foot depth contour to the 30-foot depth contour within the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay and to establish additional sanctuary immediately seaward of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The Sanctuary is closed to commercial and recreational crabbing from June 1 through September 15 to protect female crabs during their migration to their spawning grounds. The Commission also proposes to establish additional shallow water sanctuary areas which connect the Virginia Bay-wide Blue Crab Spawning Sanctuary with critical blue crab habitat that includes areas of submerged aquatic vegetation. The borders of these additional sanctuaries may extend from the edges of the deep water bay-wide sanctuaries to the shoreline in certain areas. 

II.  Regulation 4 VAC 20-300-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Catch Limits"

The Commission proposes to prohibit the taking, harvesting, possessing aboard any vessel, and the landing of female sponge crabs by any person during the third week of July. The Commission also proposes to establish an 8 bushel daily catch limit of female sponge crabs during July as an alternative to the one-week ban on possession of female sponge crabs. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to increase the probability of spawning success of the blue crab.

III.  Regulation 4 VAC 20-430-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Marking and Minimum Mesh Size of Gill Nets."

The Commission proposes to allow the use of gill nets with a minimum mesh size as small as 2 inches in the upper reaches of the James, Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and Rappahannock Rivers for the purpose of harvesting river herring only. The purpose of the proposed regulation is to minimize the by-catch of striped bass in the river herring fishery.

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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 DEBORAH CAWTHON (757) 247-2248 NO LESS THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING TIME AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.

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