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Public Notice: Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass 2002

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) invites public comment on proposed amendments, shown below, to the following regulations: Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., Regulation 4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., Regulation 4 VAC 20-754-10 et seq., and Regulation 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq. 

In accordance with 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on these proposals will be held at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, November 26, 2002 at the office of the Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, 4th Floor, Newport News, Virginia. Any interested person may offer testimony. For additional information, or to submit written comments, please contact Jack Travelstead, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia, 23607, prior to 12:00 noon on Monday, November 25, 2002.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT:

Regulation 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq. "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass"

Proposed Amendments:

The Commission has established separate commercial striped bass harvest quotas for the Coastal Area (ocean water to the 3-Mile Limit Line and coastal bays and inlets) and Chesapeake System (Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and the Potomac River Tributaries of Virginia). This action was in response to an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) mandate to establish a 98,000-pound quota for Virginia's Coastal Area Commercial striped bass fishery. The proposed amendments to the regulation establish a Coastal Area striped bass harvest quota of 98,000 pounds and provide for an allocation system to establish individual shares of the 98,000-pound quota, based on the following four options: 

1) Allocate the 98,000-pound Coastal Area quota among current Chesapeake System Striped Bass ITQ holders (523 as of February 1, 2002), such that each ITQ holder would receive approximately 12 additional tags. 

2) Allocate the 98,000-pound Coastal Area quota only among recent Coastal Area harvesters. There were 177 fishermen who harvested from the Coastal Area during either 2001 or 2002. This option would provide roughly 34 tags to each of the 177 current Chesapeake System Striped Bass ITQ holders.

3) Allocate the 98,000-pound Coastal Area quota only among Coastal Area harvesters who have a history of harvesting from the Coastal Area during any three years from 1993 through 1997. Under this option, 22 current Chesapeake System Striped Bass ITQ holders would receive 278 tags each for harvesting Coastal Area striped bass.

4) Allocate the 98,000-pound Coastal Area quota only among recent (2001-2002) Coastal Area harvesters who also have a history of harvesting striped bass from the Coastal Area during any 3 years from 1993-1997. This option provides 340 tags to each of 18 eligible current Chesapeake System Striped Bass ITQ holders.

Each of the above options further requires that at least an equal share of the 2003 Chesapeake System commercial striped bass tags be forfeited by current Chesapeake System ITQ holders, to be eligible to receive a share of the initial, 2003 Coastal Area quota of 98,000 pounds.

The Commission also proposes to establish a cap of two times the initial individual share of Coastal Area quota that may be held by any registered commercial fisherman at any time.

The purpose of the proposed amendments is to promote efficient utilization of the newly established Coastal Area commercial striped bass quota, in accordance with the provisions established under the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.

Regulation 4 VAC 720-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest"

Proposed Amendment:

The Commission proposes to amend the regulation by adding the language below. The purpose of the amendment is to improve the reporting of oyster harvests from Virginia's public grounds.

"Failure to report to the Marine Resources Commission all oysters harvested on a daily basis or failure to pay the required oyster taxes shall result in the forfeiture of all oysters harvested and the revocation of the gear license for the remainder of the harvesting season."

Regulation 4 VAC 20-754-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Importation of Fish, Shellfish, or Crustacea"

Proposed Amendment:

The Commission adopted an emergency regulation, effective October 27, 2002, which sets forth the requirements for the importation of particular hard clam seed from South Carolina and Florida. The Commission proposes to make these requirements, listed below, permanent amendments to the regulation.

1) The South Carolina or Florida facility shall certify that only northern broodstock clams of the genus Mercenaria, absent of shellfish pathogens, were used to produce hard clam seed that is to be exported to Virginia. The certification shall be accompanied by evidence that the facility took possession of the northern broodstock hard clams within the previous 12 months.

2) The South Carolina or Florida facility shall certify that the clam seed to be imported to Virginia was produced from northern broodstock and is absent from any known shellfish pathogens.

3) The South Carolina or Florida facility shall certify that only hard clams of northern broodstock were held in the facility used for spawning purposes, throughout the time period corresponding to all shipments of clam seed to Virginia.

4) Each bag or container of clam seed shipped to Virginia from a South Carolina or Florida facility shall be labeled with the name and address of the facility and the quantity of clams contained in each bag or container.

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

Proposed Amendments:

The Commission proposes several amendments to the regulation listed above, as options for the management of the black sea bass fishery in 2003 and 2004. The measures under consideration include the following:

1) Modification of the open access fishery to a limited entry fishery, wherein a Virginia Black Sea Bass Permit is required and available only to fishermen meeting specified criteria.

2) Criteria for entry to the fishery may include measures of historical participation in the fishery, minimum harvest requirements of at least one pound, 2500 pounds, 5000 pounds, or 11,000 pounds of black sea bass from 1997 through 2001; a minimum of two years of harvesting activity over the same time period; a minimum level of harvest value over the time period, 1997-2001. The Commission will also consider alternative time periods during which historical participation will be required to be elible for entry to the fishery.

3) Establishment of Individual Fishery Quotas (IFQ's) for each vessel permitted in the fishery. IFQ's will be distributed based upon each vessel's share of the landings of black sea bass compared to total Virginia landings of black sea bass from 1997 through 2001. The Commission may also consider distribution of shares based upon the ex-vessel value of black sea bass harvests and alternative time periods.

4) Prohibition of the transfer of quota shares from one fishery quota holder to another. 

5) Establishment of a cap on the shares a permittee may hold to ensure that no person acquires an excessive share of the fishery quota.

6) Establishment of a by-catch quota and daily or weekly trip limits for those persons not permitted under the IFQ program.

7) Consideration of the use of both dealer based reports and vessel trip reports from the National Marine Fisheries Service in the formulation of historical participation measures and IFQ shares.

8) Establishment of Quota monitoring provisions requiring record keeping and daily reporting to the Commission by permitted vessels and dealers who harvest or purchase black sea bass.

9) Modifications of the current quarterly quota and weekly trip limit program, to include quota periods other than quarterly; smaller or larger daily or weekly trip limits; and, pre-established triggers to raise and lower trip limits.

10) Prohibition of the transfer of black sea bass at sea.

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VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES. IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION 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 NEED.

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