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2010 Agency News

Note:  to see public notices for proposed regulatory actions, upcoming meeting dates and past meeting minutes use the Agency Meeting Calendar.

December 2010

December 28, 2010:  Effective 11:59 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Friday, December 31, 2010, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close.  Vessels that have entered Virginia waters and secured to an offloading site prior to 11:59 P.M., EST, Friday, December, 31, 2010 may possess and offload 7,500 pounds of Summer Flounder, minus any previous landings during the landing period.  Additional details can be found in the attached notice. <Notice>

December 21, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted 5-0 to have a stock assessment done prior to a January vote on whether scientific evidence would support adding two weeks to the Lower James River oyster hand scrape season in February.  Oystermen who attended the Commission meeting asked for a three-month season extension.  At the request of the oyster industry, the Commission opened the season in October, a month earlier than usual, to take advantage of favorable prices for oysters. <Post Meeting Summary>

December 20, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission opened online registration today for the new Fisherman Identification Program.  Toll-free, call-in registration will open on Jan. 1, 2011.  Anglers who do not need to buy a license under state law must register for free and supply their contact information before they fish every year.  Anglers who buy a saltwater fishing license will be automatically registered.  Anglers may register online here.  The intent is to create a Virginia-wide “phone book” of saltwater anglers, which will be given to the National Marine Fisheries Service in order to improve fishing effort surveys and to exempt Virginia anglers from having to sign up directly with the National Saltwater Angler Registry and pay the annual $15 federal registration fee.

December 10, 2010:  The Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has planned two workshops for interested Virginia watermen to learn about available grant opportunities.  The workshops are scheduled for 12/16/10, 6PM, at VIMS and 12/15/10, 6PM, at VIMS Eastern Shore Office.  <VIMS Grant Program Information>

November 2010

November 30, 2010:  The National Marine Fisheries Service announced today that the annual fee for registering with the National Saltwater Angler Registry will be $15.00 as of Jan. 1, 2011.  Virginia’s saltwater anglers, however, will not have to pay the fee or sign up with the national registry.  Virginia has been exempted through the efforts of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission with the creation of the free Virginia Fisherman Identification Program, which requires some anglers to register with the state for free. <Press Release>

November 23, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has declined to raise the 14-inch summer flounder size limit for commercial hook and line fishermen, after extensive industry protests.  Also, the Commission agreed to move forward with a plan to create 15 aquaculture opportunities zones, which would provide for a streamlined permitting process and a waiver of many waterbottom lease fees in order to stimulate shellfish farming. <Meeting Summary>

November 22, 2010: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has filed a comprehensive report to the Governor and General Assembly that details the second consecutive successful year of a blue crab stock rebuilding program that, so far, has resulted in a 2010 Bay-wide total crab abundance that has not been seen since 1997, as well as a 35 percent increase in the commercial crab harvest in 2009 compared to 2008. <Blue Crab Management Plan>

November 16, 2010: 
Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Monday, November 29, 2010, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will re-open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. Please see attached notice for further details. <Notice>

October 2010

October 26, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is poised to raise the summer flounder size limits for commercial hook and line fishermen, to match the recreational flounder possession limit, and to set a flounder vessel possession limit of 150-200 pounds.  The Commission authorized a public hearing, and vote, next month on the proposal.  Currently, commercial hook and line license holders may keep substantially smaller flounder than may recreational anglers. <Meeting Summary>

September 2010

September 30, 2010:  Due to excessive rainfall and tidal flooding, an emergency condemnation of select tributaries of the lower James River and Chesapeake Bay has been issued by the State Health Commissioner effective October 1, 2010 through October 6, 2010. <Map and Description of Closed Areas>

September 28, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has approved the creation of a free fisherman identification program that will exempt saltwater anglers from paying $15-$25 a year to register to fish with the federal government under the National Saltwater Angler Registry that is now in effect.  The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program will be in place in January.  It will impact only those adult saltwater anglers who are exempt under Virginia law from having to buy a saltwater fishing license.  If you buy an annual saltwater license, you will not be affected by this program.  As of January, license-exempt saltwater anglers 16 years of age or older will need to register with the VMRC either online or through a toll-free number that will be established to collect their names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.  The FIP is designed, in conjunction with contact information that will be collected from licensed anglers when they buy their licenses, to create a complete phone book of all adults who fish in Virginia's saltwaters.  This will allow all Virginia anglers to be exempt from the National Saltwater Registry and the annual federal registration charge. <Meeting Summary>

September 27, 2010:  Governor Robert F. McDonnell has appointed attorney J. Bryan Plumlee of Virginia Beach to a four-year term on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Mr. Plumlee is the shareholder-in-charge of the Chesapeake offices of the Huff, Poole & Mahoney law firm, and specializes in land use and aviation law.  He served more than six years on the Virginia Beach Wetlands Board.  He replaces Old Dominion University professor John McConaugha of Norfolk. <Biography>

August 2010

August 24, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is poised to enact the Fisherman Identification Program.  When in place in 2011, as required by state law, the program will require all adults who legally fish without a license to call annually and get a free identification number.  In effect, all adults who fish in Virginia's saltwaters must be either licensed or registered for free, as of January.  This state program will collect contact information so Virginia can become exempt from the new National Saltwater Angler Registry now in place, and anglers will not face a federal registration fee of up to $25 each year under that federal initiative.  The Commission is expected to vote on the FIP next month.  More information on the national registry, and how to register, is found on the right hand side of our website home page.  <Meeting Summary>

July 2010

July 28, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission delayed until November any decision on a proposal to drop the recreational striped bass no-take slot limit of 18-28 inches.  At that point, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is expected to decide whether to adjust the striped bass commercial quotas allocated to coastal states, and the Commission then will know whether it is feasible to remove the no-take slot limit.  <Meeting Summary>

June 2010

June 30, 2010:  Commissioner Bowman has promoted long-time Habitat Engineer Tony Watkinson of Toano to the post of Chief of the agency's Habitat Management Division.  Tony succeeds Bob Grabb of Virginia Beach, who retired today after a dedicated, three-decade career at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Tony has been with the agency since 1984 and has been deputy habitat chief since 1988. <Biography>

June 25, 2010:  Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Monday, June 28, 2010, the Virginia Horseshoe Crab fishery will close.  Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and horseshoe crab harvesters, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the 137,168 horseshoe crab quota, by the above date and time.  In addition, effective 10:00 A.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Friday, June 25, 2010, each permitted horseshoe crab buyer shall call the Commission’s interactive voice recording system (1-800-937-9247) on a daily basis to report his name and permit number, date, number of female horseshoe crabs and number of male horseshoe crabs purchased, gear used, and water area fished by the harvester as provided by Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.  <Memorandum>

June 22, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has revoked for two years all state fishing licenses and permits issued to a Fredericksburg commercial fisherman who pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in a striped bass poaching ring.  He is the fifth Virginia waterman since April to have all fishing licenses and permits revoked for striper poaching.  Also, the Commission agreed to consider a loosening of the fall recreational striped bass regulations. <Meeting Summary>

June 15, 2010:   Effective 10:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Wednesday, June 16, 2010, the daily harvest and possession limits for horseshoe crabs will be reduced by 50%, as provided by Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq. <Memorandum>

June 1, 2010:  Commissioner Steve Bowman has approved alternate summer operating hours for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's main office, 2600 Washington Ave., Newport News.  Effective Monday, June 7th, our main office’s hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday.  Friday hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. with closing at 2:30 p.m.  This operating schedule will conclude on Friday, September 3rd.

May 2010

May 25, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has unanimously enacted regulations to continue the third year of its blue crab stock rebuilding program, noting two years of effort has doubled the Chesapeake Bay-wide population, substantially increased annual harvests and nearly doubled the dockside value of those harvests. <Meeting Summary>

April 2010

April 29, 2010:  Commissioner Steven G. Bowman has declared the weekend of June 4-6 to be free fishing days in Virginia's saltwaters.  A recreational saltwater fishing license will not be required, but all size, season and catch limits will remain in force.  So, bring the kids and wet a line.  It's fun for the whole family. <Press Release>

April 28, 2010:  The 2010/11 preliminary regional spiny dogfish quotas, adjusted for overages, are 8,272,448 pounds available to states in the northern region (Maine-Connecticut), 3,661,609 pounds available to states in the southern region (New York-Virginia), and 2,469, 499 pounds available to North Carolina.  The quota is available for harvest between May 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011.  States may set trip limits up to 3,000 lbs for this fishing season.  <Memorandum>

April 27, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources has signaled its willingness to continue a third year of a blue crab stock rebuilding program without relaxing current regulations.  A new scientific study shows crab abundance baywide has doubled in the past two years, with the largest new generation of baby crabs found in many years.  The Commission also revoked all commercial fishing licenses and permits for four watermen who pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally poaching striped bass. <Meeting Summary>

April 23, 2010:  Anglers and boaters should not be alarmed at plumes of reddish-brown water on parts of the James River over the next week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Virginia Health Department are conducting a scientific experiment. Roughly 40 gallons of harmless reddish-brown dye will be released near the mouth of the Warwick River on Sunday, April 25, as part of a study to determine dilution characteristics of wastewater effluent and possible impacts on shellfish. The plume may be visible until the middle of next week. <Press Release>

April 19, 2010:  Commissioner Steven G. Bowman has been reappointed to another four-year term as head of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  He was reappointed by Governor Robert F. McDonnell, who also reappointed Deputy Commissioner Jack Travelstead, who also serves as the Chief of the agency's Fishery Management Division.  Commissioner Bowman was first appointed to his post in 2006, and has an extensive background in law enforcement.  More information on the agency's leadership team can be found in the Agency Overview. <Governor's News Release>

April 19, 2010:  Effective 12:01 A.M. (EST) on Wednesday, April, 21, 2010, the Virginia possession limit for scup will be reduced to 1,000 pounds per trip for the remainder of the 2010 Winter I period (through April 30, 2010) in state waters to avoid quota overages.  The National Marine Fisheries Service has projected that 80 percent of the Winter I period commercial quota for the cup fishery has been harvested.  For more details, please see the enclosed memorandum from the National Marine Fisheries Service. <Memorandum>

April 14, 2010:  Governor Robert F. McDonnell today announced the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population surged for the second year in a row because of a landmark stock-rebuilding program.  A new winter crab dredge population survey estimates the total number of crabs bay-wide at 658 million, a 60 percent increase from last year and the highest since 1997.  Also, the number of juvenile crabs were found to have almost doubled in the past year, an encouraging sign that the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's stock rebuilding efforts are putting the species on the path to sustainability. <Press Release>

April 14, 2010:  Governor Robert F. McDonnell has signed into law the Virginia Fisherman Identification program, which authorizes the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to collect the federally required data necessary to become exempt as a state from new federal saltwater fishing registration requirements, and future registration costs for recreational anglers, under the National Saltwater Angler Registry.  When the new VMRC program is up and running later this year, those who buy Virginia recreational saltwater fishing licenses will be required to furnish their contact information.  Those who fish legally without a license (i.e. those who are exempt from having to buy a Virginia saltwater fishing license) will be required to call and register with the VMRC, provide their contact information, and receive a Virginia fisherman identification number to carry with them while fishing so they have proof, if stopped by law enforcement, that they have registered, as required under the new state law.  All that contact information then will be provided to the federal government as part of an impending agreement to exempt all Virginia anglers next year from having to register directly with the federal government annually and pay the yearly federal registration charge of up to $25 each.  The state program will be free, and will save anglers the cost of registering with the federal government.  The national registry is in force now, and requires virtually all anglers to register with the federal government now.  For information on the national registration requirement, and to register, please go to https://www.countmyfish.noaa.gov/

April 9, 2010:  Effective April 9, 2010, The Public Oyster Ground Hand Tong Harvest Season in the James River seed area including the deep water shoal state replenishment seed area and James River Jail Island and Point of Shoals clean culls areas is hereby extended through June 30, 2010. <Notice>

April 6, 2010: The National Marine Fisheries Service has alerted the Virginia Marine Resources Commission it is extending the recreational black sea bass closure in federal waters an extra 39 days, until May 22. The service is in the process of conducting notice-and-comment rulemaking for the final 2010 black sea bass recreational size, season and possession limits. <Announcement>

March 2010

March 29, 2010:  Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Monday, March 29, 2010, it shall be unlawful for any harvester permitted for the black sea bass bycatch fishery to possess aboard a vessel, or to land in Virginia, any black sea bass.  Based upon landing reports from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Virginia seafood buyers, and VMRC Law Enforcement, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the 2010 commercial black sea bass bycatch fishery quota, by the above date and time.  Therefore, after 6:00 P.M. EST, March 29, 2010, it shall be unlawful for any vessels holding a Virginia Black Sea Bass Bycatch Permit to possess aboard a vessel, or to land in Virginia, any black sea bass.  Only vessels holding a valid Virginia Black Sea Bass Directed Permit may possess black sea bass. <Closure Notice>

March 24, 2010:  Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Monday, March 29, 2010, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close. Vessels that have entered Virginia waters and secured to an offloading site prior to 6:00 P.M., EST, Monday, March 29, 2010 may possess and offload 7,500 pounds of Summer Flounder, minus any previous landings during the twelve-day landing period. Based upon landing reports from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Virginia seafood buyers and VMRC Law Enforcement, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 85% of the First Period Offshore Quota of 1,728,987 pounds of Summer Flounder by the above date and time. <Closure Notice>

March 23, 2010:
  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission signaled a willingness to approve tough new warm-weather shellfish handling regulations in order to protect consumer health, and the shellfish industry from federal intervention in the event someone gets sick from eating a tainted Virginia oyster or clam.  The state's largest shellfish processors support the measures, saying the economic risk is too great to continue to rely mainly on post-harvest icing requirements while the federal Food and Drug Administration is considering mandatory, and expensive, pre-sale processing of shellfish in other states.  The Commission decided to hold off a vote until April in order to fine-tune the tougher proposed regulations. <Meeting Summary>

March 22, 2010:  Effective 12:00 P.M. EST Tuesday, March 23, 2010, it shall be unlawful for any harvester permitted for the black sea bass bycatch fishery to possess aboard a vessel, or to land in Virginia, more than 100 pounds of black sea bass. <Reduction Notice>

March 1, 2010:
  Shellfish Aquaculture has now been recognized by the U. S. Department of Agriculture for the positive impact it has in the Chesapeake Bay for removing nutrients and sediments from the water. They have added shellfish aquaculture to the Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS), 2010 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative Program. Through this program, shellfish aquaculturists can sign up for a program to be paid for gear cycling and best management practices on their farm. Information on how an individual can apply is included in the Fisheries Management Division, Conservation and Replenishment Program section. [2010 Aquaculture Information]

February 2010

February 26, 2010: In 2009, 16 new anglers achieved Master Angler status while 2 anglers, already qualified as Master Angler, advanced to the next level. A total of 40 anglers, who registered six or more species of fish for Citations in 2009, have qualified as Virginia Expert Saltwater Anglers. <Press Release>

February 24, 2010: VDH has announced that Emergency Shellfish Closure # 068 F "James River" has been rescinded effective 2/24/2010.  All waters in the James River have now reverted to their prior classification. <Revised Emergency Shellfish Closure #068 F>

February 23, 2010:
  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted to lower the size limit for flounder this year.  The new regulations set the new size limit at 18.5 inches, down from 19 inches, but reduce the bag limit from five to four flounder per day for the rest of the year.  A loosening of the size limit was possible because of an increased harvest quota established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. <Meeting Summary>

February 22, 2010: VDH has announced that Emergency Shellfish Closure # 068F "Rappahannock River" has been rescinded effective today, 2/22/ 2010.  All waters in the Rappahannock River have now reverted to their prior classification. <Revised Emergency Shellfish Closure #068 F>

February 18, 2010: 
VDH has announced a revision of its emergency shellfish closure for the James River.   Floodwaters from heavy rains during January 24-25, 2010 required issuance of an Emergency Shellfish Closure for the James River. This revised emergency closure is effective Thursday February 18, 2010 and will remain in effect until seawater sampling results allow these waters to return to their previous classification status.     <Revised Emergency Shellfish Closure #069 K>

February 4, 2010: 
VDH has announced a revision of its emergency shellfish closure for the Rappahannock River.   Floodwaters from heavy rains during January 24-25, 2010 required issuance of an Emergency Shellfish Closure for the Rappahannock River. This revised emergency closure is effective Thursday February 4, 2010 and will remain in effect until seawater sampling results allow these waters to return to their previous classification status.   <Revised Emergency Shellfish Closure # 068F>

January 2010

January 27, 2010:  Last year was another banner year for saltwater fishing in Virginia! Anglers registered 5,191 trophy-size fish for citation awards during the 52nd Annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, which ended December 31.  For the tenth year in a row, anglers registered at least 5,000 citations since the Tournament began in 1958, yet more proof that Virginia has some of the best saltwater fishing in the country. <Press Release>

January 26, 2010:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted unanimously to considering lowering the size limit for the 2010 summer flounder season.  The Commission agreed to advertise for three options to be discussed at next month's public hearing.  The options are for an 18.5 inch size limit with either a five or four flounder daily creel limit, or for an 18 inch, five-fish limit with a closed season from June 7 to July 11.  The current size limit is 19 inches with a five fish creel limit.  The flounder stock has improved, which permits a loosening of regulations this year. <Meeting Summary>

January 26, 2010:  The Virginia Department of Health announced today that the James River and a portion of the Rappahannock River will be closed to shellfish harvesting due to flooding in those rivers.  The emergency closure is effective January 27, 2010.  The James River will be closed down to the vicinity of the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, Interstate 664.  The Rappahannock River will be closed down to a line extending from Monaskon on the north shore to Stove Point on the south shore.  Maps of the affected areas are posted on the Division of Shellfish Sanitation’s home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/.  The affected shellfish are bivalve mollusks including oysters and clams, but not crabs or fin fish. [VDH Press Release]

January 25, 2010:  NOAA Fisheries Service has announced the commercial quota and recreational harvest limits for summer flounder, effective January 1, 2010. <Flounder Notice>

January 22, 2010:
The National Marine Fisheries Service has closed the spiny dogfish fishery for vessels with federal permits, effective 12:01 a.m. on January 26, 2010. <Closure Notice>

January 11, 2010:  Governor Tim Kaine issued Executive Order 101 (2009) on November 11, 2009 that declared a state of emergency to exist for the Commonwealth of Virginia based on severe weather from prolonged periods of wet and windy weather from the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida and a coastal Nor’easter causing widespread power outages, flooding and transportation difficulties throughout the State.  Pursuant to Governor Kaine's Executive Order 106 (2009), VMRC has established a Joint Permit Application for emergency authorization to reconstruct previously permitted structures destroyed by this storm.  You may retrieve this form by accessing the following link:  Emergency JPA 2010



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Recent Regulations

 

NOVEMBER  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-920-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO LANDING LICENSES"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-995-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO COMMERCIAL HOOK-AND-LINE FISHING"

SEPTEMBER  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-260-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO DESIGNATION OF SEED AREAS AND CLEAN CULL AREAS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-650-10, ET SEQ "ESTABLISHMENT OF OYSTER SANCTUARY AREAS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-720-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON OYSTER HARVEST"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1090-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND LICENSE FEES"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1230-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON SHELLFISH"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1240-10 ET SEQ. "FISHERMAN IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM"

JUNE  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-450-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO TAKING OF BLUE FISH" 

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-752-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO BLUE CRAB SANCTUARIES" 

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-950-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"

MAY  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-20-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO THE LICENSING OF FIXED FISHING DEVICES" 

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-370-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO THE CULLING OF CRABS" 

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-752-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO BLUE CRAB SANCTUARIES" 

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1040-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO CRABBING LICENSES"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1140-10, ET SEQ "PROHIBITION OF CRAB DREDGING IN VIRGINIA WATERS" 

APRIL  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-560-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHELLFISH MANAGEMENT AREAS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-720-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON OYSTER HARVEST"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1230-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON SHELLFISH"   

MARCH  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-960-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO TAUTOG"

FEBRUARY  2010

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-380-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO GREY TROUT (WEAKFISH)"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-530-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO AMERICAN SHAD"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-720-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON OYSTER HARVEST"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-910-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SCUP (PORGY)"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-950-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"










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