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Public Notice:  Proposed Regulations, July 2017

NOTICE

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to the regulations, as proposed below. By July 10, 2017, the proposed draft regulations may be viewed at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments to these regulations will be held no earlier than 12:00 noon, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Public comments on the proposals should be provided to Robert L. O’Reilly, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 12:00 p.m., Monday, July 24, 2017.

I. Chapter 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing"

During its June 27th Commission meeting, the Commission adopted emergency amendments to Chapter 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Crabbing,” that established a November 30, 2017 closing date for the 2016-2017 crab pot harvest season and a March 17, 2018 opening date for the 2017-2018 crab pot harvesting season. The Commission also established maximum bushel and vessel limits for lawful crab pot license categories, from November 1 through November 15, that are equal to current bushel limits from November 16 through the end of the 2017 crab pot season and during March of next year. The Commission proposes to make these emergency amendments a part of the final Chapter 4 VAC 20-270-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Crabbing.”

The purpose of these amendments is to conserve the low abundance of 2017 juvenile crabs that will comprise the 2018 spawning stock.

II. Chapter 4 VAC 20-1140-10 et seq., “Prohibition of Crab Dredging in Virginia Waters”

During its June 27th Commission meeting, the Commission adopted emergency amendments to Chapter 4 VAC 20-1140-10 et seq., “Prohibition of Crab Dredging in Virginia Waters,” that closed the 2017-2018 crab dredge fishery season. The Commission proposes to make these emergency amendments a part of the final regulation Chapter 4 VAC 20-1140-10 et seq., “Prohibition of Crab Dredging in Virginia Waters.”

The purpose of this amendment is to maintain consistency with section 28.2-203.1; Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan.

III. Chapter 4 VAC 20-490-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Sharks"

During its June 27th Commission meeting, the Commission adopted emergency amendments to Chapter 4 VAC 20-490-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Sharks,” that established the May 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018 commercial spiny dogfish quota as 4,220,814 pounds and removed the weekly buyer reporting requirement. Buyers are still required to report daily purchases of spiny dogfish, once it is projected and announced that 80 percent of the Virginia spiny dogfish quota has been landed. The Commission proposes to make these emergency amendments a part of the final regulation Chapter 4 VAC 20-490-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Sharks.”

The purpose of this amendment is to comply with the interstate management plan for this species.

IV. Chapter 4 VAC 20-752-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Blue Crab Sanctuary"

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-752-10 et seq., to allow commercial crab pot harvest in a portion of the coastal area of the Blue Crab Sanctuary Area 4, but only in a portion of that area that extends from Cape Henry Light southward to the Virginia-North Carolina State Line and is bounded on the east by the Three Nautical Mile Limit. The Commission will also consider a proposal to establish a later start date on the prohibition of commercial crabbing in Area 2 (the 1942 sanctuary area) that is currently May 9 through September 15.

The purpose for this amendment is to promote efficiency in the blue crab harvesting activities in the lower Chesapeake Bay area.

V. Chapter 4 VAC 20-1090-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Licensing Requirements and License Fees”

The Commission proposes to rescind that section of the regulation that pertains to a December 1, 2017 increase in commercial license fees and maintain commercial license fees at current pricing schedules.

The purpose of this rescission is to comply with actions by the Virginia General Assembly.

VI. Chapter 4 VAC 20-1270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Atlantic Menhaden”

The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-1270-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Atlantic Menhaden," to increase Virginia’s portion of the coast wide total allowable catch of menhaden, in accordance with recent Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission actions.

The purpose of this amendment is to comply with interstate fishery management plan for Atlantic menhaden.

VMRC DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES; THEREFORE, IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS BECAUSE OF A DISABILITY, PLEASE ADVISE MATT HULL (757-247-2214) NO LATER THAN FIVE WORK DAYS PRIOR TO THE MEETING DATE AND IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS.

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