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NOTE: This newsletter may contain outdated material. Please review the Regulation Index and the What’s New pages to obtain the most recent versions of the Regulation information.

VMRC Fisheries News

September 1999

Plans & Statistics










To obtain a complete copy of the regulations call 757-247-2248 or access the VMRC homepage:


The Commission recently made the following regulation changes:

REGULATION 4VAC 20-80-10 ET SEQ. "Pertaining to the Setting of Fishing Devices Proximate to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel"

4VAC 20-80-10 Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to promote the general welfare of the seafood industry by avoiding gear conflicts proximate to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

4VAC 20-80-20. Gill Nets.

It shall be unlawful for any person to set, place, or fish a gill net of any type in an area extending 250 yards from either span of the Chesapeake Bay bridge-Tunnel. For purposes of this section, the distance shall be measured from the outer edges of each span and shall extend from the low water mark on Fishermans Island to the one-mile marker on the south end of the bridge-tunnel.


4VAC 20-80-30. Fixed Fishing Devices.

It shall be unlawful for any person to set, place, or fish a fixed fishing device of any type in an area extending 250 yards from either span of the Chesapeake Bay bridge-tunnel. For purposes of this section, the distance shall be measured from the outer edges of each span, and shall apply anywhere along bridge-tunnel and its causeways.




All public hearings will be held at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission office, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 1999 - 12 NOON: Proposed amendments to the following regulations:

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

* 4VAC 20-700-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crab Pots"

* 4VAC 20-1040-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Crabbing Licenses and Tags"

The purpose of the proposed amendments are to reduce effort in the hard crab and peeler crab fisheries, increase the size of the spawning stock of blue crabs, reduce the possibility of overfishing this resource, and promote economic efficiency. The proposed regulations include the following:

A. A reduction in effort in the peeler pot fishery, to achieve a limit of 200,000 peeler pots. The Commission will consider regulations to reduce effort in the fishery, including, but not limited to, a reduction in the number of peeler pots per person or per vessel and seasonal adjustments to these limits, reductions in the number of peeler pot licenses issued, and elimination of certain peeler pot licenses not previously utilized by the current license holder.

B. A requirement that the large-size (2 5/16-inch inside diameter) cull ring in any hard crab pot set or fished in the mainstem of Chesapeake Bay remain open and unobstructed at all times.

C. A reduction in potential effort in the hard crab pot fishery. The Commission will consider regulations to reduce effort in the fishery, including, but not limited to, a reduction in the number of crab pot licenses issued, elimination of certain licenses not previously utilized by the current license holder, and a reduction in the number of crab pots per license holder.




The Virginia Recreational Fisheries Advisory Board held a public hearing on Monday, September 13, 1999 at 7:00 p.m., on the proposed funding of the below listed projects. These projects are currently being considered for funding from the Saltwater Fishing License Fund:

Multi-Year Projects for Renewal:

A. Virginia Game Fish Tagging Program; VIMS, VMRC; John Lucy and Claude Bain - $49,980

B. Reprinting of the Virginia Marine Anglers Guide; VMRC, Claude Bain - $125,000

C. Mini-School of Marine Science, VIMS; Wanda Cohen - $10,625

New Projects:

D. South Side Chesconessex Creek Pier Replacement; County of Accomack, Michael Freitas - $66,600

E. Hunting Creek Pier Replacement; County of Accomack, Michael Freitas - $87,400

F. Westmoreland State Park-Fishing Pier Extension; James C. Caruthers - $75,000

G. Overflow Parking for Owls Creek Public Boat Ramp, City of Virginia Beach; John W. Thurston, Jr - $5,500

H. Lynnhaven Boat Ramp, City of Virginia Beach; J. Barry Frankenfield -$332,150

I. Oyster Reef Restoration in the Lower Rappahannock River; Recreational Fishing Support for the Virginia Oyster Heritage Program, CCA of Virginia and VMRC; Richard Welton and James Wesson - $100,000

J. Development of a Non-Lethal Test for Determining the Sex of Tagged Cobia, VIMS; John E. Onley - $31,557

K. Extension of Cape Charles Fun Pier, Town of Cape Charles - $160,000

L. 1998 Saltwater Recreational Fishing License Database, VMRC; Jack Travelstead - $20,000

M. Deployment Funding for Placement of Structure on Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Artificial Reefs, VMRC; Mike Meier - $50,000

Striped Bass Management Plans for Year 2000

The annual stock assessment on striped bass indicates that the overall stock size increased slightly in 1998. At the same time, there was a decline in spawning stock biomass from 15 million pounds in 1997 to 14 million pounds in 1998. In response to this finding, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Striped Bass Management Board decided that management plans for striped bass need to be revised for the year 2000. The Technical Committee came up with a list of different scenarios and their possible impacts on different sectors of the fishery. The list was reviewed by the Striped Bass Management Board on Tuesday, September 14, 1999. They decided to go out for public comment on the following:

1. A reduction plan imposed by each state.

2. Coastwide one-fish bag limit.

  1. A two inch minimum size increase by each state.




The VMRC would like to thank you for your cooperation in the Mandatory Reporting Program. As you know we have recently designed a new Harvest Report form. This form is designed to eliminate repetition in writing. Please take the following steps when filling out the report forms:

1. Please use ink instead of pencil. Pencil is difficult to read and tends to fade.

2. Reports are due no later than the 5th of each month. Delinquent reports result in inaccurate data. Accurate data is necessary to manage the fisheries more efficiently.

3. If you are not fishing you have two options: you may either send in the green card and circle the months you did not fish, or you may call 1-800-937-9247 and leave a message.

4. If you are fishing offshore you must let us know by sending in the green card with the months you fished offshore, or call 1-800-937-9247 and leave a message.

5. The top section on the form should be filled out completely. Don't forget to include the last four numbers of your commercial registration license number as well as the license numbers of those who fished with you. You must also include the county landed, the date you fished, the buyer you sold to, and the harvest data.

6. After the first harvest day is filled out completely, the following days of harvest only need to include the date, the species, and amount of harvest. If something changes, such as the landing, gear, water fished and/or hours, then this should be indicated in the proper section of the form.

  1. Each gear type should be entered in a separate section on the form.





1. PLEASE DO NOT write days that you did not harvest. It's a waste of your time and paper.

2..PLEASE DO NOT cut the forms. There is a control number on the bottom of each form that is used for tracking purposes. The forms are scanned and small pieces of paper jam our scanning machine.

3. PLEASE DO NOT send in harvest reports written on odd sheets of paper or receipts from buyers. Use the Harvest Report form provided by VMRC.

Thanks for your cooperation!



Attention Striped Bass Fishermen!

There is still time to exchange your metal tags for plastic ones. If you would like to exchange your metal tags, please contact Ellen Cosby at (757)247-2245.


New Commission Member On Board!

Mr. Kenneth Wayne Williams, a resident of

Middlesex County and a lifelong waterman has recently been appointed by Governor Jim Gilmore as our newest Commission member. Welcome aboard!



The following is just a summary. The entire story can be found online:

NMFS Northeast Region

Federal Funding Available For Gear Research

The federal government has funding available for those fishermen who are willing to help them in developing and testing ideas to make fishing gear safer for whales. Fishermen who would like to help out with this study or have any suggestions about how to solve the entanglement problem are urged contact Glenn Salvador at (207)636-2766 or NMFS gear engineer Al Blott at (401) 782-3345. Copies of the video and flyers on the program can be obtained for $15.00 from Sea Grant Extension, University of Maine, 5715 Coburn Hall, #22, Orono, ME 04469-5715; (207)581-1440.


The source for the following story is from the August 31, 1999 issue of the "Virginia Pilot"

Parasite Found in Chesapeake Bay Oysters

A parasite in oysters has been found in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay. The parasite, cryptosporidium parvum, a relatively mild pathogen, sometimes can cause people to become sick with cramps and diarrhea. C. Parvum will generally invade water that is contaminated with human and animal wastes. There is a potential for a higher rate of infection during periods of hard rain due to runoff.

Oysters are filter feeders, therefore they are capable of filtering and retaining harmful microorganisms found in the water columns. This could however, potentially be harmful to those who consume the oyster. It is highly recommended that consumers only eat cooked oysters as the parasite dies when heated.


"Seafood Market Analyst"

Press Release

U.S. Seafood Trade Deficit Rises to Record In 1998

March 15, 1999

The 1998 U.S. seafood trade deficit reached a record of nearly $6 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce analyzed in Seafood Market Analyst's U.S. Seafood Market Forecast Reports. The strength of the U.S. dollar and weak harvests in some domestic fisheries, such as sockeye salmon, contributed to record imports of just over $8 billion. The value of imports from Canada was up 14%; Thailand, up 19%; Taiwan, up 12%; and Chile, up 16%. The value of shrimp imports was up just over 5% (shrimp and prawn imports exceeded $3.1 billion in 1998), crab and lobster was up 14%, finfish as a group was up nearly 7%, and salmon was up 18%.

On the other hand, the value of U.S. exports was just over $2.1 billion, down nearly 17%. Weak U.S. harvests, increasing global competition, and the economic crisis in Asia were particularly devastating. The value of exports to other important countries, such as Canada and France, was largely unchanged. The value of exported shellfish was off 18%, and finfish was also down 18%.


Crabbing Restrictions in the Potomac

The Potomac River Fisheries Commission voted to establish a temporary 30-bushel daily limit in the Potomac River. The restrictions will begin September 15, 1999 and remain in effect through November 30, 1999 when crabbing season ends. Those who fish in the Bay or in rivers that empty into the Potomac will follow separate state regulations.


Fisheries News Continued..........

Veined RapaWhelk Bounty Program:

Researchers at VIMS would like to thank those who participated in the Rapa whelk Collection program during the last 12 months. The donations enabled VIMS scientists to get a better understanding of the distribution and abundance of this animal in the Bay.

To date, over 650 Rapa whelks have been collected and donated to their research program. The live whelks that were donated enabled researchers to establish a captive breeding population, which will be used for further research and experimentation. Some of the studies on Rapa whelks include: reproduction, growth, predation, genetics, behavior, and distribution. Updates on the Rapa whelk research can be found on the internet web site:

Though much progress has been made, there is still more research that needs to be done. The VIMS Rapa whelk Collection program will continue through this fall and winter. The bounty program remains in effect: VIMS will pay $2 per snail provided that animal's collection location and method are reported when the whelk is donated. Live animals are more useful than dead ones, but all donations are appreciated.

Beginning September 1, 1999, VIMS will be offering a bounty program option for individuals that donate 10 or more whelks during the next year. Rapa whelk t-shirts will be available instead of the $2 per animal for individuals that donate 10 or more whelks between September 1, 1999 and September 1, 2000. If you would like to receive a Rapa whelk t-shirt instead of bounty money, please make this request when whelks are given to VIMS personnel. They will keep a tally of whelks donated in their records and send a t-shirt for every 10 whelks received per individual. The $2 per animal bounty will still be available for those individuals that are not interested in t-shirts.

Funding for the Rapa Whelk Bounty Program is made possible through the Virginia Saltwater Commercial Fishing Development Fund, administered through the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and the Virginia Sea Grant Program.

To be eligible for the bounty, you must give the following information toVIMS personnel when the whelk is picked up or when you deliver the whelk:

1. Date of collection.

2. Specific collection location

3. Bottom type at the collection site

4. Water depth at the collection site

To report a whelk, please call either Roger Mann(804)684-7360 or Juliana Harding (804)684-7302. They will make arrangements to pick-up the whelk(s) from you at your convenience.


Press Release for Blue Crab Survey Effort:

The Chesapeake Bay Commission has asked the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University, to prepare a report on how regulations have affected the incomes and crabbing opportunities for commercial license holders in the Bay. As part of this effort, a survey will be mailed out in late November to a sample of crab gear license holders in both Maryland and Virginia. This survey will ask for information about your crabbing operation, your knowledge of the blue crab and your perceptions of the current state of the resource and the fishery. If you receive a survey, please complete and return it promptly. Your response is vital in getting accurate information on the Bay's blue crab fishery and in making sure watermen's concerns are taken into account when planning long-term management strategies for the fishery.




If you have any questions or concerns about this effort, please contact Anne Rhodes at (804)828-1342.

Volunteers Needed!

VMRC Has an Opportunity for People Interested in "Hands On" Oyster Restoration:

VMRC has been working with VIMS for two years on a project to plant eelgrass in association with constructed oyster reefs. There has been much success in getting eelgrass to grow in small research size plots. The plan this year is to plant several larger plots using citizen volunteers to help. The CCA and Nature Conservancy is helping to get some volunteers, but if anyone would like to help, it will be on Saturday, October 9 (rain date 10th). We will be planting in South Bay, leaving out of Oyster, and in Kegotank Bay, leaving out of Gargathy.

For more information on oyster restoration please call Jim Wesson at (757)247-2121 or Kathy Leonard at (757)247-2120.



Notice is hereby given that the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) is accepting proposals for funding assistance in the restoration of the oyster resources on private oyster ground leases. The General Assembly during this year's session (1999) approved funds, which can be utilized by private oyster ground leaseholders.

Those interested in applying for assistance need to submit a completed application form to the Conservation and Replenishment Division of VMRC at P.O. Box 756, Newport News, VA 23607-0756.

To obtain an application form, you can pick it up at the Conservation and Replenishment Division office, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd floor, Newport News, VA; or call and request the application form at extension 757-247-2120.

The deadline for submitting this application is 5:00 p.m., January 31, 2000. Proposals will be ranked on many factors including cost of project, need,

likelihood of success, and history of the lease or surrounding area productivity. Each proposal will be reviewed by a Committee and those proposals approved should be allocated funding by March 1, 2000, which will allow seed and/or shell placement by June 30, 2000.

For more information, please contact the Conservation and Replenishment Division office, 757-247-2121.



Your oyster harvest data is needed. Statistics are a management tool necessary to making effective decisions. Reporting is still required. This activity does not get reported through the mandatory reporting system.

There is still a replenishment tax due for all oysters harvested from public oyster ground, even though some of the other taxes are no longer or temporarily not collected.

If you're a buyer, packer, exporter, planter, leaseholder, or if a harvester is acting as a buyer and selling to someone other than a licensed buyer, all harvest whether from public ground, private ground (oysters raised by traditional or aquacultural methods)(MRC 53's) , or whether imports or exports (MRC 55's) must be reported. Each daily transaction should result in a MRC 53 or 55 ticket being completed with all information requested.

All bi-monthly reports (457's) and ticket forms (53's or 55's) can be obtained by contacting a District Marine Patrol Officer or the VMRC office @ extension 757-247-2120. All completed forms and applicable oyster taxes must be submitted to the District Marine Patrol Officer in your area by the 5th and 20th of each month. A list of water codes to be used on the tickets can also be obtained by contacting extension 757-247-2120.


The following story was obtained from "The Crest", a publication of VIMS.

Virginia Sea Grant to Administer Commercial Fishery Resource Program:

There is good news for commercial fishermen in Virginia. This year, the General Assembly has approved the allocation of $300,000 in grant money to establish the Commercial Fishery Resource Grant Program (CFRGP) in Virginia. Already well received in North Carolina and funded at a level exceeding $900,000, the CFRGP finances research proposals submitted by commercial fishermen to "protect and enhance the state's coastal fishery resources."

What this means for Virginia is that fishermen with innovative ideas for improving fishing gear, eliminating bycatch, developing new markets, or improving Virginia's seafood industry, can receive financial support from the General Assembly for their ideas. A similar project has done extremely well in North Carolina and has funded projects such as Pound Net By-catch Reduction through Escape Panels; Gear Development for the Live Flounder Market; TED Development for Small Trawls; and HACCP Program Assistance for Small Seafood Processors and Dealers, among others. The basic principle of the program is that people in the industry often have excellent ideas for enhancing and protecting fisheries, but they lack the financial resources to experiment with innovations.

The grant money will be available on a competitive basis to all persons actively involved in a fishing industry. Individuals not directly involved with a fishing industry may be eligible if their projects have written endorsements from organizations representing fishing industries.

All proposals will be reviewed by a panel of seven members. Five members shall be appointed from nominations made by various watermen's associations in Virginia, one member will be appointed by the Commissioner of the Marine Resources Commission, and one member shall be appointed by the Director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Based on panel reviews and Advisory Board input, proposals will be recommended to the Virginia Graduate Marine Science Consortium. The Consortium will make all final decisions on grants, including the level of funding for each project.

A list of potential research areas has been developed and approved by the CFRGP Advisory Board. Though this is not intended to be an all inclusive list, it is provided to give suggestions about the types of programs that could be appropriate for proposals to the CFRGP. There are certainly many more research areas that could qualify as appropriate. Approved research areas include: 1)new fisheries equipment or gear, 2) environmental pilot studies, including water quality and fisheries habitat, 3) aquaculture or mariculture of marine-dependent species, and 4) seafood technology.

Though the dates have yet to be announced, several grant writing workshops are going to be made available to the public to better explain the grant program, the eligibility and funding priorities, how to complete the application form, and where to go for more help in developing the grant package. Dates and registration information will be announced in the near future. If you would like more information, please contact Bill Rickards, Director, VGMSC, at (804)924-5965, or Bill DuPaul, Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, VIMS, at (804)684-7163.

As of now, the application shall include but not be limited to the following:

1. Name and address of the primary applicant;

2. List of the licenses issued to the applicant by the state of Virginia.

3. A description of the project;

4. A detailed statement of the project including the cost to plan and design the project;

5. An explanation of how the project will enhance the fishery resource;

6. List of names and addresses of any other persons who will participate in the project; and

7. Any other information necessary to make a recommendation on the application.



Proposal Submission: To be considered for funding in this solicitation signed application must be delivered or mailed to the Virginia Graduate Marine Science Consortium office no later than 5:00 p.m., November 15, 1999. Mailed copies must be postmarked no later than 5:00 p.m., November 12, 1999. Faxed proposals will not be considered. Proposals must be delivered or mailed to FRGP-VGMSC, 170 Rugby Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903. Fishery Resource Grant Application Workshops: October 4 ,Tangier School Auditorium, 2:30-4:30pm; October 5, RCC-Auditorium, Warsaw Campus, 6:30-8:30pm; October 7, VIMS Lab, Wachapreague 6:30-8:30pm. Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission


News Release: August 4, 1999

"American Eel Board Approves Draft Eel FMP:

Final Approval Slated for November"

Alexandria, Virginia B The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission American Eel Management Board announced today approval of the Draft FMP for American Eel for final adoption by the Board and the Commission at its Annual Meeting in late October/early November. The plan is the culmination of four years of intense work and scrutiny by the

American Eel Management Board, Technical Committee, Advisory Panel, and the public. Its specific goals include: protecting and enhancing the abundance of American eel in inland and territorial waters of the Atlantic states and jurisdictions (Maine through Florida, the District of Columbia, and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission); contributing

to the viability of the American eel spawning population; and providing for sustainable commercial, subsistence and recreational fisheries by preventing overharvest of any eel life stage.

A Draft Public Hearing Document of the FMP had been approved by the Board in February 1999. This resulted in 18 public hearings along the coast in locations identified by the states and jurisdictions. Recommendations received during the public hearings and written comments were reviewed and addressed by the Board which resulted in some changes to the latest draft.

The impetus to begin the fisheries management planning process for American eel arose in part out of concern regarding a potential decline in American eel populations in recent years and in part out of concern regarding the interconnectedness of fisheries for American eel and horseshoe crab. Several factors have contributed to the concern that unlimited harvest

may only aggravate current declines in eel population status. These factors include: (1) a long maturation period (7-30 years); (2) glass eels aggregate seasonally to migrate; (3) yellow eel harvest is a cumulative stress, over multiple years, on the same yearclasses; (4) all eel mortality is pre-spawning mortality; and (5) changes in yearclass abundance are not readily recognizable because harvest data include fish of similar sizes but are from a number of yearclasses.

The draft plan will require mandatory implementation of a coastwide monitoring and assessment program for the young-of-the-year eels. It will also require the states and jurisdictions to collect commercial harvest data in order to quantify the harvest and to evaluate the existing data collection efforts.

The primary regulatory tools of the plan focus on establishing harvest limits on recreational and commercial fisheries. Specifically, the draft plan calls for establishment of a six-inch minimum size and, 50 eel/person possession limit for recreational fisheries in all of the participating states/jurisdictions, unless otherwise approved by the Board. Additionally,

the Board approved a provision which prohibits the sale of eels by recreational fishermen. Commercial management measures will maintain existing or more conservative American eel commercial fishery regulations, including gear specifications, for all life stages. States with minimum size limits for commercial eel fisheries shall retain those minimum size limits, unless otherwise approved by the American Eel Management Board.

In addition, the Board has approved an initial recommendation to the Secretary of Commerce calling for a ban on harvest of American eel at any life stage o federal waters (three to 200 miles offshore), but will permit a possession limit of 50 eel/person for use as bait. A recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior was also approved calling for the listing of American eel glass eels and elvers under Appendix III of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). The CITES listing will in no way prohibit the harvest of American eel at any life stage, but rather will improve record-keeping of exports and should reduce any illegal harvest of eel. Of all the comments received through the extensive public hearing process on the draft plan, the Appendix III listing gained the most widespread support.

The final draft of the plan is slated for Board and Commission approval at the Commission's Annual Meeting in early November. For information, please contact Heather Stirratt, Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator, at (202)289-6400, ext. 301.




VMRC - October 26, 9:30 a.m.

CMAC - October 18, 7:00 p.m.

MAFMC - October 12-14,

Nags Head, NC

ASMFC - October 31-Nov 4,

Mystic, CT

FMAC - October 19, 7:00 p.m.


VMRC - November 23, 9:30 a.m.

RFAB - November 8, 7:00 p.m

FMAC - November 16, 7:00 p.m.

CMAC - November 15, 7:00 p.m.


VMRC - December 28, 9:30 a.m.

MAFMC - December 7-9, Ocean City, MD


VMRC - Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Meetings set as 4th Tuesday of each month. Meetings begin at 9:30 a.m. (fisheries items are generally considered after 12 noon). Held at Commission Main office.

FMAC - Finifish Management Advisory Committee. Meetings generally the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. Held at Commission Main office.

RFAB - VMRC Recreational Fishing Advisory Board. Meetings generally begin at 7 p.m. Held at Commission Main office.

MAFMC - Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

CMAC - Crab Management Advisory Committee. Meetings generally the 3rd Monday of each month at 7 p.m. held at Commission Main office.

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