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Public hearing Black Sea Bass, American Shad, Grey Trout, and Summer Flounder.

On February 25th, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission will conduct four public hearings that will consider a number of measures concerning Black Sea Bass, American Shad, Grey Trout, and Summer Flounder recreational regulations. Please provide your opinion on these issues to VMRC via an email letter or fax. Only through your letters faxes and emails will the Commission know how the public feels about this issue.

Mail, fax or email your comments to:

Mr. Jack Travelstead
VMRC
Fisheries Management Division
P. O. Box 756 Newport News,
Virginia 23607

Email -- [email protected]

Fax at 757-247-8101

The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, 25 February after 12:00 at the VMRC 4th Floor Conference Room, on the corner of 26th Street and Washington Avenue in Newport News, VA. The meeting is open to the public and public comments will be taken at that time. Any letters, emails, and faxes received by VMRC Staff prior to Tuesday February 18th will be provided to the Commissioners prior to the meeting. Those received between the 19th and Monday the 24th will be provided to them at the public hearing.

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

1) Increase the recreational minimum size limit from 11 1/2 inches to 12 inches (total length).

2) Establish closed recreational fishing seasons, from September 2-15 and from December 1-31.

The purpose of these amendments is to maintain compliance with the requirements of the Interstate Management Plan for Black Sea Bass.

CCAVA POSITION. This is a mandatory regulation imposed by ASMFC. It will support continued restoration of this species. The only other option that the state has is further reduction in the bag limit or increased minimum size.

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

The Commission proposes to allow permits for the commercial harvest of American shad from the 2003 and 2004 Coastal Area Fishery to be transferable.

The purpose of the amendment is to allow for efficient utilization of this resource.

CCAVA DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS MEASURE. This is the last two years of this fishery. It is covered by a quota, which was supposed to be a 40% reduction. The fishery has reduced its harvest in the past several through attrition. Because of this reduction and the allowance by the ASMFC to average the catch over several years there was no actual reduction from the past few years harvest levels. This fishery is a long way from recovery in many of the river systems. We do not support any expansion in this fishery. If historical harvesters choose not to use their permits, then those permits should be dormant.

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

1) Allow fishermen targeting species other than weakfish (i.e. non-directed fisheries) to possess no more than 300 pounds in any one day or trip (whichever is the longer period of time) as allowable bycatch during any otherwise closed seasons. Fishermen are permitted this 300 pound allowance provided that there is at least an equal poundage of other species on board the vessel. The current allowance is 150 pounds.

2) Allow up to 300 undersized weakfish taken in finfish trawl fisheries to be landed. None of the undersized fish can be sold, according to the Interstate management plan for this species.

3) Shorten the current gill net closed season (May 14 through October 7 and December 18 through March 31) by as many as 16 days. At this time the Fisheries Management Advisory Committee has recommended closed seasons of May 14 through October 20 and December 31 through March 15.

4) Establish new recreational management measures. Available minimum size limit (total length) and possession limit options include: 12 inches and 7 grey trout; 13 inches and 8 grey trout; 14 inches and 9 grey trout; and, 15 inches or greater and 10 grey trout. Currently, the recreational management measures include a 12-inch minimum size limit and 4-grey trout possession limit (May 1 through August 15) and a 14-inch minimum size limit and 14 grey trout (August 16 through April 30). The recently adopted interstate plan does not allow for multiple combinations of minimum size and possession limits.

CCA POSITION, RECREATIONAL FISHERY - This species does reproduce at 10 inches. All of the options are conservational equivalents. Allowing a smaller size limit and a smaller bag limit will afford more small boat anglers the opportunity to harvest this species. Additionally, it will reduce the risk of over harvest of the medium to large fish because of the reduced bag limit. This will help in allowing the population of older fish to increase more rapidly.

CCA POSITION COMMERCIAL FISHERY - Current Virginia Regulations interpret 150 pounds bycatch limit to be a per commercial watermen limit with a maximum of three limits per vessel. If this were extended to a 300 pound bycatch limit, it would mean 900 pounds of trout along with 900 pounds of easy to catch croaker. This could easily lead to lot of directed trips for this species. CCAVA SUPPORTS setting the 300 pound bycatch limit to be a per vessel limit. CCA does not object to the other commercial changes.

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

The Commission proposes to establish as much as a 13-day closed season for the recreational harvest of summer flounder during July. Current regulations restrict harvest to a 17 1/2 inch minimum size, an 8 fish possession limit and a closed season of January 1 through March 28. Further review by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission may determine that no additional closures are necessary. The results of this review will be available on February 25, 2003.

CCA POSITION - CCA has always advocated equality and fairness in fishery management plans. To this end, CCA is opposed any measure that would penalize any one area or group, or benefit a particular group at the expense of others. Only one of the current flounder options meets that fairness criteria: a statewide 17 1/2 inch minimum size, an 8 fish possession limit and a closed season of January 1 through March 28.

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The preceding was provided as a public service by the Coastal Conservation Association Virginia (CCA VA). Feel free it to forward it to your associates. If you have any comments concerning this issue, or would like to have your name added/removed from the distribution list send an email to [email protected] The CCA VA is a 501 C-3 charitable organization whose goal is "CPR" …Conserve, Protect and Restore marine resources for the benefit of all Virginians.

CCA VA Fisheries Management Committee 2003
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