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SUPPORT TWO NEW ARTIFICIAL REEFS

CCA VA urges recreational anglers to contact VMRC and state your support of two artificial fishing reefs one located outside of the mouth of the Poquoson River and the other just inside of the mouth of Mobjack Bay. These projects which have been on the drawing boards for more than 10 years are at risk of being canceled because of comments made at the last Commission meeting by commercial fishermen who do not even fish or clam in these areas. Your input will let the Commission know how the public feels about these projects. This issue will be decided at the March 28, 2006 commission meeting so it’s imperative that you send in your comments ASAP. Your comments can be mailed, emailed, or faxed using the information below.

[email protected]
Fax - (757) 247-8101

Virginia Marine Resources Commission Main Office
2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607
Attn. Jack Travelstead

BACKGROUND

“Anyone who looks at page 21 of the 2001 issue of the Virginia Saltwater Angler's Guide will see that there are 11 reefs within the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Six of those reefs are spread out along the bay side of the Eastern Shore. They are mostly 3 to 5 miles apart from Cape Charles to Onancock. There is a reef off of Ocean View, one inside Hampton Roads at the Middle Ground Light, one 3-miles East of Back River, one off of Gwynns Island and one 5 miles east of the Northern Neck. Additionally, there is a new reef planned about 1 mile east of York Spit Light.”

Those words were the introductory paragraph to CCA Virginia Alert number 53 which came out in March 2001. Based on that alert; a follow-up survey that was completed by more than 500 recreational anglers; and input from local angling clubs, VMRC has been working on developing a series of reefs along the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. Since 2001 they have established three new reefs two of which are in the bay. They are located north of the York Spit Light, east of Windmill Point and in the ocean off of Pungoteague. Additionally new material was added to several of the existing reefs.

VRMC staff has been working on getting permits several new reefs. Currently two of these are under consideration by the Commission. The first is about 3 miles outside of the Poquoson River north of the number “4” channel marker. The second location is near the mouth of Mobjack Bay south of the channel opposite channel marker “6”. Both of these locations have been in the Artificial Reef Program’s long term plans for about ten years. The specific coordinates for the corners of the proposed reefs are:

Poquoson River Reef
NW 37-13.275 N; 76-20.675 W NE 37-13.075 N; 76 20.275 W
SW 37-12.500 N; 76-21.475 W SE 37-12.300 N; 76-21.075 W

Mobjack Bay
NW 37-18.300 W; 76-20.300 W NE 37-18.450 N ; 76-20.075 W
SW 37-17.325 N ; 76-19.300W SE 37-17.500 N ; 76-19.050W

At the February Commission meeting, approval of the sites by the Commission ran into a “snag” when two commercial watermen, neither of whom was directly affected by the placement of the reefs, raised concerns that these reefs would be taking waters away from commercial activities of clamming and fishing gill nets. One also stated that recreational fishermen were potentially taking to much water for their exclusive use. Based on their concern the Commission deferred action on the matter until their March 28th meeting and directed staff to contact the local watermen and determine the potential impact. Staff is in the process of doing this. Although discussion with recreational anglers familiar with the commercial practices in these areas indicate that if any the gill net activity is very seasonal and short term in nature, the results of those meetings are not yet known, and there is a concern that the commercial watermen will object to the projects.

CCA Virginia Fisheries management Committee members feel that the location and configuration of these two artificial reefs will still allow adequate space for the gill net fishermen to work their gear in the adjacent waters. Additionally, as has been done with the York Spit Reef, these areas can be turned into clam brood stock areas where adult clams can be imported and protected so that they can provide seed for the adjacent public and private clamming grounds.

It is important that your opinions also be heard. Send letters, emails or a fax in support of the reefs. Simple statements in your own words are better than a form letter. Personal observations regarding the usage of the two areas by both the commercial and recreational sectors would be very beneficial. Below is a sample of all that is necessary.

Mr. Travelstead,

I would like to voice my support of the reefs that are proposed in the area of the Poquoson River entrance channel and in the mouth of Mobjack Bay. These areas are but a small portion of the total area that is available for recreational and commercial fishing. Recreational fishermen along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay deserve the opportunity to fish for structure-based fish that would be attracted to the proposed reefs. Additionally, because these reefs are closer to the shore than any nearby reefs they will support the small boat fishermen who live or launch in these areas.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Address
City, State
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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 for fish…Conserve, Protect and Restore marine resources for the benefit of all Virginians. Please visit our website located at www.ccavirginia.org for more information.
 
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