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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
KEEP THE MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION BALANCED
OBJECT TO VIRGINIA SENATE BILL 1087

Your help is needed TODAY.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources will be holding a hearing on SB 1087 Monday January 26th at 8:30 in the morning. If passed, this bill will dedicate two more Commission seats on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to commercial watermen. This is in addition to the existing seat that is held by a working waterman. This compares to the one seat that is dedicated to be held by a recreational fisherman. CCA VA objects to this bill, and asks that you call or email the Senators on the committee TODAY to object to this bill. For your convenience the contact information for the members of the committee is included below.

Recreational fishermen deserve a balanced and fair Marine Commission. The balance between recreational and commercial representation will be destroyed if this bill is passed.

We urge you to call the bill's sponsor Senator John Miller (Newport News), and let him know that you object to the bill, even if it were amended to include dedicating more seats to recreational fishermen. Senator Miller's contact information is: (804)698-7501, [email protected]

Specifically, the bill will change state code such that four of the eight seats on the VMRC will be dedicated as follows: one seat to a working commercial crabber, one seat to a member of the Virginia Waterman's Association, one seat to a working waterman, and one seat to a recreational fishermen that is not employed by the commercial fishing industry. Currently, the law states that one seat must be held by a working waterman and one by a representative of the sport fishing industry or a recreational fisherman who is not employed by the commercial fishing industry.

CCA VA objects to this bill for these reasons:

First, Virginia code already requires a working waterman to hold one seat on the Commission. In addition, a recreational seat is designated, but as a practical matter, that just means someone who is not a working waterman since no criteria are enumerated. Adding 2 more "waterman" seats would cause an imbalance in representation in that licensed watermen and seafood dealers represent less than one one-thousandth (0.0007) of Virginia's population

Second, the appointment process already provides the governor with the authority to balance the Commission in any way he sees fit,"it shall be representative of all areas of interest in Virginia's marine resources, including commercial, recreational and environmental interests." The present Commission is very well balanced between commercial, recreational, and environmental interests, as it should be.

Third and finally, we have heard this bill has been submitted because the Commission has allegedly made "bad decisions," specifically with reference to the harvest of blue crabs. While we agree these decisions have been hard on watermen, and could be considered "bad" in that sense, we cannot agree the actions taken by Virginia Marine Resources Commission to protect and restore the blue crab are bad. In fact, we believe these measures are essential. The idea behind this bill seems to be that the makeup of the Commission should be such that whatever is good for watermen should prevail, and the good of the resource and the other 7 million Virginians who have an equal stake in that resource, should be always outvoted. Given this underlying rationale for the bill, it does not deserve to move forward.

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
Senator Patricia Ticer (Chair), Alexandria, (804)698-7530, dist[email protected]

Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, Arlington, (804)698-7531, [email protected]

Senator Emmett Hanger, Mount Solon, (804)698-7524, [email protected]

Senator John Watkins, Midlothian, (804)698-7510, [email protected]

Senator W. Roscoe Reynolds, Martinsville, (804)698-7520, [email protected]

Senator Phillip Puckett, Tazewell, (804)698-7538, [email protected]

Senator Frank Ruff, Jr., Clarksville, (804)698-7515, [email protected]

Senator Harry Belvins, Chesapeake, (804)698-7514, [email protected]

Senator R. Creigh Deeds, Charlottesville, (804)698-7525, [email protected]

Senator Mark Obenshain, Harrisonburg, (804)698-7526, [email protected]

Senator Ryan McDougle, Mechanicsville, (804)698-75o4, [email protected]

Senator A. Donald McEachin, Richmond, (804)698-7509, [email protected]

Senator J. Chapman Petersen, Fairfax, (804)698-7534, [email protected]

Senator Ralph Northam, Norfolk, (804)698-7506, [email protected]

Senator Richard Stuart, Montross, (804)698-7528, [email protected]

The preceding was provided as a public service by the Coastal Conservation Association Virginia (CCA VA). Feel free 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, reply to this message. The purpose of CCA is to advise and educate the public on the conservation of marine resources. CCA VA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose goal is to Conserve, Protect, and Restore marine resources for the benefit of all Virginians. Please visit our website located at Welcome to Coastal Conservation Association Virginia for more information.
 

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Frank: every member of the Senate AG Nat Res. Committee received the following letter and I expect to attend the meeting in Richmond - I will speak in opposition to SB 1087 , briefly , if given the chance... the more that attend the committee meeting in Richmond, the better...

Subject: Senate Bill 1087 referred to AG. and Nat Resources committee


Dear Senator Ticer, chairman, Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee:

Senate Bill 1087 Summary as introduced: Senator John Miller from the Peninsula
Marine Resources Commission. Requires that, among the eight citizen members of the Marine Resources Commission, one member shall be both a commercial fisherman as defined in § 28.2-241 of the Code of Virginia and a holder of an active license to take crabs and one member shall be a member of the Virginia Waterman's Association.


A Report, just released, on economic impact of recreational and commercial fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic region 1997 to 2006 by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) corroborates the two studies conducted by Dr. Kirkley at VA Institute of Marine Science in 1994 and 2004 and essentially mirrors his results.

The conclusions are that the only commercial fisheries that have increased in importance are Scallops , clams and flounder...Crabs have decreased significantly and 52% of crabs in the entire 5 state region are harvested in Maryland . VA Striped Bass landings have remained flat for the last ten years. Scallops, Clams and Flounder provide 80% of the commercial benefit in Virginia . All three of these species are not regulated by VMRC, but are harvested in the EEZ , (out of VA waters on the Continental Shelf) and are managed under rules designated by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

Recreational fishing impact has increase significantly in the last fifteen years, and both commercial and recreational fishing contribute substantially to the economy and to job support in tidewater communities.

Commercial landings of Menhaden in VA have remained stable at 412 million lbs average for the last several years, do not contribute substantially, however have a large impact in Northumberland County (Reedville)VA. Menhaden regulations are not managed by VMRC, but are in the hands of the VA Legislature.

Past Governors of VA have done a very good job of appointing well qualified persons for the four year terms served by appointees on the VRMC . Senate Bill 1087 (Miller) suggests that the Legislature should limit the selection process by designating that two of the open seats should be assigned to special interest groups.

Specifically reserving two additional seats on the VMRC would be a poor choice for VA. Since decreasing commercial impact is an undisputed fact and the environmental and agricultural impact on Virginia tributaries is increasing annually, If the Legislature chooses to limit who the Governors can appoint, it would appear that one of the designated seats should be filled with a specialist in Environmental science or a Marine habitat specialist and another could be someone with an agricultural background, as these two areas are directly involved with VA’s declining water quality.

Consideration should be given to appointing an additional recreational angler , as the recreational increases are well documented.

This timely NOAA study , just released today supports my contention that Seator Miller's SB 1087 should not get out of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unless major changes are made.

Respectfully,

Dr. Robert B. Allen

1038 Port Harbour Arch

Hampton VA 23664

phone : 757 869-0157
 

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I communicated with an employee at Ches Bay Foundation and he said they are on top of the bill intorduced by Senator Miller SB 1087.

He commented on the Bill:

"CBF believes we should focus on the appointment of engineers, scientists, and members of the academic community who will more prominently focus on the environmental effects of their habitat decisions at VMRC."

Bob Allen Hampton Va
 

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Other Groups Notified

Frank & Bob,

I have been in touch with Striper Forever to see if they can get out an email alert to all of their Virginia members.

Kevin
Weekend Mistress
Coastal Conservation Association Virginia
 

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Well....

As the son of a former waterman and former waterman myself. Knowing the types of restrictions that watermen must go by I feel that waterman are severely under represented in such commitees. It is about time that watermen get a say in what happens to them. I know it may seem that recreational fishermen might be at a disadvantage here but you need to realize that just about every person on such panels and/or boards are simply recreational fishermen hense your concerns are generally put to the forefront. I am not trying to be contrary to your cause here Frank but try to see it from both sides. Although watermen may represent less than 1-1000th of a percent their way of life depends on the water. I am a recreational fisherman also and haven't worked the water in about 5 years. But I still have family members that work the water and do not wish to see them suffer due to people who catch fish for fun can have their cake and eat it to. Again I wish to remind you that I am not stepping on your right to your opinion but family wellbeings are at stake. Just my opinion.
 

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Senator Miller: ( e-mailed Sat Jan 24th)

I live in your district and voted for you in your last election. I am very happy for all of us that you won.

I wrote you last week related to your HB 1087. (never received a reply)

I have many friends and neighbors who do not understand this bill with such narrow special interest.

We all recognize that the VMRC is not perfect. Your bill , if passed, sets the VMRC back 30 years . For the last many years the local newspaper (Hampton Roads Daily Press) and many other citizen organizations have worked to get the VMRC improved. Broad based citizen organizations have been succeeding in getting the VMRC to recognize that it is increasingly important for the Commissioners to be concerned with agricultural run-off, protection of filter-feeders, enforcement of habitat and environmental issues.

With the passage of the Magnussun-Stevens origional act (ten years ago) and the second phase, the Magnussun Steven -reauthoizion bill two years ago, Congress and National Marine Fisheries has just about removed local State marine agencies from setting the rules and regulations for fisheries. The NMFS determines quotas, keeps statistics, ...leaving little for the State Marine agencies to regulate ....the local agencies may fine tune the regulations, within Federal peramiters and are requested that enforcement of the regulations be done by the local state marine police.

The quality of water in the Tributaries and habitat encrochment by commerical (and residential) developement and agriculture are the primary issues that the VMRC now dedicates their over-worked staff and lengthy monthly meeting toward....

Most Democratic-leaning elected officials are inclined to protect our natural resources and the environment. Your introduction of SB 1087 is not supportive of a strong , governor-appointed, Commission.

I urge you to withdraw the bill (SB 1087) from the Senate Ags and Tribs committeee before the Committee exposes it for all the shortcomings.

I and many others plan to attend the hearing before AGs and Tribs on Monday morning and speak in opposition to SB 1087.

Dr. Robert B. Allen
1038 Port Harbour Arch
Hampton Va 23664

757-869-0157
 

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Is my Senator John Miller so poorly informed and misguided?

Just had to write him again after stewing alittle more on his bad bill SB 1087

Dear Senator John Miller:

This letter to you is again to express my concerns related to SB 1087 which you have submitted and which is expected to be before the Senate Agriculture and Tribs committee Monday morning.

Somewhere you or your staff have not been fully informed of the history, and the future of the VA Marine Resource Commission. Since the inception of the Virginia Oyster Police in the late 1800's employing two schooners, the organization has grown and been charged with a much different role than originally. The Marine Police have grown and their role widely expanded as has the entire VMRC.

I urge you or your staff to look at only four pages listed in the 200+ pages of the following official Virginia document from Governor Kaine.

I would have copied and sent you the four pages, but they were in Adobe PDF , which I cannot copy and paste. I have provided you and your staff the internet site where it is easily accessed.

The plan accurately documents , the evolving role of VMRC ...a role that your HB 1087 is totally out of step with and you will also find in the four pages very little mentioned about the declining commercial seafood industries in VA. What you will find is all about protecting the habitat, submerged lands and underwater grasses, dunes and beaches, promoting a sustainable recreational fishery, collecting statistics, the VA recreational development fund, artificial reefs and restoring water quality. From what I could gather the VMRC is being charged with taking care of what we have left in the way of marine resources.

Do yourself a favor and read it . Start thinking: CONSERVATION….not exploitation !

2007 Virginia Outdoors Plan

The Virginia Outdoors Plan is the state's official document regarding land conservation, outdoor recreation and open space planning. It helps all levels of the public and private sectors meet needs pertaining to those issues.

You may read the Adobe 4 page document at :

http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/recreational_planning/documents/vopchapt09b3.pdf

Respectrully, January 24, 2009

Dr. Robert B. Allen

Port Harbour Arch

Hampton Va 23664

Phone 757-869-0157
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This bill is on the agenda of the Senate Agriculture Conservation and Natural Resources Committee for a hearing Monday January 26th starting a 9:00 AM in Senate Room B in the General Assembly Building. Contact members of the committee to ask that the bill not be reported out of committee or Passed By Indefinitely.

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
Senator Patricia Ticer (Chair), Alexandria, (804)698-7530, [email protected]

Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, Arlington, (804)698-7531, [email protected]

Senator Emmett Hanger, Mount Solon, (804)698-7524, [email protected]

Senator John Watkins, Midlothian, (804)698-7510, [email protected]nate.virginia.gov

Senator W. Roscoe Reynolds, Martinsville, (804)698-7520, [email protected]

Senator Phillip Puckett, Tazewell, (804)698-7538, [email protected]

Senator Frank Ruff, Jr., Clarksville, (804)698-7515, [email protected]

Senator Harry Belvins, Chesapeake, (804)698-7514, [email protected]

Senator R. Creigh Deeds, Charlottesville, (804)698-7525, [email protected]

Senator Mark Obenshain, Harrisonburg, (804)698-7526, [email protected]

Senator Ryan McDougle, Mechanicsville, (804)698-75o4, [email protected]

Senator A. Donald McEachin, Richmond, (804)698-7509, [email protected]

Senator J. Chapman Petersen, Fairfax, (804)698-7534, [email protected]

Senator Ralph Northam, Norfolk, (804)698-7506, [email protected]

Senator Richard Stuart, Montross, (804)698-7528, [email protected]

SENATE BILL NO. 1087
Offered January 14, 2009
Prefiled January 13, 2009
A BILL to amend and reenact § 28.2-102 of the Code of Virginia, relating to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
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Patrons-- Miller, J.C. and Stuart
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Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 28.2-102 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 28.2-102. Commission membership; chairman; qualifications; terms; meetings.

A. The Commission shall consist of a chairman and eight additional members who, to the extent possible, shall be representative of all areas of interest in Virginia's marine resources, including commercial, recreational and environmental interests. At least one member shall, at the time of his appointment, have earned his livelihood for at least five years by working on Virginia waters and shall be licensed and registered as a commercial fisherman as defined in § 28.2-241,; one member shall be both a commercial fisherman as defined in § 28.2-241 and a holder of an active license to take crabs; one member shall be a member of the Virginia Waterman's Association; and one member shall be a representative of the sport fishing industry or a recreational fisherman who is not employed by the commercial fishing industry. The members, including the chairman, shall be appointed by the Governor and shall serve at his pleasure.

B. The chairman and two members of the Commission shall hold office for terms coincident with the term of the Governor making the appointments, or until their successors have been appointed and qualified. The terms of the remaining six members shall expire July 1, 1997, and these same six members shall be reappointed effective July 1, 1997, as successors. Their terms shall be as follows: two members shall be appointed for two-year terms, two members shall be appointed for three-year terms, and two members shall be appointed for four-year terms or until their successors are appointed and qualified. Thereafter, all appointments shall be for terms of four years or until their successors are appointed and qualified. No person, except the chairman, shall serve more than two consecutive four-year terms. Any vacancy shall be filled by the Governor for the unexpired term.

C. The chairman shall be an experienced administrator with knowledge of seafood and marine affairs. He shall serve as Commissioner of Marine Resources.

D. Five members shall constitute a quorum of the Commission.

E. The Commission shall meet on the call of the chairman or three members at such times as he or they may deem necessary, and at such places as he or they may designate.
 
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