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State Senate Committee Votes to "Pack"
Marine Resource Commission.
SB1087 Would Undo Years of Progress in Marine Regulation

Virginia's marine resources would be imperiled if Senate Bill 1087 passes in the General Assembly. We urge your immediate action to defeat this bill.

The bill would dedicate THREE associate commissioner seats on an expanded Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to commercial watermen. This compares to the ONE seat that is held by a recreational fisherman.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources reported SB1087 out of committee on January 26 by a vote of 13 to 2. If the bill is passed in the Senate, then it will go to a House Committee for consideration

We ask that you immediately call or email your state senator or delegate who will soon vote on SB1087. If you do not know the names of your senator and delegate, click here: Welcome to the Virginia General Assembly - Who's My Legislator? It's simple ... just state your name and telephone number, and tell the legislative aide to ask your Senator or Delegate to vote NO on SB1087.

At the Senate Committee hearing, commercial watermen representatives talked about the state of the blue crab fishery and how it has been depressed for the past 15 years. They pointed out that the 22 measures that were put in place prior to this past year did not work. They implied that the VMRC did not listen to the request of the commercial fishermen when they implemented the reduced harvest limits last year, and that it put the watermen out of business for 5 months of the year. They stated their belief that only commercial crabbers were qualified to make decisions relating to the crabbing industry. Their goal was to get adequate representation of the different aspects of commercial fishing on the Commission. They went on to say that commercial fishermen were the best qualified to understand the implications of the habitat improvement decisions as well as the negative implications relating to the habitat permitting process.

The Coastal Conservation Association Virginia and the Virginia Seafood Council spoke against SB 1087. CCA VA president David Nobles stressed the importance of a diverse and balanced VMRC for the benefit of the resources. Marine resources may not be properly served if there is commercial bias in representation.

To have an impact, members need to contact the Delegates who serve on the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources. For your convenience the contact information for the members of the committee is included below. Contact as many of them as you can. They will decide whether this bill gets to the floor of the House of Delegates.

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

Specifically, the bill will add two associate commissioner seats, with both of the additional seats being filled by commercial watermen. Therefore, three of the ten associate commissioner seats on the VMRC would be dedicated to representatives who have earned their livelihood for at least five years by working on Virginia waters, and are licensed as commercial waterman. One seat would continue to be dedicated to a recreational fisherman who is not employed by the commercial fishing industry. Currently, the law calls for a balanced representation with one seat being 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.

Call, e-mail, or write as many of these Delegates as possible. A call takes only a minute. State your name and telephone number, and tell the legislative aide to ask the Delegate to vote NO on SB1087.

House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources
Delegate Harvey Morgan (Chair), Gloucester, (804) 698-1098, [email protected]
Delegate M. Kirkland Cox, Chesterfield, (804) 698-1066, [email protected]
Delegate Beverly J. Sherwood, Winchester, (804) 698-1029, [email protected]house.virginia.gov
Delegate R. Lee Ware, Jr., Powhatan, (804) 698-1065, [email protected]
Delegate Thomas C. Wright, Jr. Victoria, (804) 698-1061, [email protected]
Delegate Robert D. Orrock, Sr., Thornburg, (804) 698-1054, [email protected]
Delegate Christopher B. Saxman, Staunton, (804)698-1020, [email protected]
Delegate Clarke N. Hogan, South Boston, (804) 698-1060, [email protected]
Delegate Edward T. Scott, Culpeper, (804) 698-1030, [email protected]
Delegate Daniel W. Marshall, III, Danville, (804) 698-1014, [email protected]
Delegate Matthew J. Lohr, Harrisonburg, (804) 698-1026, [email protected]
Delegate Charles D. Poindexter, Glade Hill, (804) 698-1009, [email protected]
Delegate Brenda L. Pogge, Yorktown, (804) 698-1096, [email protected]
Delegate Kenneth R. Plum, Reston, (804) 698-1036, [email protected]
Delegate James M. Shuler, Blacksburg, (804) 698-1012, [email protected]
Delegate Albert C. Eisenberg, Arlington, (804) 698-1047, [email protected]
Delegate Stephen C. Shannon, Vienna, (804) 698-1035, [email protected]
Delegate Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr. ,Accomac, (804) 698-1000, [email protected]
Delegate David L. Bulova, Fairfax Station, (804) 698-1037, [email protected]
Delegate Margaret G. Vanderhye, McLean, (804) 698-1034, [email protected]
Delegate Robert W. Mathieson, Virginia Beach, (804) 698-1021, [email protected]
Delegate Joseph F. Bouchard, Virginia Beach, (804) 698-1083, [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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