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This is not fair for the recreational anglers. Meeting is tomorrow Mondy 8:30 am, so send your emails and make your phone calls today.

VA is trying to add 2 more seats for commercial watermen representatives to this committee. Please send a brief letter, email or phone call to your representative today, because the meeting is Monday. See Below

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, [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©(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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The Senate committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources passed SB 1087 yesterday. It will now resurface in the House of Delegates. Here is a letter that I sent to one of the senators who was on the committee:

January 27, 2009​

Senator Ryan McDougle
Virginia Senate District 4
Rm 715 Capitol Square
Richmond, VA 23219

"a tremendous setback for marine resources in VA. It will reverse 10 years of hard work." … Parks Rountrey

Dear Ryan,

My shock could not have been greater in learning that you had voted in favor of essentially turning over control of Virginia's marine resources to commercial fishing interests. That is the effect of SB 1087 which proposes adding TWO additional commercial representatives to the VMRC to the ONE commercial representative that already exists. Currently, recreational and commercial interests (and the public's) are properly balanced by having ONE representative each.

What possible logic is there for tripling the voting power of the commercial sector, and handing over the stewardship of our precious marine resources to commercial interests? On the contrary, history suggests that commercial watermen have sometimes been guilty of depleting the very resources upon which their livelihood depends. Commercial interests have no right to dominate decisions regarding a public resource, nor should recreational.

I sat through the blue crab hearing at the VMRC last April. Our once-plentiful blue crabs, having been over harvested for nine of the last ten years, had reached a crisis stage. I listened as the staff outlined what must be done to save the remaining crabs. Then I listened in disbelief as waterman after waterman stood to insist that they be allowed to continue the over harvest. There was no acknowledgement whatsoever of the endangered resource, and no support for ANY cutback in their assault on a resource in crisis. Only the Coastal Conservation Association Virginia and a few other individuals spoke in favor of the recommended conservation measures.

When the vote came, the VMRC's commercial representative voted against the recommended 34% harvest reduction. The commercial representative and the watermen who spoke made it very clear … they cared little for the endangered resource. Their only interest was in continuing the harvest of blue crabs, regardless of the fact that the crab population is at an all time low, and in danger of total collapse.

I am an active volunteer for the Coastal Conservation Association, and for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Both of these organizations have worked hard to achieve a balanced approach to managing our precious marine resources.

Now SB 1087 seeks to destroy the progress we have taken decades to achieve. Why spend endless volunteer hours to protect the marine environment when the legislators who are sworn to protect the environment seem not to understand (or care about) the profound impact of upsetting the regulatory balance. The 13 to 2 vote of the Senate committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources was a devastating blow to those of us who already have grave concerns about the future of Virginia's marine resources.

A longtime angler and conservationist responded to the committee vote, "This is a tremendous setback for marine resources in VA. It will reverse 10 years of hard work to get the commission balanced."

Ultimately the issue of stewardship of our marine resources is not about commercial vs. recreational interests. It's about responsible management of a public resource. SB 1087 is a bad bill, and will do great damage to the marine regulatory process. I hope that you will recognize that, and vote NO when the vote comes to the floor of the senate.

Respectfully,

Copies to:
Governor Timothy Kaine
Senator Tommy Norment
Delegate Chris Peace
Anne Jennings - Chesapeake Bay Foundation
David Nobles - Coastal Conservation Association
Dr. Bob Allen - Virginia Coalition of Angling Clubs
Brandon White - Tidal Fish
 
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