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CCA Virginia Action Alert on the Crab Dredge Fishery for the 2015-2016 Season

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed below. By October 12, 2015, the proposed draft regulations may be viewed at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia.

In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed regulations will be held no earlier than 12:00 noon, on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Virginia. Public comments on the proposals should be provided to Robert L. O'Reilly, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, Virginia 23607, by 12:00 p.m., Monday, October 26, 2015.

II. Chapter 4 VAC 20-1140-10 et seq., "Prohibition of Crab Dredging in Virginia Waters" The Commission proposes to consider whether to close the commercial winter crab dredge fishing season, under Chapter 4 VAC 20-1140-10 et seq.
The purpose of this consideration is in accordance with the provisions of Section 28.2-707 of the Code of Virginia.

"Code of Virginia"§ 28.2-707. Restrictions on crab dredging; penalty.
A. It is unlawful for any boat licensed to dredge crabs to use more than two dredges at any time when dredging for crabs. Such boat may use only one dredge on each side of the boat or join two dredges together for use over the stern of the boat. The size of dredges shall not exceed limits established by the Commission. The Commission is authorized to promulgate regulations limiting the size of dredges.
B. It is unlawful to dislodge crabs from the bottom with a crab dredge using hydraulic methods.
C. It is unlawful to use a crab dredge on Saturday.
D. It is unlawful to use a dredge for catching crabs between April 1 and December 1; however, the Commission, when in its judgment it is advisable due to weather conditions or for purposes relating to the conservation of the blue crab and it is not contrary to the public interest, may close a season in its entirety, may open any season as early as November 16, may delay opening any season, may extend any season until April 16 and may close any season early.
E. It is unlawful to use dredges to take crabs in any of the rivers, or their estuaries, inlets, or creeks, except on the ocean side of Accomack and Northampton Counties.
Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.
Code 1950, § 28-171; 1960, c. 517; 1962, c. 406, § 28.1-166; 1981, c. 52; 1983, c. 603, § 28.1-165.1; 1992, cc. 122, 836; 1994, c. 492; 1996, c. 433."

CCA Virginia believes the crab dredge fishery is destructive to the mostly female crabs that bury in the bottom of the bay over the winter. Also, the crab dredge fishery is destructive to the flora and fauna, sponges, mussels, coral, sea worms and other bottom dwellers and structure that provide food and shelter for crabs and finfish. In addition, the crabs that are harvested from the crab dredge fishery are a very low quality product. It is estimated that at least as many crabs are broken and killed by the dredges as are landed in good shape.

Please send a letter or email to Robert O'Reilly requesting that the winter crab dredge fishery be closed for the December 2015 through March 2016 season. A personal letter in your own words concerning the closure of the winter crab dredge fishery would be the best way to communicate your desires on the conversation of the blue crab fishery. If you believe the crab dredge fishery should remain closed on a permanent basis then you should put that statement in your letter. If you do not have the time for a personal letter then there is a sample letter provided below.

Address your letter or email to:
Robert O'Reilly, Chief, Fisheries Management
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607
Email rob.o'[email protected]

Sample Letter
Robert O'Reilly, Chief, Fisheries Management
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
2066 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
Newport News, VA 23607

Dear Mr. O'Reilly,
I would like to provide my support for continuing to protect the portion of the female crab population that winter over in the lower Chesapeake Bay by keeping the crab dredge fishery closed for the winter of 2015-2016. I believe that it is in the public interest of Virginia to save as many female crabs as possible during the winter so there is enough spawning stock in the spring to provide for a bountiful harvest of blue crabs for all Virginians.
City State Zip

This CCA VA alert was provided as a public service by the Coastal Conservation Association Virginia (CCA VA). Feel free to forward it to your friends and associates. If you have any comments concerning this subject, send an email to [email protected]. CCA VA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose goal is sustainable saltwater fisheries for this and future generations. We are active in legislative, regulatory, and educational activities affecting marine resources. Please visit our website http://www.ccavirginia.org/ for more information.


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