VIRGINIA MARINE RESOURCES COMMISSION
"ESTABLISHES A MINIMUM MESH SIZE AND ESCAPE PANELS FOR EEL POTS"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-500-10 ET SEQ.
This regulation establishes a minimum mesh size and escape panels for eel pots, and prohibits the taking of elvers except for research and aquaculture purposes. This regulation also establishes a recreational possession limit on eels.
This regulation is promulgated pursuant to the authority contained in §28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia. This regulation amends and re-adopts previous Regulation 4 VAC 20-500-10 et seq. which was adopted February 24, 1998 and was effective March 1, 1998. The effective date of this regulation is March 1, 2000.
4 VAC 20-500-10. PURPOSE.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide for appropriate conservation of eels, to reduce the possibility of growth overfishing, and to prevent waste of small eels.
4 VAC 20-500-20. DEFINITION.
The following word and term, when used in this chapter, shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
"Elver" means any eel of less than six inches in total length.
4 VAC 20-500-30. RECISION.
4 VAC 20-180-10 is rescinded, and its provisions are amended and readopted in 4 VAC 20-500-40 of this chapter.
4 VAC 20-500-40. ELVERS.
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess elvers; provided however, that elvers may be taken (i) for research only by duly appointed representatives of any institution of higher education in Virginia and by other parties, when specifically authorized in writing by the Commissioner of Marine Resources, or (ii) by those persons who are approved for a permit for eel aquaculture by the Commission.
4 VAC 20-500-50. MINIMUM MESH SIZE.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to place, set or fish any eel pot in Virginia tidal waters which has a mesh less than 1/2- inch by 1/2- inch.
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to place, set or fish any 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch mesh rectangular or square eel pot unless such pot contains at least one unrestricted 4-inch by 4-inch escape panel consisting of 1/2-inch by 1-inch mesh. In addition, it shall be unlawful for any person to place, set or fish any 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch mesh cylindrical eel pot unless such pot contains at least one unrestricted 4-inch square escape panel of 1/2-inch by 1-inch mesh.
4 VAC 20-500-55. POSSESSION LIMIT.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing with recreational hook-and-line, rod-and-reel, spear, gig or other recreational gear to possess more than 50 eels. When fishing is from a boat or vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit shall be for the boat or vessel and shall be equal to the number of persons on board legally eligible to fish multiplied by 50. The captain or operator of the boat or vessel shall be responsible for any boat or vessel possession limit. Any eel taken after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.
B. Possession of any quantity of eel which exceeds the possession limit described in subsection A of this section shall be presumed to be for commercial purposes.
4 VAC 20-500-60. PENALTY.
As set forth in § 28.2-903 of the Code of Virginia, any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this chapter committed by the same person within twelve months of a prior violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
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