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Author Topic: VA sponge crab legislation (SB 961)  (Read 5925 times)
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Carl Failmezger

« on: February 01, 2003, 09:34:43 AM »

Russell Talcott and I visited all 22 of the House's Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee members (some aides) today, presenting our information and convincing many of them to vote for our bill; however many commercial watermen and their VMRC representatives have been lobbying to block our bill.  VMRC has also hired at least one professional lawyer lobbyist (with your tax dollars) to invent facts opposing our bill.
Their high level of effort shows their fear that our bill (only a 2 week ban) will succeed in increasing the crab population and reducing crab prices (their greatest worry).  Heaven forbid people may even be able to catch their own crabs again.  Our bill will work with your help.
Their lobbyist argues 1) the current level of crabs is sufficient and sustainable, although VIMS scientist Dr. Rom Lipcius's view is that the population must be 3 times the current level to be sustainable and avoid risk of failure, and 2) sponge crabs and their eggs immediately die when removed from the water and exposed to air.  The fact that millions of sponge crabs, which are released from Maryland (where the harvest of sponge crabs has been banned for 40 years), are caught near Tangier Island seems to dispute this speculative statement.  The current limited return policy on brown/black sponge crabs shows that VMRC does not believe its own lawyer's dubious rhetoric. Admittedly, if sponge crabs are removed from water for a longer period of time, the eggs would die.
The watermen have apparently given up some of their ridiculous past arguments:
1) More eggs does not mean more future crabs (VIMS proved direct correlation.)
2) Low crab populations are a cycle (VIMS proved 10 year averages are down 80%).
On Wednesday, our bill (SB 961) will be referred to Chesapeake subcommittee.  The larger Committee will probably follow the (Feb 6th) recommendation of the subcommittee:
Amundson, Kristen J.       [email protected]     (804) 698-1044

Bloxom, Robert S.          [email protected]       (804) 698-1000
Louderback, Allen L.        [email protected] (804) 698-1015

Miles, Floyd H., Sr.           [email protected]    (804) 698-1074
Suit, Terrie L.                [email protected]   (804) 698-1081

Ware, R. Lee, Jr.            [email protected]   (804) 698-1065

Bloxom opposes, Louderback and Miles seem to support, and other 3 are unknown. We need at least 1 of the undecideds to leave subcommittee, but 2 more votes gets the recommendation.  We are very close to passing our bill.
I have put in well over 1,000 hours of this project and ask for just 10 minutes of your time to restore the blue crab in the Bay by calling or emailing these 6 delegates, who are literally counting the number of people who call, write, or email to decide their vote.  Their count is very close.  The question for you: is the future of blue crabs worth 10 mintues of your time?
Please vote by contacting these delegates to support John Chichester's Senate Bill 961 and forward this email or print a copy and encourage friends to call or send emails.
Thanks for those very valuable 10 minutes.
Carl Failmezger
SBCF chairman
Carl Failmezger

« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2003, 09:35:40 AM »

I have been informed by VMRC that I was misinformed about the employer of the lawyer lobbyist.  Apparently, he was not hired by VMRC but by the Virginia Seafood Council.  My information was directly relayed to me by a legislative aide who had spoken with the lobbyist.

Sorry for the possible mistake.

Carl Failmezger
« Last Edit: February 01, 2003, 09:52:21 AM by Steve » Logged
Carl Failmezger

« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2003, 09:38:09 AM »

We were somewhat vindicated by another member (whose confidentiality shall be respected and who appears to know these lobbyists better than I do) in response to our first "correction" as follows:

"You were essentially right the first time. VMRC commissioner Chad Ballard is a leader and unpaid lobbyist for the Seafood Council. They run everything they do by Bill Pruitt first. Their official lobbyist is Jeff Smith who also  represent Chad's seafood business Cherystone Aquaculture. Jeff Smith has also been chief lobbyist for the menhaden industry for 10 years. The lines between all these things are very blurry......"

The legislative aide told us today that she had spoken with "VMRC lobbyist, Jeff Smith". She wanted to know if Mr. Smith's assertions were true, but his statements are false.

However, in my haste and excitement, I did slightly mistype the following:

"Russell Talcott and I visited all 22 of the House's Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee members (some aides) today"

My note should have said "Russell Talcott and I visited 21 of the 22 of the House's Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee members (some aides) today and one other Delegate."

Delegate A. Victor Thomas (committee member) hinted to us that he would follow Delegate Al Pollard's opinion.  We substituted Del. Pollard (not on the committee) for Del. Bloxom  (committee member), as time was short before the delegates went into their party caucuses.  Furthermore, in prior direct communication, Del. Pollard had expressed support, while  Del. Bloxom had expressed opposition (Tangier Island is in his district).  Del. Pollard gave us some helpful suggestions and offered his full support (we informed him of Thomas's reliance on his opinion).

Sorry for my mistake,

Carl Failmezger
« Last Edit: February 01, 2003, 09:51:43 AM by Steve » Logged

« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2003, 08:15:58 PM »

Hey, how did the legislation go?

Seeing as how this was posted a while ago I am assuming the legislation has already been completely voted on.

So what's happening?

What are the results?
Carl Failmezger

« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2003, 09:55:18 AM »

I am trying to schedule a meeting (1/2 hour) for the Save the Blue Crab Foundation which will be promptly by a Virginia Institute of Marine Science (Dr. Rom Lipcius and perhaps Jack Travelstead) presentation.  As some members who wish to attend but live outside of the northern neck, I am thinking of scheduling the meeting on a Friday for either March 21, 28, or April 4 at either 6:00 or 7:00 pm.
Please advise me if you plan to attend and if any of these dates or times are a problem.
Carl Failmezger


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