Regions Hampton Roads

Lawmakers seeking relief for watermen

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State lawmakers have petitioned Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to ask the federal government for economic assistance for watermen who will lose business during crab harvesting restrictions this year.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission passed a wave of new restrictions last week to protect the declining population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. They included ending the practice of “winter dredging,” a technique used to capture female crabs hibernating in the bay’s bottom. The commission also voted to close the season for harvesting female crabs a month early, Oct. 27 rather than Nov. 30.

Bay watermen have said the new restrictions may force them out of business, and lawmakers are asking Kaine to seek assistance for them through the Commerce Department’s Commercial Fisher Disaster Assistance program. Kaine’s spokesman told the Daily Press the governor is weighing options.


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