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Commissioner, John M.R. Bull

Commissioner’s Message

Welcome to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  We serve as stewards of the Commonwealth’s marine and aquatic resources, and protectors of its tidal waters and homelands, for present and future generations.

We manage saltwater fishing, both recreational and commercial.  We work to create and maintain sustainable fisheries for the benefit of all anglers and the ecosystem.

We also manage water bottoms in public trust for the citizens of the Commonwealth.  Our Habitat Management Division works with those who wish to use them for piers or water-dependent projects.

Our Law Enforcement Division, the Virginia Marine Police, patrols the waterways to enforce the regulations and to assist citizens in need.

We take our duties seriously, striving always to serve the public in a professional, responsive and responsible way.

Please join us as protectors of our critical natural resources so that they remain for our children and grandchildren to enjoy them as we do.


Important Links

VMRC Regulations

Recreational Fishing Rules

Anglers Guide

What We Do


Agency News

July 25, 2017: The Commission board voted unanimously today to rescind an increase in commercial license fees that was scheduled for December. The fees have not increased in at least 12 years. In other action, the board agreed to reconsider the sanctions levied against individuals whose licenses are revoked as of July 25, 2017 due to court convictions for egregious natural resources violations. The board may, or may not, reduce the punishment but is willing to hear from these offenders at future board meetings if they put their reconsideration request in writing to the Commissioner. The board also set the crab season and bushel limits for this fall and next spring. [Meeting Summary]

July 25, 2017:  The U.S. Coast Guard today honored Virginia Marine Master Police Officer Richard W. Pruitt of Tangier for his “vital assistance” in the investigation of the sinking of a commercial fishing vessel in April, which resulted in the death of a Tangier Island waterman and the rescue of his son. [Press Release]


July 14, 2017: 
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) is increasing the retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management groups for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 3 to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip as of July 16, 2017. [NMFS Notice]

July 13, 2017:  A 58-pound golden tilefish, caught on June 27, 2017 by Joshua Jung of Virginia Beach, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record for the species by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. The record-setting tilefish measured 47.5 inches (TL) and the roe-laden female sported a 32-1/4-inch girth. [Press Release]

July 7, 2017: 
The Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Sanitation, is more actively monitoring and announcing openings and closures for selected conditional shellfish harvest areas.  For the most timely notifications related to these areas, harvesters should contact Daniel Powell or Eric Aschenbach at VDH ((804-864-7480; Daniel.Powell@vdh.virginia.gov; eric.aschenbach@vdh.virginia.gov) to subscribe to their text/email alert system or use the following VDH web site that also posts the notifications.  [VDH Notices for Conditional Shellfish Harvest Areas]

June 30, 2017:
Governor McAuliffe has reappointed Ken Neill to another four-year term on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission board, and has appointed Christy Everett to a four-year term. She is from Norfolk, and is the Virginia Assistant and Hampton Roads Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

June 27, 2017:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission board today voted to return the fall crab season closure date to Nov. 30, and to institute reduced possession limits for the entire month of November, as well as to return next spring’s season opening date to March 17. This was done to conserve juvenile crabs so more survive to spawn next year. Overall stock abundance has grown over the past three years, as has the crab harvest, but the fourth lowest recorded level of juvenile crabs dictated a cautious approach this year. In other action, the board approved, with conditions, the construction of electric line towers across the James River downriver from Jamestown in order to meet the Peninsula’s future energy needs. [Meeting Summary]

June 16, 2017:
Governor McAuliffe has appointed Heather Lusk of Quinby on the Eastern Shore to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission board. Mrs. Lusk is the vice president of HM Terry Co. Inc., a large, century-old oyster and clam operation on the Eastern Shore. She is a Virginia Tech graduate with a law degree from Michigan State.

June 12, 2017:  Effective Noon, Monday, June 12, 2017, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial hand harvest fishery will close.  [Notice]

June 1, 2017: 
Effective Sunset, Friday, June 2, 2017, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial dredge gear fishery will close. [Notice]

May 31, 2017: 
2017 Recreational Cobia Fishing Information

The 2017 recreational cobia season will be open from June 1st through September 15th. The minimum size is 40 inches, total length (tip to tail). The possession limit is one per person, but there will be a 3-fish vessel limit when three or more anglers are on board, and only one of those may be over 50 inches, total length. Gaffing remains prohibited for recreational cobia fishing.

Anyone fishing recreationally for cobia in Virginia’s waters must be properly permitted. When fishing from a private or for-hire vessel, only the captain needs to have the permit, and everyone on board will be covered under that permit. For those fishing from shore, a pier, or a single-person kayak, each angler must be individually permitted.

All cobia caught recreationally, whether kept or released, must be reported through the Virginia Saltwater Journal website (vasaltwaterjournal.com), or using paper forms provided by the VMRC. Captains of private or for-hire vessels will report for everyone on board. If cobia are caught on a trip (kept or released), that trip must be reported within 7 days of the trip occurring. If no cobia are caught on a trip, that trip must be reported by 15 days after the season’s closing. If a permitted angler does not take any cobia trips in 2017, a report of "no activity" must be submitted to the VMRC by 15 days after the season’s closing. For more on reporting see our Recreational Harvest Reporting FAQ.

Permits are free and can be obtained online at mrc.virginia.gov by clicking the "Rec Species Permits" link under the "Recreational Fishing" picture. They can also be obtained in-person at any MRC Licensing Agent. Please visit mrc.virginia.gov/mrcagents.shtm to see a list of agents and their locations.


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