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Note:  to see public notices for proposed regulatory actions, upcoming meeting dates and past meeting minutes use the Agency Meeting Calendar.

April 2014

April 14, 2014:  Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Tuesday, April 15, 2014, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close. Vessels that have entered Virginia waters and secured to an offloading site prior to 6:00 P.M., EDT, Tuesday, April 15, 2014, may possess and offload up to 5,000 pounds of summer flounder, minus any previous landings since April 1, 2014.  Based upon landing reports from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Virginia seafood buyers and VMRC Law Enforcement, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 85% of the First Period Offshore Quota of 1,411,960 pounds of Summer Flounder by the above date and time. <Notice>

April 4, 2014:  Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Monday, April 7, 2014, the commercial menhaden gill net fishery will be closed.  Based on landing reports from mandatory harvest reporting and Virginia seafood buyers, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the 1,521,108 pounds of the menhaden gill net quota, by Monday, April 7, 2014.  Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EDST, April 7, 2014 it shall be unlawful for any person to harvest or land more than 6,000 pounds of menhaden per day, for commercial purposes, by use of gill net in Virginia, for the remainder of 2014. <Notice>

March 2014

March 25, 2014:  After a contentious 4-hour public hearing, the Commission unanimously voted to deny authorization for a T-head or any slips at a pier proposed for the Rappahannock Cliffs subdivision located in Richmond County, approximately 10 miles upstream of the Town of Tappahannock, along a pristine section of the Rappahannock River known as Fones Cliff. The Commission also voted to close the recreational speckled trout through July and established a lower creel limit of 5 fish per angler and adopted other measures for the commercial fishery in response to the cold stun mortality experienced during this winter’s sudden polar vortex temperature drop.  The measures are intended to protect surviving fish and allow them to spawn and improve the stock. <Meeting Summary>

March 25, 2014:  Mid-Atlantic Council Hosts Workshop on East Coast Fisheries and Climate Change.  Last week the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council convened more than 70 fishery managers, scientists, policy makers, and other stakeholders in Washington, D.C. for a workshop on East Coast Climate Change and Fisheries Governance. The three-day event offered participants a platform to examine the flexibility of the existing fisheries management framework to address potential governance and management challenges that could arise as a result of climate change. <Press Release> <Workshop Information>

March 20, 2014:  Virginia saltwater anglers topped 6000 Citations for the second year in a row.  Anglers registered 6,167 trophy-size fish for Citation awards during the 56th Annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament that ran from January 1st through December 31st 2013.  This was the ninth time anglers had achieved 6,000 or more Citations in any year since the Tournament began in 1958 and the most since 2007. <Press Release> <Tournament Information>

February 2014

February 28, 2014:  Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the appointment of John M.R. Bull as Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  John Bull has been with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission since June 2007 and has been serving as Acting Commissioner since January 2014. In his career at the agency, he has been Director of Public Relations and Legislative Liaison and has worked closely with the agency’s many and varied constituent groups, the news media and the Virginia General Assembly and has been involved in all aspects of agency operations. Before joining the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter at eight different newspapers over the span of 23 years, most recently as an investigative reporter and Virginia General Assembly reporter for the Newport News Daily Press.  He is a journalism graduate of Penn State University.

February 26, 2014: 
NOAA Fisheries Service has announced the commercial quota and recreational harvest limits, for summer flounder, effective January 1, 2014. The coastwide summer flounder total allowable landings (TAL) are 19.07 million pounds.  The commercial summer flounder quota allotment is 11.73 million pounds. Virginia’s commercial quota, after subtracting the research set-aside amount, is 2,427,783 pounds. Virginia’s commercial summer flounder quota will be distributed, as described in Chapter 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq. "Pertaining to Summer Flounder," in the following notice: <Notice>

February 26, 2014:   The Commission ordered a sunken barge that has plagued the Town of Urbanna for almost two years removed by the owner within 31 days or he’ll face court enforcement action from the Office of Attorney General, which could include fines of up to $10,000 a day for non-compliance with the Commission’s orders.  Also, the recreational speckled trout fishery was closed as of March 1 in an emergency action to protect the stock in the wake of abnormal levels of cold-stuns and cold-kills due to the three-week polar vortex earlier this month.  This stock conservation action was taken at the request of a large number of recreational speckled trout anglers. <Meeting Summary>

February 19, 2014:  The Recreational Fishing Advisory Board will be combining its two spring meetings, originally scheduled for March 10th and May 12th, into a single meeting to be held on March 10th; decisions on first cycle project proposals will be made at the meeting.  <Meeting Notice>

February 11, 2014: 
A special meeting of the Tournament Committee of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament will be held Tuesday, February 18th at 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, 7 PM, in the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s meeting room, located on the fourth floor of the building.  The meeting was scheduled in response to a significant number of requests for the Committee to reconsider their decision, made during their annual meeting in November 2013, to eliminate the multiple tiers of the Master Angler Program as originally designed.  The multiple tier design was modeled after a similar and popular program run by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. <Notice>

January 2014

January 28, 2014: Dr. Bob Orth (VIMS) reported on the distribution and recovery efforts of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). SAV provides valuable habitat to a variety of species including the commercial important blue crab. Dr. Orth explained that water clarity and quality is a key to the reestablishment of SAV and has hampered restoration efforts in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Reestablishment efforts in the coastal bays have been extremely successful and may soon provide the necessary habitat to restore a bay scallop fishery. Dr. Orth anticipates water quality benefits will accrue from the new stormwater regulations and that will in turn benefit SAV distribution and the valuable fish habitats it supports. <Meeting Summary>

January 15, 2014: 
Commissioner Jack Travelstead retired from the Marine Resources Commission on January 10, 2014 after almost 33 years of outstanding service to the Commonwealth.  Commissioner Travelstead leaves behind an enduring legacy of fair and balanced marine resource management.  Mr. John M. R. Bull has been designated as the Acting Commissioner for the Marine Resources Commission effective January 13, 2014.  Mr. Bull has been with the agency since June 1, 2007 as the Director of Public Relations, and has been very involved in all aspects of Commission business.

December 2013

December 20, 2013:  Commission main office holiday schedule:  Closed Monday, Dec. 23 through Wednesday, Dec. 25, open Thursday, Dec. 26, Friday, Dec. 27, and Monday, Dec. 30 8AM-5PM.  Closed Tuesday, Dec. 31 after Noon and closed on Wednesday,  Jan. 1.  Open Thursday, Jan. 2, 8AM-5PM, Open Friday, Jan. 3, 8AM-3:30PM.  Resume normal office schedule on Monday, Jan. 6 (M-Th 8AM-5PM, Fri 8AM-2:30PM).

December 10, 2013:
  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to raise the size limit on eels used as bait by recreational anglers from six to nine inches, and to lower the possession limit from 50 to 25 eels per person per day.  The changes were required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission because the coast-wide eel stock is in poor shape and the species is being considered for listing as endangered.  The Commission also revoked the licenses of three watermen for either oyster violations or for failing to report their catch while on probation, and placed four other watermen on probation. <Meeting Summary>

November 2013

November 27, 2013:  Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Wednesday, November 27, 2013, the commercial purse seine menhaden reduction sector will close.  Based on Captain's Daily Fishing reports , it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the 286,396,768 pounds of allowable menhaden landings allocated to the purse seine menhaden reduction sector, by the above date and time.  See attached memorandum for further information. <Memorandum>

November 27, 2013:  Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Wednesday, December 4, 2013, it is projected that the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will have harvested 100% of the quota.  Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EST, Wednesday, December 4, 2013, it shall be unlawful for any person harvesting Summer Flounder outside of Virginia’s waters to land flounder in Virginia.  Please refer to the notice for more information and requirements. <Notice>

November 18, 2013:  Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that Virginia’s most recent oyster harvest has greatly exceeded recent years, reaching the highest level since 1987.  The 2012-2013 harvest of 406,000 bushels was also 60 percent greater than just one year prior.  The harvest boom came from both wild-caught oysters and from dramatically increased yields in oyster aquaculture operations on privately leased water bottoms. <Press Release>

November 18, 2013:  The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission releases its Draft Strategic Plan for 2014 – 2018 for public review and comment.  The Draft Plan revises the Commission’s long-term vision to “Sustainably Managing Atlantic Coastal Fisheries” and proposes seven major goals and related strategies to pursue this vision.  The Strategic Plan will guide the Commission’s activities over the next five years and will be implemented through Annual Action Plans.

Public comment must be received by January 10, 2014, 5:00 PM EST and should be forwarded to Deke Tompkins, Legislative Assistant, at 1050 N. Highland, Suite 200A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703-842-0741 (fax) or (Subject line: Strategic Plan).  The Commission is scheduled to take action on the final Plan in February at its Winter Meeting in Alexandria, VA. <Draft Strategic Plan>

November 12, 2013:  Governor Bob McDonnell has appointed James Close of Mathews to the board of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Mr. Close is a commercial waterman, and will hold the seat designated to represent commercial watermen.  He will serve a four-year term.  He replaces former Associate Commissioner Joseph Palmer, who passed away in July.

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