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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.

May 2015

May 26, 2015:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to stay the course in continuing to build blue crab stock abundance, maintaining daily bushel limits and only tinkering with crab sanctuary boundaries. However, the Commission decided to delay until fall a decision on whether to reopen the winter dredge fishery this year, in order for its crab management advisory committee to study how doing so would impact the other blue crab fisheries in this period of relatively low stock abundance.  [Commission Meeting Summary]

May 25, 2015: 
Upcoming Free Fishing Days Announced ! June 5, 6, and 7, 2015 have been designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in freshwater or saltwater, except in designated stocked trout waters, on these days. [Press Release

May 21, 2015 -- ATTENTION GILL NET LICENSEES: 
the Commission has had reports of the new metal tags being used to mark gill nets this year breaking off.  In some cases, the tags are being zip tied to the PVC flag staff using two of the holes on the tag on the short end of the metal tag – the connection is tight, but wave action apparently is flexing the metal plate until the metal tag breaks off at the corners.  Gill net licensees  should review the advisory at the following web link to see what alternatives they have for tag and license decal attachment.  [Gill Net Tag Advisory]

April 2015

April 30, 2015: 
Horseshoe crab closure announced:  it shall be unlawful for any valid horseshoe crab commercial general category permittee to possess aboard any vessel or to land any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 125 per day effective Sunset, Thursday, April 30, 2015. After Sunset, May 3, 2015, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia by gears other than trawl, dredge, pound net, or by hand shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.).[Closure Notice]

April 28, 2015:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today was briefed on a moderate increase in blue crab abundance in the Chesapeake Bay and agreed to hold a public hearing and vote in May on possible adjustments to the crab sanctuary boundaries and modifications to the peeler crab season. The stock has improved overall, but spawning-age females are not as high as they should be. In other action, the Commission revoked for two years the Virginia fishing licenses held by a Maryland resident who was caught illegally catching oysters in Virginia’s waters, and banned another waterman from the striped bass fishery for two years for egregious misuse of striped bass tags. [Meeting Summary]

April 27, 2015 ANNUAL WINTER DREDGE SURVEY - VMRC, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission jointly released today the results of the 2015 blue crab winter dredge survey which showed moderate improvement in the health of the stock, despite a cold winter that killed an inordinately large number of crabs. The survey is conducted annually by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. [ Press Release ]

April 23, 2015, A 606-pound bluefin tuna, caught on April 6, 2015 by Chase Robinson, of Virginia Beach, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Robinson’s catch surpasses the existing record of 573-pounds, caught in June of 2007 by Frederick “Bo” Haycox of Virginia Beach. [Press Release]

April 17, 2015, Attention Commercial and For-Hire Recreational Fishing industries: the State of Virginia is working on a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) funded project to develop site specific BMPs for the VA Wind Energy Area (WEA) and a Communication Strategy targeted to the Commercial and For-Hire Recreational Fishing industries to inform them of engagement opportunities and information relative to the VA WEA. We are seeking your participation in the upcoming April 21rst meeting from 6:30-7:30 PM at the VB Aquarium and Marine Science Center. This meeting is intended for the Commercial and Charter Fishing Industries only, focused efforts for the general recreational communities will commence in upcoming meetings.  If you have any questions about this meeting or project please contact Todd V. Janeski at tvjaneski@vcu.edu or 804.828.5258. [More on Offshore Wind Energy Fisheries Planning]

April 16, 2015: 
Accurate accounting of Trophy Striped Bass caught during the spring season is essential to maintaining this fishery. To this end, striped bass rules adopted in December 2014 require Virginia recreational saltwater fishermen participating in the Spring Trophy Season (May 1 – May 15 coastal and May 1- June 15 Bay and tribs; minimum size limit 36 inches) to obtain a no-cost permit. The permit is only required for trophy striped bass fishermen 16 or older and not fishing on a legally licensed headboat or charter boat. The new no-cost trophy permit can be obtained at VMRC license agents or can also be obtained by the fisherman directly via a new online process: [New Online No-Cost Permit Process] [VMRC License Agent Locations]. Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay and tributaries spring slot limit season opens May 16 and runs through June 15. During this period recreational anglers can keep two striped bass between 20 and 28 inches. However, anglers possessing a Trophy Striped Bass Permit may keep one trophy-sized striped bass (36 inches or greater) as one of their two-fish possession limit. [Striper Regulation Summary Card]

April 3, 2015:
Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Monday, April 6, 2015, the commercial directed 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 directed menhaden gill net quota, by Monday, April 6, 2015. Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EDST, April 6, 2015 it shall be unlawful 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 2015. [ Closure Notice ]

March 2015

March 26, 2015: Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Sunday, April 19, 2015, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close [ Closure Notice ]

March 24, 2015:  The Commission voted unanimously yesterday to roll back a license fee increase that was enacted in January because of a budget reduction. However, the new state budget passed several weeks ago gives the Virginia Marine Resources Commission sufficient funds to offset the budget reduction. As a result, the license increase is no longer necessary. While the new state budget goes into effect July 1, the Commission felt it was important to roll back the license increase now in order to save anglers money right away.  [License Fee Rollback] [March Commission Actions] [Letter to Commercial Industry on Striped Bass Size Limits]

March 24, 2015: Striped Bass rules adopted in December 2014 require Virginia saltwater fishermen participating in the Spring Trophy Season (May 1 – May 15 coastal and May 1- June 15 Bay and tribs) to obtain a no-cost permit. The permit is only required for trophy striped bass fishermen 16 or older and not fishing on a legally licensed headboat or charter boat. The new no-cost trophy permit can be obtained at VMRC license agents or can also be obtained by the fisherman directly via a new online process:  [New Online No-Cost Permit Process] [VMRC License Agent Locations]

March 19, 2015:
Notices regarding striped bass recreational fishing management options to be considered at the public hearing to be held at the Commission meeting on March 24th. [Management Options Letter] [Public Notice]

March 17, 2015:
Reminder for 2015 Blue Crab Bushel & Barrel Limits for the Commercial Crab Fishery

From March 17, 2015 through March 31, 2015, any harvester legally licensed for a crab pot license is limited to the following harvest and possession limits shown below:

1) 8 bushels, or 2 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 85 crab pots.
2) 10 bushels, or 3 barrels and 1 bushel, of crabs, if licensed for up to 127 crab pots.
3) 13 bushels, or 4 barrels and 1 bushel, of crabs, if licensed for up to 170 crab pots.
4) 21 bushels, or 7 barrels of crabs, if licensed for up to 255 crab pots.
5) 27 bushels, or 9 barrels of crabs, if licensed for up to 425 crab pots.

From April 1, 2015 through July 4, 2015, any harvester legally licensed for a crab pot license is limited to the following harvest and possession limits shown below:

1) 10 bushels, or 3 barrels and 1 bushel, of crabs, if licensed for up to 85 crab pots.
2) 14 bushels, or 4 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 127 crab pots.
3) 18 bushels, or 6 barrels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 170 crab pots.
4) 29 bushels, or 9 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 255 crab pots.
5) 47 bushels, or 15 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 425 crab pots.

Because some harvesters use barrels rather than bushels, the Commission defined a barrel to be equivalent in volume to no more than 3 bushels of crabs.

Bushel limits after July 4, 2015 will be established by the Commission during the spring of 2015. This spring time-table will allow the most up-to-date results of the 2014/2015 Bay-wide Winter Dredge Survey to be available to develop sustainable bushel limits.

March 12, 2015: Anglers Reel-in over 5000 Citations in 2014 ! Check out the 2014 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament closing press release for more statistics on trophy fish caught in 2014. [Closing Press Release] [Summary] [2014 Leading Entries] [Tournament Page]

March 6, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed [Notice]

February 2015

February 25, 2015:
Opening of Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery announced effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. [Notice]

February 24, 2015: 
The Commission agreed to extend the winter oyster season by almost two weeks because of snow and ice that have kept harvesters off the water for most of February. In other action the Commission suspended the sale of oyster hand scrape and dredge licenses until further notice in order to keep harvest levels from expanding from increased fishing effort. [Meeting Summary]

February 12, 2015: 
The Commission would like to remind commercial harvesters and buyers that 80 percent of the 51,104 pound commercial landings quota for speckled trout has been taken for the season that began on September 1, 2014 and will extend through August 31, 2015. It is unlawful, for any commercial fisherman registration licensee, to take, harvest, land or possess a daily bycatch limit of more than 100 pounds of speckled trout. That daily bycatch landing limit of speckled trout shall consist of at least an equal amount of other fish species.

January 2015

January 27, 2015:  The Commission revoked ten commercial watermen’s licenses for their court convictions of harvesting oysters from polluted waters. However, the Commission suspended the revocations of nine of those watermen and put them on probation for a year. Any natural resources violations during that probation period will result in the automatic loss of their licenses for up to two years. In other action the Commission approved $120,000 to build a public fishing pier on the York River in King and Queen County. [Meeting Summary]

January 21, 2015: 
In collaboration with VA Department of Environmental Quality and the Elizabeth River Project, researchers at Duke University are conducting a study to test red drum and speckled trout from the Elizabeth River for PCBs, a cancer-causing chemical found in soil and sediment in the James River Basin. To find out how you can donate red drum to the project and win a Yeti cooler, check out the ERP website here! (Finding PCBs in fish tissue will NOT cause closures of any fisheries, but may cause consumption advisories to be issued.) They are also interested in finding out more about fishing behavior and knowledge of fish consumption advisories for the Elizabeth River watershed. Completing this survey takes about 15 minutes and may help influence how future health advisories are communicated. Follow this link to the survey. For more information on this study, please contact the researchers at superfund@duke.edu

January 9. 2015: 
Recreational Summer Flounder fishing management alternatives for 2015 will be discussed at a public hearing on January 14, 2015 at 6:00 PM at the VMRC Headquarters, 2600 Washington Avenue, Newport News, Va. 23607, 4th Floor Commission Hearing Room. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries is leading this hearing to discuss regional management options for 2015 and a coast-wide or conservation equivalency option (FMP status quo). Coast-wide means uniform management across all 9 participating states, whereas conservation equivalency means that states could have the option to form voluntary regions or states could set state-specific regulations to constrain the state’s harvest to the state’s share of the Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL), which is based on the 1998 allocation. This procedure was in place from 1999 through 2013. In 2014 the ASMFC mandated regional management. Information for where to send written comments is included in the attached document. Contact Sally.Roman@mrc.virginia.gov for additional information. [2015 Summer Flounder Recreational Fishing Options]

January 7, 2015: 
The VIMS Virginia Marine Advisory Services is accepting proposals for the 2015 Fisheries Resource Research Grant program from January 5 through January 31, 2015. Grants are used to help those directly involved with fishing and aquaculture to undertake experiments and studies of innovative methods for enhancing or protecting fisheries in Virginia. For more information, see http://www.vims.edu/research/units/centerspartners/map/frg/ or contact Tom Murray at 804-684-7190 or tjm@vims.edu. [ 2015 Fisheries Research Grant Program]

January 5, 2015:
The Commission has added a web site feature that displays information regarding pending and complete permit applications submitted to our Habitat Management Division. For more recent projects you can view permit applications, the project status, a project description including dimensions, site photos and see an aerial photograph. This web feature will provide the public with easy way to access habitat permit application information and locations. [Habitat Management Permits and Applications Page] [Mobile Device Version]


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Recent Regulations

APRIL 2015

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"

REGULATION 4 VAC20-950-10 ET SEQ."PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1090-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND LICENSE FEES"

REGULATION 4 VAC20-1270-10 ET SEQ."PERTAINING TO ATLANTIC MENHADEN"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1280-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO FISHING LICENSE AND PRIVILEGE REVOCATIONS"

MARCH 2015

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-20-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE LICENSING OF FIXED FISHING DEVICES"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS"

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-720-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON OYSTER HARVEST"

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1090-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND LICENSE FEES"

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1280-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO FISHING LICENSE AND PRIVILEGE REVOCATIONS"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1290-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON THE HARVEST OF SHELLFISH IN CONDEMNED SHELLFISH AREAS"

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS" (effective 03/26/2015)

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS" (effective 03/30/2015)

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-751-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE SETTING AND MESH SIZE OF GILL NETS"

FEBRUARY 2015

REGULATION 4VAC20-270-10 ET SEQ. “PERTAINING TO CRABBING”  

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-450-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO TAKING OF BLUE FISH"

REGULATION 4VAC20-610-10 ET SEQ. “PERTAINING TO COMMERCIAL FISHING AND MANDATORY HARVEST REPORTING”  

REGULATION 4 VAC20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-720-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON OYSTER HARVEST"

JANUARY 2015

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC20-450-10 ET SEQ."PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF BLUEFISH"

REGULATION 4 VAC20-950-10 ET SEQ."PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"