Skip to Content
Agencies | Governor
Search Virginia.Gov
Contact Us |

Agency News

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

July 2014

July 29, 2014: The Virginia recreational and commercial hook-and-line speckled trout fisheries reopen on August 1, 2014. Beginning August 1, it will be legal for any person fishing commercially, with commercial hook and line gear, or recreationally, with any gear type, to possess up to 5 speckled trout, in any one day. These seasons have been closed from March 1 through July 31, 2014, as a response to conserve the stock that suffered large mortality rates this past winter from cold stun events.  In addition to the 5-fish possession limit, there is a 14 inch minimum size limit. Of the 5-fish possession limit, only one speckled trout, 24 inches or greater, can be possessed, in any one day, for persons fishing with commercial hook and line gear, or fishing recreationally with any gear type.

July 22, 2014:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today unanimously revoked the commercial fishing licenses of four watermen who were convicted in court of egregious or repeated violations of the fishing laws. The license revocations were for two years, the most allowed under the Code of Virginia. In doing so, the Commission signaled it has no tolerance for watermen who flaunt the fishing laws. One of the violations that resulted in a license revocation was especially offensive: running an illegal, un-inspected oyster shucking operation and harvesting oysters despite having a license that was revoked last year by the Commission. [Meeting Summary] [Press Release]

July 21, 2014: 
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia’s oyster harvest jumped another 25 percent last year, surging past 500,000 bushels, the most in nearly a generation. [Press Release]

July 16, 2014: 
Shellfish training dates announced; the National Shellfish Sanitation Program guidelines now require training and education programs for all shellfish harvesters and certified dealers. This training program is currently being implemented in Virginia and is now required for all 2015 shellfish permits and licenses with Virginia Marine Resource Commission (VMRC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Division of Shellfish Sanitation (DSS). The training is free and will be required every two years in Virginia. Completion of the training is a pre-requisite for licensing. The intent is to increase the awareness of temperature control and food handling practices for shellfish to minimize growth of Vibrio bacteria. [Notice]

June 2014

June 27, 2014:
The National Marine Fisheries Service published a Final, Federal Rule amending the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP). The plan is intending reduce the risk of serious injury, entanglement, and deaths of large whales (North Atlantic right, humpback, and fin) caused by accidental entanglement in U.S. commercial trap (pot) and gillnet fishing gear. In the Mid-Atlantic, the plan increases the size and frequency of the current gear marking scheme for both trap (pot) and gillnet fisheries. The ALWTRP impacts all gillnet and all trap (pot) fisheries in Virginia, east of the COLREGS line. The gear marking and gear modification requirements in the Mid-Atlantic are effective August 26, 2014. The current and new gear marking scheme requires fishermen to mark their trap (pot) and gillnet buoy lines with three 12 inch (30.48cm), colored marks: one at the top of the buoy; one midway along the buoy line; and, one at the bottom of the buoy line. <Fisheries Bulletin> <Press Release>

June 27, 2014:
  Governor McAuliffe today appointed Chad Ballard III of Norfolk and John E. Zydron of Chesapeake to four-year terms on the board of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Mr. Ballard is the President of Ballard Fish & Oyster Company in Cheriton, located on the Eastern Shore.  It is one of the most successful shellfish aquaculture operations in Virginia.  He also sits on the boards of the Virginia Aquaculture Advisory Board, the Shellfish Growers of Virginia, and the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.  He is a former investment banker.  Mr. Zydron is the managing general partner of the law firm of Bennett and Zydron in Virginia Beach.  He also is a recreational charterboat captain, and a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officer.  He served with the Virginia National Guard after 32.5 years of service, retiring from the position of the Virginia State Judge Advocate General.  He also served as a JAG officer, a military judge, an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Norfolk, and was a long-time substitute judge for the Virginia General District Courts.  He retired with the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army and with the rank of Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia-Unorganized.  He received numerous awards, honors and decorations for his service.  Mr. Ballard replaces Eastern Shore resident Ed Tankard on the nine-member Commission, and Mr. Zydron replaces attorney Bryan Plumlee of Virginia Beach.

June 26, 2014:  Effective 12:00 P.M. (Noon) eastern daylight-savings time (EDT), Friday, June 27, 2014, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial pound net fishery for horseshoe crabs will close.  Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and horseshoe crab harvesters, it is projected that Virginia will achieve 100% of the horseshoe crab quota allocated to be harvested by Virginia Horseshoe Crab Pound Net Permittees, by the above date and time.  Therefore, after 12:00 P.M. (Noon) EDT on Friday, June 27, 2014, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia by gears other than trawl shall be prohibited. (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.). <Press Release>

June 24, 2014:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to reduce the female blue crab harvest by 10 percent over the next year because a variety of environmental factors has depleted the stock.  The harvest cuts are aimed at bolstering the number of spawning age females and to conserve more of the current juveniles from harvest when they reach market size in the fall and next spring so they can spawn a larger generation of crabs next year.  The Commission also closed the winter crab dredge fishery for the seventh year in a row. <Meeting Summary><Blue Crab Press Release>

June 11, 2014:  Effective 12:00 P.M. (Noon) eastern daylight-savings time (EDT), Thursday, June 12, 2014, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial hand harvest fishery will close.  Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and horseshoe crab harvesters, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the horseshoe crab quota allocated to be harvested by Virginia Horseshoe Crab Hand Harvest Permittees, by the above date and time.  Therefore, after 12:00 P.M. (Noon) EDT on Thursday, June 12, 2014, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia by gears other than trawl or pound net shall be prohibited. (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.). <Press Release>

June 6, 2014:  It is projected that 80% of the horseshoe crab commercial pound net quota has been taken.  For that reason, it shall be unlawful for any valid horseshoe crab commercial pound net permittee to possess aboard any vessel or to land more than 250 horseshoe crabs per day, effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Friday, June 6, 2014.  Therefore, after Friday, June 6, 2014 at 6:00 P.M., EDT, Horseshoe Crab Commercial Pound Net Permittees will be limited to possess aboard any vessel or land more than 250 horseshoe crabs per day. (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.). <Notice>

May 2014

May 30, 2014: Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a $500,000 grant from The Nature Conservancy to support the construction of a large-scale oyster sanctuary in the Piankatank River near Fishing Bay in Middlesex County, a project aimed at bolstering oyster stocks throughout the river. <Press Release> <Photos>

May 28, 2014: 
You may fish without a license during the second weekend in June.  Take advantage of the free fishing days, June 6, 7, and 8, 2014 and enjoy the great outdoors with your family and friends without having to spend money for a fishing license. <Press Release>

May 27, 2014:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission signaled its intention to cut the female blue crab harvest by 10 percent to boost a stock that is depleted due to poor reproduction, predation from other species and a long, cold winter that killed more than 28 percent of adult crabs in Maryland.  The Commission today unanimously agreed to hold a public hearing and vote at the end of June. <Meeting Summary>

May 12, 2014:  Effective 12:00 A.M., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Thursday, May 15, 2014, the 2014 Scup Summer Period, that allocates quota to be harvested between May 1, 2014 and October 31, 2014, will close.  Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and the National Marine Fisheries Service, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the Scup Summer Period Quota by the above date and time.  Therefore, after 12:00 A.M. on May 15, 2014, the possession or landing of scup (porgy) in Virginia by any commercial gear shall be prohibited.  In addition, it shall be unlawful for any buyer of seafood to receive scup until the Winter II season opens on November 1, 2014. (Chapter 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq.). <Notice>

May 12, 2014:  Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Day Light Time (EDT), Tuesday, May 13, 2014, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial dredge fishery will close.  Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and horseshoe crab harvesters, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the horseshoe crab quota allocated to be harvested by Virginia Horseshoe Crab Dredge Permittees, by the above date and time. Therefore, after 6:00 P.M EDT on May 13, 2014, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia by gears other than trawl, pound net, or hand harvest shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.). <Notice>

May 10, 2014:  It is projected that 80% of the horseshoe crab commercial dredge quota has been taken.  For that reason, it shall be unlawful for any valid horseshoe crab commercial class A dredge permittee to possess aboard any vessel or to land more than 1,250 horseshoe crabs per day, effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Saturday, May 10, 2014.   Horseshoe Crab Commercial Dredge Class B Permittees will be limited to possess aboard any vessel or land more than 500 horseshoe crabs per day, effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Saturday, May 10, 2014.  Therefore, after Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 6:00 P.M., EDT, Horseshoe Crab Commercial Dredge Class A Permittees will be limited to possess aboard any vessel or land more than 1,250 horseshoe crabs per day.  Horseshoe Crab Commercial Dredge Class B Permittees will be limited to possess aboard any vessel or land more than 500 horseshoe crabs per day (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.). <Notice>

May 1, 2014: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today released the disappointing results of 2014 blue crab winter dredge survey, which showed the abundance of spawning-age female crabs dropped to just below the minimum safe level of 70 million and are in a depleted state. While juvenile crab numbers increased and last year’s harvest remained at a safe level (under the target fishing removal rate) for the sixth consecutive year, the total abundance of crabs remains comparatively low, at approximately 297 million. Management actions will be considered in the upcoming months. <Press Release>

April 2014

April 29, 2014:  It is projected that 80% of the horseshoe crab commercial general category quota has been taken.  For that reason, 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 6:00 P.M.  Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Tuesday, April 29, 2014.  Therefore, after Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 6:00 P.M., EDT, Horseshoe Crab General Category Permittees will be limited to possess aboard any vessel or land more than 125 horseshoe crabs per day, (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.). <Notice>

April 28, 2014:  The National Marine Fisheries Service has published in the Federal Register a proposed rule amending the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan to reduce bottlenose dolphin serious injuries and mortalities in VA pound nets. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) proposes to amend the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan (BDTRP) and its implementing regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The amendment is needed to reduce incidental serious injury and mortality of strategic stocks of bottlenose dolphins in Virginia pound net fishing gear, and to provide consistent state and federal regulations for Virginia pound net fishing gear. This rule proposes the year-round use of modified pound net leaders for offshore Virginia pound nets in specified waters of the lower mainstem Chesapeake Bay and coastal state waters. Virginia pound net-related definitions, gear prohibitions, and non-regulatory measures are also proposed. Both regulatory and non-regulatory measures proposed in this rule are based on the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Team's (BDTRT) consensus recommendations. The proposed rule and accompanying draft Environmental Assessment examining the biological, economic, and social impacts that may result from the issuance of this proposed rule are available at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/interactions/trt/bdtrp.htm. Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal and mail, as specified in the proposed rule. The comment period closes on June 2, 2014.  [Proposed Rule]

April 23, 2014: 
The Commission voted unanimously to revoke all fishing licenses of a commercial waterman for a period of two years from the date of his conviction for illegally harvesting oysters from an oyster sanctuary area in the James River.  Oyster sanctuaries serve to protect brood stock that are critical to the continued recovery of oyster populations.  The Commission also voted unanimously to establish the 2014 recreational season for black sea bass as May 19 through September 18 and October 18 through December 31 and a possession limit of 15 fish.  The minimum size remains at 12.5 inches total length. <Meeting Summary>

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. The Commission voted unanimously to revoke all fishing licenses of a commercial waterman for a period of two years from the date of his conviction for illegally harvesting oysters from an oyster sanctuary area in the James River. Oyster sanctuaries serve to protect brood stock that are critical to the continued recovery of oyster populations. The Commission also voted unanimously to establish the 2014 recreational season for black sea bass as May 19 through September 18 and October 18 through December 31 and a possession limit of 15 fish. The minimum size remains at 12.5 inches total length. <Press Release>

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.


Return to Top

Virginia Marine Resources Commission - Copyright © 1996-2014
Questions or Comments?  Email Web-Info
Site Index  Privacy Policy

Agency News Archive

Agency News 2005
Agency News 2006
Agency News 2007
Agency News 2008
Agency News 2009
Agency News 2010
Agency News 2011
Agency News 2012
Agency News 2013

Recent Regulations

JULY 2014

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

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

JUNE 2014

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-910-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SCUP (PORGY)"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1140-10 ET SEQ. “PROHIBITION OF CRAB DREDGING IN VIRGINIA WATERS”  

MAY 2014

REGULATION 4 VAC20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"  

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-910-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SCUP (PORGY)"

APRIL 2014

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-950-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"   

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1230-10 ET SEQ. “PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON SHELLFISH”

MARCH 2014

REGULATION 4 VAC20-280-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SPECKLED TROUT AND RED DRUM" 

REGULATION 4 VAC20-510-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO AMBERJACK AND COBIA"

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-900-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO HORSESHOE CRAB"   

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-950-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"   

FEBRUARY 2014  

REGULATION 4 VAC20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"  

JANUARY 2014

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-260-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO DESIGNATION OF SEED AREAS AND CLEAN CULL AREAS"