January 3, 2017: The agency has reconfigured the boundaries of the oyster sanctuaries in the Rappahannock River by the Norris bridge. The new boundaries give watermen a substantial transit area of roughly three-quarters of a mile when going past the bridge in the mainstem of the river. This is being done so no one will inadvertently risk crossing the sanctuaries with dredge gear when going to or from designated harvest areas. Here is a new map of the area. [Sanctuary Boundary Map]
December 27, 2016: States Seek Input on 2017 Recreational Summer Flounder Fishery Management. A notice from ASMFC [here]
December 22, 2016: The VMRC will be closed Friday, December 23rd and Monday December 26 for the Holidays.
December 21, 2016: NOAA Fisheries Announces Revised Summer Flounder and Black Sea Bass Catch Limits [Info here]
December 21, 2016: Mid-Atlantic Council Initiates Action in Response to Overage of Black Sea Bass Catch Limit [Press release here]
December 21, 2016: A Holidays notice regarding oysters from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission [Press release here].
December 13, 2016: The Commission board today voted unanimously to raise commercial harvest license and gear use fees for the first time in 12 years. This was done to preserve core agency services in the face of a 7.5 percent budget cut. The increases will take effect in December of 2017. The increases were capped at either $5 or the rate of inflation since the last time a particular gear fee was established or raised. Some gear fees had not been increased since the 1990s and a few had remained unchanged since 1979. In other action, the board voted to require recreational anglers to file catch reports in 2017 for Cobia, Grouper, Tilefish and Striped Bass during the spring trophy fishery, in an effort to improve catch and effort data to benefit those fisheries. [Meeting Summary]
November 17, 2016: Notice: the toll free operator assisted FIP
registration service has been discontinued due to budget constraints. All
anglers required to register in FIP must register for themselves online, or have
someone do their FIP registration for them using the "Register Online" button at
the following web link:
November 3, 2016: Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Thursday, November 10, 2016, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will re-open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. [Notice]
November 2, 2016: Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced November is Virginia Oyster Month in the Commonwealth. The month of November is an excellent opportunity for visitors and Virginians to experience fresh wild-caught and farm-raised oysters from Virginia's eight different oyster regions, as well as participate in the numerous oyster festivals and events across the state. [Governor's Press Release]
November 1, 2016: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission board today revoked the licenses of seven commercial watermen, most of them after being videotaped by the Virginia Marine Police and convicted in court of poaching oysters from a sanctuary in the Rappahannock River. The revocation periods ranged from one month to five years, based on the degree of culpability and their histories of natural resources violations. [Meeting Summary | Offender News Release]
October 26, 2016: The VDH has rescinded Emergency Closure # 070-025A “Lynnhaven, Broad and Linkhorn Bays” in the city of Virginia Beach. [VDH Notices]
October 20, 2016: The VDH has revised Emergency Closure # 070-025A “Lynnhaven, Broad and Linkhorn Bays” in the city of Virginia Beach. VDH has also rescinded Closure #059O along the Peninsula side of the James River, Closure # 054-021H “Back River” in the cities of Hampton and Poquoson, and Closure # 063-008A “Nansemond River”. Refer to the VDH notice for more information. [VDH Notices]
October 19, 2016: Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Friday, October 21, 2016, the commercial menhaden pound net fishery will close [Notice]
October 14, 2016: The
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is reducing 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 45 to 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip as of 11:30 p.m.
local time on October 19, 2016. Accordingly, and pursuant to
Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "Pertaining to Sharks", it shall
be unlawful for any person to possess on board a vessel or to land in Virginia
more than a combined total of 25 commercially permitted aggregated large coastal
sharks and commercially permitted hammerhead sharks in one twenty-four hour
period as of 11:30 p.m. on October 19, 2016. [NMFS
October 12, 2016: The VDH has announced the following emergency closures due to localized flooding and to sewage spills associated with the remnants of Hurricane Matthew: Closure # 070-025A “Lynnhaven, Broad and Linkhorn Bays” in the city of Virginia Beach, Closure #059O along the Peninsula side of the James River, Closure # 054-021H “Back River” in the cities of Hampton and Poquoson, Closure # 063-008A “Nansemond River”. All emergency closures are in effect until the end of October. The Division of Shellfish Sanitation will be conducting monitoring of seawater and shellfish to determine if the areas can safely be opened sooner. [VDH Notices]
October 4, 2016: Here is a reminder: You must possess a Commercial Registration License (CRL) in order to sell what you catch in tidal waters. This applies to any species. While some shrimp have been landed in recent weeks, recreational anglers are reminded that anyone holding a valid saltwater recreational fishing license may use a cast net, if the angler does not hold a paid recreational license then use of a cast net requires a license. Commercial watermen are reminded that trawling is prohibited in Virginia waters.
September 27, 2016: The Commission board today decided to make
no regulation changes recommended by a work group that extensively studied user
conflicts with shellfish aquaculture cages in the Lynnhaven River and its
tributaries in Virginia Beach and lifted a nine-month moratorium on the issuance
of new shellfish leases in the area. [Meeting
September 26, 2016: VDH has posted information regarding recent harmful algal blooms in lower York and lower James Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. [VDH Notice]
July 26, 2016: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission decided today to hold a public hearing in August to set the 2016-2017 public oyster harvest season and management measures and to consider ways to reduce participation in the public oyster fishery, either immediately or over time. The number of oyster harvesters has grown substantially in recent years and the stocks cannot continue to support this increased fishing pressure. In other action, the Commission revoked the licenses of two watermen for egregious violations of natural resource conservation regulations. [Meeting Summary]
July 21, 2016: Dr. Robert J. Orth of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science produced a video about Seagrass. Dr. Orth's research focuses on the biology and ecology of seagrasses, principally in the Chesapeake Bay. [View it here]
July 19, 2016: Governor McAuliffe Celebrates Improving Water Quality and Land Conservation [Notice]
July 19, 2016: The Lynnhaven River Oyster Work Group is scheduled to meet on July 15 at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia beginning at 9:30 AM and ending at 12:00 noon. The Brock Environmental Center is located at 3663 Marlin Bay Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455. The meeting is open to the public.
The Group will meet again on July 29, 2016 at the Virginia Beach Tidewater Community College campus in the Student Center, Room K-304, from 9 AM until approximately 2:00 PM. The Student Center is located at the campus at 1700 College Crescent, Virginia Beach, VA 23453. Parking for this meeting will be available behind the Virginia Beach Building (G). The meeting is open to the public.
July 11, 2016: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
(SAFMC) will hold a public hearing/scoping meeting related to cobia on August 9,
2016 at 6:00 PM at the Hilton Virginia Beach, 3001 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia
Beach, VA 23451. The SAFMC will also be sponsoring additional meetings and
webinars between August 1 and August 17 to collect public input on proposed
management measures for several species managed by the Council. For details on
meeting locations, webinar registration, amendment documents/presentations, and
instructions on how to submit written comments, visit the Council's website. [SAFMC
July 8, 2016: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 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 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip as of July 15, 2016. This adjustment is intended to promote equitable fishing opportunities in the Atlantic region, while allowing majority of quota to be harvested later in the year. All other retention limits and shark fisheries remain unchanged in the Atlantic region. [NMFS Notice]
July 1, 2016: Effective 7/1/16, the Commission's recreational 5 crab pot license, has been replaced by two new licenses, a $36 recreational 5 crab pot license that requires use of a terrapin excluder device, and a $46 recreational 5 crab pot license that does not require an excluder. Recreational crab potters should visit the following link to learn more about the new licenses and the efforts to conserve terrapins by installing excluder devices. [New 5 Crab Pot Licenses Effective 7/1/16]
June 23, 2016: MRIP released a final 2015 harvest recreational landings estimate, 3.96 million pounds, for black sea bass. This estimate is 1.63 million pounds over the coastwide (NH – NC) harvest limit (2.33 million pounds). The preliminary 2015 harvest estimate of 3.52 million pounds would have necessitated a 23.2% reduction for 2016. Based on the final estimate, a larger reduction must be taken in order to remain below the 2016 harvest limit. Now, the necessary coastwide reduction is 28.9%. The ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Technical Committee met via conference call on June 23 to discuss possible management measures to meet the reduction, and to draft recommendations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board. For a number of years, Delaware through North Carolina have followed federal waters measures, and landings of black sea bass from these states have not contributed to the persistent overages of the coastwide recreational harvest limit. That limit has been exceeded each year since 2010, except for 2011, and reduction measures have been assumed by states north of Delaware. Additional details will be provided as the ASMFC process unfolds.
June 14, 2016: Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of a new regulation pertaining to Establishment of Restricted Area – Maritime Administration James River Reserve Fleet [Notice]
June 10, 2016: Effective Noon, Sunday, June 12, 2016, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial hand harvest fishery will close. [Notice]
June 1, 2016: At its May meeting, the Commission voted to extend the
recreational cobia fishing season in Virginia waters to August 30, 2016, with a
one fish per person limit and a two fish daily vessel limit only when two
fishermen or more are aboard any vessel, for all recreational fishing vessels
including for-hire (charter and head boats). The minimum size was increased to
40" total length with only one of the two fish vessel limit allowed to exceed
50" total length. There will also be a prohibition on gaffing. The Commission
voted for a mandatory reporting system in 2017 for recreational and charter boat
cobia catch (harvested and released fish). The Commission also agreed to a start
a pilot, voluntary program for cobia permitting and reporting in 2016 for both
recreational and for-hire cobia fishermen, which is now available. Cobia anglers
are encouraged to participate, as more specific information about cobia fishing
in Virginia has the potential to be used in the regional fishery management
processes that are directing cobia management along the East Coast. Visit the
following web links to learn more about the new no-cost cobia permits, harvest
reporting, and harvest regulations. [New
Online No-Cost Cobia Permits |
Harvest Reporting using the SWJ |
SWJ Mobile |
Cobia Harvest Reporting using CBOR |
General Saltwater Fishing Regulations (scroll down for cobia info) |
Cobia Regulation 4 VAC 20-510 |
Reporting Forms |
Cobia Harvest Reporting FAQ]
May 18, 2016:Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the commercial directed menhaden gill net fishery will close. [Notice]
May 17, 2016:Effective Sunset, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial dredge gear fishery will close. [Notice]
May 11, 2016: Landing limit reduction for the 2016 Virginia horseshoe crab dredge fishery effective 12:00 P.M. (noon) Wednesday, May 11, 2016 [Notice] and Closure of Virginia’s 2016 scup summer period [Notice]
May 6, 2016: The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s
Coastal Sharks Management Board approved Draft Addendum IV to the Interstate
Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Coastal Sharks for public comment. The purpose
of the Draft Addendum is to maintain consistency between federal and state FMPs,
where possible, and to better incorporate into state regulations the intent of
the limited fins-attached exception for smooth dogfish in the Shark Conservation
Act of 2010. VMRC will not hold a public hearing on this addendum,
but anyone can make recommendations by contacting Ashton Harp, Fishery
Management Plan Coordinator, at 703.842.0740 or email@example.com. [ASMFC
May 3, 2016: Effective Sunset, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, the Virginia horseshoe crab general category permit commercial fishery will close. [Closure Notice]
April 26, 2016: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted
to hold a public hearing at the May 24, 2016 Commission meeting on the 2016
Cobia recreational fishery. The Commission proposes to amend Chapter 4 VAC
20-510-10 et seq., to establish amendments to this regulation, for the 2016
Virginia recreational cobia fishery, that include but are not limited to
increases in the minimum size limit (currently 37 inches total length);
establishment of a boat limit (currently there is no boat limit, but there is a
one fish possession limit); establishment of variable fishing seasons;
establishment of a prohibition on gaffing cobia; and, establishment of a closure
of Virginia waters to recreational cobia harvest and possession, once federal
waters are closed to recreational harvest and possession of cobia. [Meeting Summary]
April 15, 2016: Lynnhaven River Oyster Workgroup information: At the January, 2016 Commission meeting a motion was approved to create a workgroup to study user conflict issues associated with aquaculture activities and other uses of the waters within the Lynnhaven River system. Members were appointed by the VMRC Commissioner, John Bull and the first meeting was held on Friday, April 15, 2016 at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach. This meeting was organizational in nature. After a brief introduction by the Commissioner and a brief statement from each workgroup member on their particular interest in the matter VMRC staff provided a brief history of leasing, how the program works and some current leasing statistics for the entire state of the Lynnhaven River system. Questions were taken from the workgroup and the public. The group agreed to meet again in May and the proposed meeting dates, times and location will be posted on the Agency Meetings Calendar as soon as the date is set. [Presentation from the initial workgroup meeting]
April 13, 2016: VDH Emergency Shellfish Condemnation #
054-021G “Back River” has been rescinded effective April 13, 2016.
Sampling conducted by the Division of Shellfish Sanitation in Back River has
determined those waters condemned by the emergency closure can safely be
reopened. All waters have now returned to their prior classification.
April 12, 2016: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today released the results of the 2016 blue crab winter dredge survey, which shows another year of growth in the stock and forecasts an improved harvest in 2016. The total population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay climbed 35 percent to a total of 553 million, and builds on last year’s 38 percent boost in abundance. The spawning female stock almost doubled, while the adult male stock more than doubled. These are the second highest levels recorded since 1995 and bode well for a good crab harvest this year. Still, this level of spawning age female crabs remains below the scientifically recommended target of 215 million. Juvenile abundance increased only slightly, and remains just above the average level of juveniles recorded over the past almost 30 years of the winter dredge survey. [Press Release]
April 7, 2016: A public hearing on cobia fishery issues has been pushed back until the Commission’s May 24 meeting in order to provide additional time to conduct data analysis and other research on potential size limit and vessel limit changes, combined with regional management approaches with other states, that may extend the recreational cobia fishing season. Another Finfish Management Advisory Committee meeting will be held on April 18 to discuss new information that pertains to the cobia fishery and the pending June 20 closure of the cobia fishery in federal waters by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
April 5, 2016: VDH announces emergency closure -- due to a sewage spill into Back River in the cities of Hampton and Poquoson, emergency Shellfish Closure # 054-021G “Back River” has been issued effective April 5, 2016 through April 26, 2016. The Division of Shellfish Sanitation will be conducting monitoring of seawater and shellfish to determine if the area can safely be opened sooner. Details may be found through a link available on the Division’s home page: [http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/EnvironmentalHealth/Shellfish/]
April 2016: The Spring 2016 issue of the VMRC Fisheries newsletter covering recent and upcoming fisheries happenings is now available. [VMRC Fisheries newsletter]
March 28, 2016: The Virginia trophy striped bass season starts in May; the permit for this fishery can now be obtained for 2016. In 2015, participants in the striper trophy fishery were for the first time required to obtain an annual, no-cost permit. This new permit was made available via a new online process. The new permitting process is very simple, and resulted in over 2,000 trophy permits being issued in 2015. Many of the anglers that obtained a permit in 2015, did so because it was easy and they thought there was a chance they may get a chance to fish. One of the purposes of the new permitting process is to gauge participation in the trophy fishery, so Commission staff would like to request that fishermen obtaining the 2016 permit have definite plans to fish for trophy striped bass, keeping in mind that in the Virginia Bay waters open for trophy striped bass, the fishery is very much an incidental fishery with low numbers of trophy fish available and caught. 2016 permittees, as in 2015, are also required to report if they fished or not, and for any fishing days, report their harvest or lack of harvest. The reporting process is done though the Commission's Saltwater Journal (SWJ) recreational fishing web site which requires anglers to have a SWJ login (past SWJ users can use the forgot password/retrieve username link on the main SWJ web site login page to re-establish their login to the SWJ). New in 2016 will be a SWJ mobile feature that will allow permittees to comply with harvest reporting requirements. Anglers that decide to apply for and get a 2016 trophy permit should use the web links below to obtain a permit, and review fishing regulations for the trophy striper fishery, as well as the reporting requirements for permittees. Failure to report in 2016 may prevent issuance of a permit in the 2017 trophy season, so please only obtain a 2016 permit if you intend to fish - keeping in mind too that the online permitting process just takes a few minutes, particularly if the angler was permitted in 2015 and remembers their unique VMRC ID that is printed on your 2015 permit.[MRC Online No-Cost Permit Process | VMRC License Agent Locations | General Saltwater Fishing Regulations (scroll down for striper info) | Striper Regulation Summary Card | Trophy Striped Bass Harvest Reporting FAQ | Main SWJ Web Site | Forgot SWJ Password or Retrieve User Name | SWJ Mobile | Paper Reporting Form]
March 22, 2016: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission decided to hold a public hearing and a vote at its April meeting on potential cobia harvest reductions necessary because of a considerable increase in Virginia’s catch last year that resulted in a 240 percent overage in the coastal quota. The Commission discussed the issue for 2 ½ hours and heard the input of recreational anglers and charter boat captains who urged the Commission to defy a federal order to close the cobia fishery on June 20. Virginia’s anglers caught 47 percent of all the cobia caught on the East Coast last year, which reflects both a significant increase in targeting of cobia in recent years and the number of fish caught by anglers. [Meeting Summary]
March 10, 2016: NMFS announces closure of the
recreational cobia fishery in federal waters beginning June 20, 2016. The Commission will be considering
options for cobia fishing in State waters in next two months. [Updated
News on Cobia]
January 27, 2016: Effective Thursday, January 28, 2016, fishing vessels entering Virginia waters will be allowed to possess aboard, but not land, the legal North Carolina trip limit. [Notice]
January 26, 2016: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to take a seven-month pause in the processing or assigning of any new or appending shellfish leases in the Lynnhaven River or its tributaries in Virginia Beach, in order to seat a study panel to attempt to resolve user conflicts between shellfish industry practices, recreational boaters and waterfront property owners. In other action, the Commission revoked the licenses and tidal fishing privileges of eight commercial watermen after their court convictions for serious natural resources violations. [Meeting Summary]
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"
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 20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-650-10 ET SEQ. "ESTABLISHMENT OF OYSTER SANCTUARY AREAS"