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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.

September 2017

September 27, 2017: Effective 11:59 P.M., Saturday, September 30th, 2017, the Virginia commercial cobia fishery will close. Based upon landing reports of cobia from both the state and federal level, it is projected that the states belonging to the Atlantic Migratory Group of cobia (Georgia-New York) have caught 100% of the 50,000-pound annual catch limit allocated to the commercial sector. [Notice]

September 27, 2017: Effective 12:01 A.M., Monday, October 16, 2017, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will re-open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. [Notice]

September 26, 2017:
The Commission board voted unanimously today to set aside from shellfish leasing 40 acres of water bottoms where Captain John Smith first met Pocahontas, in order to protect a wealth of Native American relics, including possibly wooden canoes, in the river adjacent to Werowocomoco. The property is owned by the National Park Service and is located between Purtan Bay and Purtan Creek, tributaries to the York River in Gloucester County. In other action, the board voted to close the commercial cobia fishery on Oct. 1.  [Meeting Summary]

September 12, 2017: 
Effective 6 P.M., Tuesday, September 12, 2017, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial pound net fishery will close. [Notice]

September 6, 2017: 
Effective Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 6:00 P.M., Horseshoe Crab Pound Net Permittees will be limited to possess aboard any vessel or land more than 250 horseshoe crabs per day. [Notice]

August 2017

August 23, 2017: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission board today unanimously approved the 2017-18 oyster season management plan. Among the changes are 1) a five day work week, up from four 2) a reduced vessel bushel limit from 24 to 16 bushels 3) the opening of additional oyster rocks for harvest, and 4) staggered opening of public grounds to ensure that multiple harvest areas are open concurrently throughout the established season. See following web link for a chart of the areas, gear types and dates. [Oyster Harvest Area Openings | Meeting Summary]

August 10, 2017:
VDH and VIMs have worked together to provide occupational health factsheet aimed at raising awareness of algal blooms and their potential health effects for those working on Virginia’s waters. Please follow the links to learn more. [Factsheet | VDH HABS Website]

July 2017

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 2017

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 15, 2017:  VDH DSS announces conditional waters in Nansemond River will remain in CLOSED status following yesterday’s rains. Nansemond River Conditional Area C1 is now set to reopen on Sunday June 25, 2017.  [VDH Notices for Conditional Shellfish Harvest Areas]

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

June 7, 2017:
The Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Sanitation, will be holding a public meeting to discuss new Seasonal Condemnation closures in tributaries along the southern shore of the Potomac. This meeting will be held this Friday (June 9th) at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Newton Branch located at 22 Coles Point Rd in Hague at 1:30 in the afternoon.

June 6, 2017:
Effective for Tuesday June 6, 2017 through Thursday June 15, 2017, Conditional Area C1 in Lynnhaven River and Nansemond River Conditional Area C1 are CLOSED to the harvest of oysters, clams and mussels. Both areas are currently set to reopen on Friday June 16, 2017. For 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. [VDH Notices for Conditional Shellfish Harvest Areas]

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

May 2017

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.

May 30, 2017:  Landing limit reduction announced for the 2017 Virginia horseshoe crab dredge fishery effective 6PM Tuesday, May 30, 2017. [Notice]

May 23, 2017:
The Commission board today signaled its willingness to consider closing the fall crab season a bit earlier and delaying next spring’s season opening, as well as adjusting the fall daily bushel limit, to compensate for low juvenile crab abundance. The adult crab levels are very good, but this spring’s juveniles are this fall’s harvestable stock and next year’s spawning crabs so the board may be cautious when making crab management decisions at next month’s meeting. In other action, the board is poised to next month rescind a commercial license fee increase that was slated to go into effect this December. [Meeting Summary]

May 16, 2017: 
Effective for Tuesday May 16, 2017, Conditionally Condemned Areas C1 in Nansemond River and C1 in Lynnhaven River are OPEN to the harvest of oysters, clams and mussels.  Click on notice link to view the closure documents (report and map). [Notice]

May 15, 2017:Fish On! Free Fishing Days Established for June 2-4, 2017 [Press Release]

May 12, 2017: Virginia Institute of Marine Science will host a workshop on blue crab mortality in shedding operations on May 31, 2017 from 7 to 9 PM. Contact Dr. Hamish Small at 804-684-7745 or hamish@vims.edu to reserve a spot. Food will be provided. [Notice]

May 8, 2017:  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, begins reef building project on Piankatank River [Press Release]

April 2017

April 28, 2017:  Effective Sunset, Sunday, April 30th, 2017, the Virginia horseshoe crab general category permit commercial fishery will close.  [Notice]

April 27, 2017:  Effective 11:59 P.M., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Sunday, April 30, 2017, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close. [Notice]

April 25, 2017: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission board today was briefed on the 28th annual Bay-wide blue crab winter dredge survey results, which show a record abundance of spawning-age female crabs but a low number of juveniles, and requested staff develop potential management options to address the juvenile crab level. The board set June as the target date for a public hearing and vote on crab management measures. In other action, the board adopted an emergency regulation so eligible oyster license holders do not have to pay the Code-required user fee (which is $300 a year for harvesters) by April 30 this year in order to maintain their eligibility to harvest oysters next year. Instead, the user fee must be paid before harvesting but by the end of this calendar year at the latest.  [Meeting Summary]

April 19, 2017 -- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Scientific Survey Shows Promising Blue Crab Stock Abundance with Boost to Adult Females:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today released the results of the 2017 blue crab winter dredge survey, which shows a 31 percent increase in adult female crabs and forecasts another year of improved harvests. [Press Release]

April 11, 2017: 
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has reduced the retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark and hammerhead shark management groups for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 25 to 3 sharks per vessel per trip effective 11:30 p.m. April 15, 2017. [ASMFC Notice]

March 2017

March 29, 2017: The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) is hosting two workshops in late April to help the for-hire community prepare for submitting Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) electronically. The Council approved a measure last year that will phase out the current paper-based reports over the coming year. For-hire vessel operators/owners who must report VTRs for species managed by the Mid-Atlantic Council will need to report using their mobile device or personal computer in order to be in compliance. While all options for electronic reporting will be briefly discussed, the workshops will focus on hands-on training for the eTrips/mobile and eTrips/PC system, a free program developed by the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP). [Workshop Notice]

March 28, 2017: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today voted unanimously to open the recreational cobia fishery on June 1 and to close it on Sept. 15. Anglers may keep one fish per day and the daily vessel possession limit will increase from two to three fish per day. The minimum size limit will remain at 40 inches, with one fish per vessel allowed to be 50 inches or greater. Gaffing will continue to be prohibited. These measures were a compromise to appropriately manage a stock that has seen increased fishing effort in recent years. [Meeting Summary]

March 24, 2017: Over 280,000 fish tagged by volunteer taggers over 22 years !  Click on the link to read this and other interesting facts about the cooperative game fish tagging project conducted by MRC and VIMS.  [VGFTP Flyer]

March 23, 2017:
Emergency Shellfish Closure # 046-081 “Perrin River” in Gloucester County has been rescinded effective March 23, 2017. All shellfish harvesting waters have returned to their prior classification.  Details may be found through a link available on the Division’s home page.

March 21, 2017:
Emergency Shellfish Closure # 046-081 “Perrin River” in Gloucester County issued effective February 21, 2017 has been extended through April 4, 2017. 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.

March 8, 2017: The Commission has developed a mobile app that uses smartphone GPS to show the users position relative to shellfish leases and other map features. Mapped areas include private oyster ground leases, oyster ground applications, fixed fishing devices, public clamming grounds, artificial reefs and the blue crab sanctuary. The app is available from the Apple or Google app stores, search for "VMRC Maps" on your smartphone to install, or click on the following link to learn more: [VMRC Maps].

March 7, 2017: Emergency Shellfish Closure # 046-081 “Perrin River” in Gloucester County issued effective February 21, 2017 has been extended through March 21, 2017. 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.

February 2017

February 28, 2017: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission board today voted to raise recreational summer flounder size limit from 16 to 17 inches, due to below average reproduction over the past six years and to meet a requirement of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The daily possession limit will remain at four fish per angler, and the season will remain open year-round. In other action, the board revoked the fishing licenses of a commercial harvester for the third time in the past four years, this time for five years for fishing while under license revocation. [Meeting Summary]

February 28, 2017: 
Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday March 1, 2017, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. [Notice]

February 21, 2017: 
Due to the release of an unknown amount of diesel fuel leaking from a sunken vessel, Emergency Shellfish Closure # 046-081 “Perrin River” in Gloucester County has been issued effective February 21, 2017 through March 7, 2017. 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.

February 15, 2017:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is accepting nominations to fill a vacancy on the Virginia Recreational Fishing Advisory Board (RFAB) for a three-year term. All members are given the opportunity to continue serving additional three-year terms at the pleasure of the Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. We hope to receive recommendations for members from Virginia Beach and Southside areas or the Eastern Shore. Please submit nominations to Alicia Nelson (Alicia.Nelson@mrc.virginia.gov) by February 27, 2017 – the nomination request is attached. [Notice]

January 2017

January 26, 2017: Please click on the link to see an announcement from the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding a closure of recreational cobia fishing in federal waters. [NMFS Notice]

January 24, 2017: The Commission today presented a plaque to oyster Conservation and Replenishment Officer Dr. Jim Wesson and thanked him for 25 years of service to the Commonwealth and the agency. Dr. Wesson is retiring and has been the architect of the recent years’ success in oyster restoration. Over the past decade, the oyster harvest has grown from 24,000 bushels in 2004 to 619,000 bushels last year. In other action, the Commission revoked the license and tidal fishing privileges of a commercial waterman for one year for participating in harvest activities while under license revocation for previous violations. [Meeting Summary]

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]


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Recent Regulations

SEPTEMBER 2017

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

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-510-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO AMBERJACK AND COBIA"

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

AUGUST 2017

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

JULY 2017

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-270-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO CRABBING"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1270-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO ATLANTIC MENHADEN"

JUNE 2017

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-270-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO CRABBING"

EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SHARKS"

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

MAY 2017

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

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

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

APRIL 2017

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-450-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF BLUEFISH"

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

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

MARCH 2017

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-510-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO AMBERJACK AND COBIA"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1120-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO TILEFISH AND GROUPER"

FEBRUARY 2017

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

JANUARY 2017

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