December 17, 2012: Governor Robert F. McDonnell’s proposed budget does not cut the agency’s funding for the 2014 fiscal year. Instead, the Governor proposed increasing the funds for oyster restoration to $2 million,
allocating money for the Tangier Island Seawall project, and increasing General Fund appropriations to pay for two fisheries management and two law enforcement positions in jeopardy from the impending loss of federal grants. A full breakdown of the Governor’s proposed amendments to the budget can be found
December 10, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted to reduce the 2013 recreational and commercial striped bass quota by 14 percent, as required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The reduction is necessary due to 2012 harvest levels and several years of poor to mediocre spawning rates. Also, the Commission voted unanimously to approve a large oyster farm with up to 1,670 floating oyster cages in parts of Morris and Poropotank Bays off the York River. <Meeting Summary>
December 7, 2012: the Commission has established a new web page that
lists individuals that are interested in obtaining or selling a shellfish lease
using the lease transfer process. This is very similar to other web pages
hosted by the Commission to facilitate exchange of commercial licenses and
commercial fishing quotas. Please click on the following links to learn
Leases for Sale] [Licenses
and Quota for Sale].
December 3, 2012: The Virginia Institute of Marine Science Marine Extension Program will host two workshops in December to help watermen and aquaculturists put together applications for 2013 Fisheries Resource Grant funding. <Workshop Announcement>
November 20, 2012: Governor Bob McDonnell and Col. Paul Olsen of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers traveled today to Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay to announce they have signed an agreement to build a long-awaited seawall and jetty to protect the Island's endangered harbor. The project will involve both state and federal funding.
November 19, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has agreed to close the winter crab dredge fishery for the fifth consecutive year, extend the fall crab pot season through Dec. 15 for both male and female crabs, and instituted daily bushel limits for the entire 2013 commercial crabbing season in order to compensate for the increased fall harvest from the extended season. The moves were recommended by the Crab Management Advisory Committee. As a result, the daily bushel limits will take effect in March and will range from 27-55 bushels, depending on the number of crab pots a license holder is permitted. Also, the Commission closed the recreational black sea bass fishery immediately because recreational landings have exceeded the coast-wide quota. <Meeting Summary>
November 8, 2012: Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Saturday, November 10, 2012, the Virginia horseshoe crab 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 harvest by dredge, by the above date and time.
Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EST, November 10, 2012, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia caught by dredge shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.).
The hand harvest fishery will remain open west of the COLREGS line, until further notice.
If you have questions or comments contact Alicia Nelson (757) 247-2244.
November 5, 2012: Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Monday, November 12, 2012, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will re-open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. The 2012 commercial offshore quota allocation was 2,713,565 pounds. Virginia landings through October 31 total 1,689,881 pounds. The available remaining offshore summer flounder quota is projected to be 1,023,684 pounds. <Opening Notice>
November 2, 2012: Governor Robert F. McDonnell today announced the appointments of Sandra Lynn Haynie of Reedville and Robert G. Beck of Williamsburg to the Commission. Ms. Haynie is the General Manager at AMPRO Shipyard, and has a deep understanding of the interrelationships between our marine resources and those who make a living from them. Mr. Beck is an avid outdoorsman and recreational fisherman, and is President of The Beck Company. They replace Kyle Schick, who served eight years and was ineligible for reappointment, and Bill Laine, who did not seek reappointment.
October 16, 2012: Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Thursday, October 18, 2012, the commercial speckled trout fishery will close. 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 100% of the 51,104 pounds of speckled trout by the above date and time. The commercial landings quota (51,104 pounds) and season (September 1 through August 31) is set forth in Chapter 4 VAC20-280-10 et seq. [Notice]
October 2, 2012: A 446-pound swordfish caught on September 1, 2012 by Joseph T. Harris of Virginia Beach has been certified as the new state record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Harris’ catch surpassed the existing record of 381-1/2 pounds, caught more than 30 years ago. Mr. Harris made his record-setting catch off Virginia Beach and south of the Norfolk Canyon. The huge swordfish hit a drifted whole squid. A 2 1/2 hour battle ensued before the fish was landed. <Press Release>
September 25, 2012: As stock rebuilding efforts continue, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission has signaled its intent to close the winter crab dredge season for the fifth year in a row and agreed next month to consider extending the fall crab harvest for several weeks, into December, provided the catch is restricted in another way to compensate for what would result in an increased fall harvest. <Meeting Summary>
August 28, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has established a new rotational oyster harvest area in the York River and set a reduced daily possession limit as part of tightened conservation measures for the 2012-2013 public oyster ground season that begins in October. Rotational harvest areas will continue in the Rappahannock River and off Tangier Island, and are showing excellent results. Since they were enacted in 2008, the total oyster harvest has grown from 95,000 bushels to 236,000 bushels last year. The daily oyster possession limit will drop from 10 to 8 bushels, with a vessel limit of 24 bushels, down from 30 bushels last year. <Meeting Summary><2012-2013 Oyster Ground Harvest Season Details>
August 27, 2012: Veteran Virginia Marine Police supervisor Bruce Ballard has been promoted to Captain, effective immediately. He will supervise the Marine Police Officers stationed on the Eastern Shore. A life-long resident of the Eastern Shore, Capt. Ballard has been a Marine Police Officer since 1993, and has been a sergeant since 1996. Before joining the Virginia Marine Police, he was a Northampton County Sheriff’s deputy, and an officer with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. He brings a wealth of experience to his new position. He and his wife, Claudia, live in Willis Wharf. His hobbies include, hunting, fishing and boating.
August 21, 2012: Joseph D. Grist has been named Deputy Chief of the agency’s Fisheries Management Division, effective Aug. 22. He has been with the agency since 2006 as manager of the plans and statistics department. He has also served at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Christopher Newport University and a Master of Science degree in fisheries and wildlife from Virginia Tech. His hobbies include fishing, hiking and gardening. He and his wife, Kelly, live in Newport News.
July 25, 2012: A monster 122-pound, 1-ounce wahoo, caught by Susan Nelson, of Whiteford, Md., has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. She made her record-setting catch after a 45-minute battle off Wachapreague, in an area known locally as the Lumpy Bottom. Her June 23 catch surpassed the existing record of 109 pounds, caught nearly 20 years ago by Delmo Dawson of Zuni, Va. <Press Release>
July 24, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has lowered the recreational striped bass possession limit for this fall. The simplified regulation removes the no-take slot limit of 28-34 inches that has been in place since 2005. So, when the fall season opens Oct. 4 recreational anglers will be allowed to keep two stripers per day with a minimum size of 18 inches and a maximum size of 28 inches, although one of those two fish may be greater than 28 inches. This loosening and simplification of the striped bass is possible because anglers have been under their catch quota for the past few years. <Meeting Summary>
July 23, 2012: Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Monday, July 23, 2012, the Virginia horseshoe crab pound net 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 harvest by pound net, by the above date and time. Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EST, July 23, 2012, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia caught by pound net shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.). The dredge and hand harvest will remain open west of the COLREGS line, until further notice. [Notice]
July 10, 2012: Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Tuesday, July 10, 2012, the Virginia horseshoe crab landing limits will be reduced by 50%. At that time, it is projected that Virginia will have landed more than 80% of the state-wide quota. This triggers the landing limits of horseshoe crab harvesters to be cut by 50%. Therefore, after Tuesday, July 10, at 6:00 P.M., EST, horseshoe crab endorsement licensees will be limited to 1,250 horseshoe crabs per day, restricted horseshoe crab endorsement licensees will be limited to 500 horseshoe crabs per day, and bycatch harvesters will be limited to 250 horseshoe crabs per day (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.). [Notice]
July 10, 2012: Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Wednesday, July 11, 2012, the Virginia horseshoe crab trawl 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 for harvest by trawl, by the above date and time. Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EST, July 11, 2012, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia caught by trawl shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.). The dredge, hand, and pound net fisheries will remain open for horseshoe crabs west of the COLREGS line, until further notice. [Notice]
June 26, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has signaled its intent to simplify and loosen the striped bass size limits for the fall recreational season, allowing anglers to keep more of the fish they catch. A public hearing and vote will be held next month to eliminate the so-called no-take slot limit of 28-34 inches, which would permit anglers to keep two fish per day between 18-28 inches, one of which may be more than 28 inches. Also, the Commission rescheduled its October meeting for Oct. 30 and decided to hold a combined November-December meeting on Dec. 4. <Meeting Summary>
June 18, 2012: Commissioner Jack Travelstead has named Rob O’Reilly as the Chief of the agency’s Fisheries Management Division. Mr. O’Reilly has been with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission since 1987, and was named Deputy Fisheries Chief in 1993. He was named the Acting Chief of Fisheries Management on March 22, 2012. He is responsible for managing the state’s saltwater fisheries, both finfish and shellfish, recreational and commercial. <Biography>
May 23, 2012: Commissioner Jack Travelstead has declared free fishing days in Virginia’s tidal waters from June 1-3, 2012. No one needs to buy a saltwater fishing licenses during that weekend, so feel free to wet a line and experience the joys of fishing. <Press Release>
May 22, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today tackled two contentious land-use issues that generated significant community interest. In the first case, the Commission voted unanimously to deny proposed construction of eight fence lines on White Marsh Beach in the Grandview section of Hampton, and ordered the property owner to remove existing fence posts. In the other case, the Commission voted to overturn a Norfolk Wetlands Board ruling against a proposed apartment building/yacht facility in the East Beach section of Norfolk. <Meeting Summary>
May 7, 2012: The Secretary of Natural Resources and Commissioner Jack Travelstead have approved alternate summer operating hours for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's main office, 2600 Washington Ave., Newport News. Effective Monday, May 7th, our main office’s hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Friday hours of operation will be 8:00 a.m. with closing at 2:30 p.m. This operating schedule will conclude with the close of business on Friday, August 31, 2012.
April 30, 2012: Governor Robert F. McDonnell has appointed Jack Travelstead to be Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Mr. Travelstead was sworn in today and takes the post he has held as Acting Commissioner since March 22. He has served with the agency since March 1, 1981. He was chief of the Fisheries Management Division since 1984, and deputy commissioner since 2006. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Old Dominion University and a Master’s of Arts in Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. He lives in Toano with his wife. <Press Release>
April 24, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission agreed to closely monitor the spring and summer crab harvest and decide in September whether to extend the commercial crab pot season by several weeks, into December. While the stock’s abundance has increased 66 percent since last year and the number of juvenile crabs has set a new record, due to a four-year stock rebuilding program, a drop in spawning-age females signals caution. The Commission indicated that any season extension may come with daily bushel limits to offset any harvest increase from a season extension. <Meeting Summary>
April 23, 2012: Notice is hereby given by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC), pursuant to authority granted the Commissioner by Chapter 4VAC 20-720-35, that on April 23, 2012: The Public Oyster Ground hand tong harvest season in the James River seed area including the Deep Water Shoal state replenishment seed area is hereby extended through May 31, 2012 for the harvest of seed oysters only. In addition, pursuant to Chapter 4VAC 20-1230-10, ET SEQ., "Pertaining to Restrictions on Shellfish, subdivision 4VAC 20-1230-30(M), a bulk seed permit shall be required for the harvest of wild seed oysters for the month of May. <Notice>
April 20, 2012: Effective 12:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Sunday, April 22, 2012, the Virginia horseshoe crab fishery for any gear other than trawl, dredge, pound net, or hand harvest 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 harvest by gears other than trawl, dredge, pound net, or hand harvest, by the above date and time.
Therefore, after 12:00 P.M., EST, April 22, 2012, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia caught by any gear other than dredge, trawl, pound net, or hand harvest shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.). The dredge, pound net, and hand harvest fisheries will remain open west of the COLREGS line, and the trawl fishery (east of the COLREGS line) will open on June 8. <Notice>
April 19, 2012: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced today the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is booming, fueled by an extraordinary explosion in juvenile crab abundance. The results of the 2012 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey determined the total population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has reached 764 million, due to four years of a bay-wide stock rebuilding program. This is the highest level recorded since 1993, and is more than triple the record low of 249 million set in 2007. The new high abundance level is the result of a massive bay-wide baby boom — an almost tripling of the number of juvenile crabs from 207 million last year to 587 million. Juvenile crab abundance has never been recorded at such high levels and the new record obliterated the old record of 512 million juveniles established in 1993. <Press Release>
April 12, 2012: Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Friday, April 13, 2012, the Virginia horseshoe crab fishery, east of the COLREGS line, will close to any gear other than trawl. 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 east of the COLREGS line, by gears other than trawl, by the above date and time. All other horseshoe crab fisheries will remain open until further notice.
<HSC Closure Notice>
Effective 11:59 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close. Vessels that have entered Virginia waters and secured to an offloading site prior to 11:59 P.M., EST, Wednesday, April 18, 2012, may possess and offload 10,000 pounds of Summer Flounder, minus any previous landings during the fifteen-day landing period. <Flounder Closure Notice>
April 4, 2012: The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament today certified a 24-pound, 3-ounce tautog caught by a Seaford dentist as a new state record. The 32-inch-long fish was caught on March 25 by Ken Neill, III and broke the previous record of a 24 pound tautog set 25 years ago. Mr. Neill made the record-setting catch at the Morgan wreck, which is one of the vessels contained within the footprint of the popular Triangle Reef site and located slightly over 30 nautical miles off Cape Henry. <Press Release>
March 27, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has given a green light for construction of what will likely be the country’s first offshore wind turbine generator, a prototype that will stand 479-feet-tall and produce five megawatts of clean energy. It will be located in state waters in the Chesapeake Bay three miles from Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore. The facility is slated for completion at the end of 2013. If so, it would be the first of its kind in the country. <Press Release> <Meeting Summary>
March 22, 2012: Governor Robert F. McDonnell has named Jack Travelstead as Acting Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, effective immediately. He was sworn in this morning, and has assumed all the duties and responsibilities of Commissioner. He will serve as Acting Commissioner until the Governor makes a permanent appointment to the position. He replaces Steven G. Bowman, who retired after 19 years of service to the agency, the past six as Commissioner. Mr. Travelstead has named Rob O’Reilly as Acting Chief of the agency’s Fisheries Management Division, and has named Joe Grist as Acting Deputy Chief of the Fisheries Management Division.
March 7, 2012: Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner Steven G. Bowman has announced his retirement from state service, effective March 26, after six years in charge of the state agency that manages the Commonwealth’s tidal fisheries and the state-owned waterbottom. Bowman, 52, has accepted a position as Chief of Police for the Town of Smithfield, his hometown. He spent most of his career in law enforcement and has lived in Smithfield for decades. <Press Release>
February 28, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has lowered the recreational flounder size limit for the third year in a row, allowing anglers to keep more of the fish they catch. The 2012 flounder size limit will be 16.5 inches, with a four fish daily possession limit. The 2011 possession limit was 17.5 inches with a five fish possession limit. <Summary>
February 15, 2012: A 74-pound striped bass, caught on January 20th by Cary Wolfe of Bristow, VA, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Wolfe’s catch surpassed the existing record of 73 pounds, caught nearly four years ago to the day by Fred Barnes of Chesapeake. <Press Release>
February 13, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has received a unique application from Gamesa Energy USA, LLC to install a single 5-Megawatt offshore wind turbine generator prototype and its supporting infrastructure approximately 3 miles southwest of Cape Charles Harbor in the lower Chesapeake Bay, west of Northampton County. The project includes the installation of a steel monopile foundation and tower with a maximum blade tip height of 479 feet above mean sea level, stone riprap scour protection around the foundation base, and the installation of 15,219 linear feet of submerged power cable buried a minimum 6 feet below the seabed. The cable will connect the proposed wind turbine to the Cape Charles electrical grid through the Bay Coastal Railroad property in Cape Charles Harbor. The proposed wind turbine will be located at N 37°14’37.4", W 76°03’47.3" in approximately 53 feet of water. A public notice for this project was published on February 11 and 12, 2012 in the Va. Pilot and Eastern Shore News. Interested parties are welcome and encouraged to comment on the proposal. Comments are requested within 15 days, and may be sent to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Habitat Management Division, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, VA 23607. Here are details of the
February 10, 2012: Here are the bills being tracked by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission during the 2012 General Assembly Session. <2012 Legislation>
February 7, 2012: Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that Virginia’s oyster harvest has skyrocketed over the past decade, a boom fueled through the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s use of a rotational harvest system, sanctuaries and targeted shell plantings on public oyster grounds. Over the past decade, the oyster harvest in Virginia has increased ten-fold, from 23,000 bushels in 2001 to 236,000 bushels in 2011. In that time, the dockside value of the oyster harvest increased from $575,000 to $8.26 million. In fact, last year’s oyster harvest in Virginia was the largest since 1989. <Governor's Press Release>
February 6, 2012: Online registration for the Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) is open. Toll-free, call-in registration is also available. Saltwater anglers who do not need to buy a license under state law must register for free and supply their contact information before they fish every year. Anglers who buy a saltwater fishing license will be automatically registered. The intent is to create a Virginia-wide "phone book" of saltwater anglers, which will be given to the National Marine Fisheries Service in order to improve fishing effort surveys and to exempt Virginia anglers from having to sign up directly with the National Saltwater Angler Registry and pay the annual $15 federal registration fee. Anglers that registered last year must register again this year; registrations are valid for one year from date of issuance. Please keep your FIP number with you while fishing. The free FIP registration is not a substitute for a license when the angler is required by law to purchase and hold a saltwater license. <FIP Information Page with Online Registration>
January 31, 2012: Anglers registered 5176 trophy-size fish for Citation awards during the 54th Annual Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, which ran from January 1st through December 31st. This was the 12th year in a row anglers registered at least 5,000 Citations since the Tournament began in 1958. <Press Release>
January 24, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission agreed today to consider lowering the recreational flounder size limit for another year, setting a public hearing and vote for next month’s meeting. Also, the Commission ordered the two-year suspension of a recreational angler’s fishing license after he was convicted of possessing an illegal number of cobia in a hidden compartment in his boat. A commercial crabber’s license was suspended for two years after he admitted he was fishing an illegally large number of crab pots. <Post Meeting Summary>
January 6, 2012: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has received top marks for shellfish management and enforcement of regulations designed to protect consumers from the dangers of tainted shellfish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded in a new audit. <Press
Release> <FDA 2011 Shellfish Sanitation
January 5, 2012: Governor Bob McDonnell today announced a partnership between the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) that supports his government reform initiative to streamline services. Beginning in late-January, citizens can register boats and boat trailers in one trip to either DGIF or DMV. They will also be able to purchase hunting and fishing licenses from both agencies. Saltwater fishing licenses sold through the DGIF sales system will also then be available at DMV locations when the new sales process is implemented late this month. <Governor's Announcement>
January 1, 2012: A moratorium on River Herring fishing went into effect January 1, 2012. The purposes of the moratorium are to rebuild the Virginia stocks of River Herring and to comply with the requirements of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring. It is unlawful for any person to possess any river herring in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fishermen that traditionally fish for river herring with hook and line, dip nets, cast nets, gill nets or any other gear should be aware of this fishing closure and not purchase a gear license if they were only interested in fishing for river herring. <Moratorium Regulation>