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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 2018

September 19, 2018:  the temporary crab pot time of day allowance, announced on 9/11/18, and related to last week's severe weather is no longer in effect, as such the lawful daily time period for the commercial harvesting of crabs by crab pot or peeler pot shall be from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.  All other pertinent commercial crabbing regulations are in effect as well.

September 11, 2018: 
Due to inclement weather related to Hurricane Florence, all Commission Offices will be closed on Thursday, 9/13/18 and Friday, 9/14/18. Please check the agency web site at mrc.virginia.gov next week for any additional office schedule changes. [VA Hurricane Preparedness Information | Weather Information]

September 11, 2018: 
During September, the lawful daily time period for the commercial harvesting of crabs by crab pot or peeler pot shall be from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Crab pots or peeler pots already on board a boat at the end of this lawful daily time period may be set during the period starting immediately following the lawful daily time period and ending one hour after the lawful daily time period. However, given the pending severe weather expected from Hurricane Florence, the Commissioner is allowing crab pots or peeler pots to be removed from the waters after 2 p.m. provided those crab pots are returned to shore. This is a temporary allowance, until the severe weather subsides.

September 10, 2018:  MAFMC-ASMFC Flounder hearing has been re-scheduled: 
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are soliciting public input on a draft amendment to address several potential changes to the management of the commercial summer flounder fishery, as well as modifications to the fishery management plan (FMP) goals and objectives for summer flounder. Ten public hearings will be held between September 10 and September 27. Virginia’s hearing will be held at the VMRC main office at 2600 Washington Ave, Newport News , VA on Thursday Sept. 13, 2018, at 6:00pm.  -- rescheduled to Wednesday, September 26, at 7:00 p.m. [MAFMC-ASMFC Notice]

August 2018

August 30, 2018:  The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is soliciting public input on an Atlantic Cobia Public Information Document (PID) to gather input from stakeholders about changes observed in the fishery/resource and potential management measures that should be considered for inclusion in Draft Amendment 1. Virginia’s hearing will be held at the VMRC main office at 2600 Washington Ave, Newport News , VA on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at 6:00pm. Please see attached Memos for more information. [ASMFC memo | VMRC memo]

August 30, 2018:  Effective 11:59 P.M., Sunday, September 30th, 2018, 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 the 50,000-pound annual catch limit allocated to the commercial sector. [Notice]

August 27, 2018:  The Commission agreed to lease approximately 83 acres within The Thorofare, in York County, but denied a nearby 20 acre shellfish lease application. The lease applications were opposed by the local yacht club and an adjacent landowner. In other action the Commission adopted the commercial oyster harvest season for 2018-2019 and voted to modify thirteen finfish regulations to standardize measurement of total length for size limit regulations. [Meeting Summary | 2018-2019 Oyster Season Summary]

August 27, 2018: 
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced plans to continue development of a bluefish allocation amendment. Public hearings to occur after release of bluefish operational assessment. [MAFMC Press Release]

July 2018

July 24, 2018:  The Commission met and approved two habitat permits, one lease application, put two commercial watermen on probation, and revoked two watermen's licenses. Also of note, the Commission levied $9,000 fines against two entities for dredging without a permit. The meeting summary has the full results of the meeting.  [Meeting Summary]

July 16, 2018:
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 will increase from 3 to 36 large coastal sharks—other than sandbar sharks —per vessel, per trip as of July 18, 2018. [ NMFS Notice VA Commercial Shark Possession Limits ]

June 2018

June 19, 2018:  The Commission approved four habitat permits, denied two shellfish lease applications, put three commercial watermen on probation, and adopted commercial regulations for blue crab and bluefish. The meeting summary has the full results of the meeting.  [Meeting Summary]

June 15, 2018:
Effective 12 noon, Saturday, June 16th, 2018, the Virginia horseshoe crab hand harvest commercial fishery will close. [Notice]

June 14, 2018:
The horseshoe crab hand harvest fishery will reduce its landing limit beginning at 12 noon on Friday, June 15, 2018. [Notice]

June 4, 2018:  The Commission welcomes new Deputy Commissioner Ellen Bolen today. Ellen has served in a variety of natural resource management and policy roles over the last 12 years, and most recently as a senior policy advisor for NOAA working in Washington DC. Ellen has extensive experience with marine resource and fisheries policy and will be assisting Commissioner Bowman and Commission staff with all aspects of agency activities.

June 2, 2018: Commissioner Bowman participated in Saturday's Clean the Bay Day activities on Cypress Creek near Smithfield. Over 60 volunteers participated in the cleanup in an area of concentration on Cypress Creek from the Smithfield Station to the terminus of Windsor Castle Park. Commission constituents are encouraged to participate in Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week during the first full week of June, June 2nd through 10th. Bay Awareness week is an opportunity to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay and to promote Bay conservation activities. Participants in awareness activities can post pictures of their participation on social media sites under hashtags #CleanTheBayDay and #AreYouBayAware. Click on the following links to learn about Awareness Week events and Bay resource facts. [CBF Clean the Bay Day | ACB Back to the Bay | CBP Bay Facts]

June 1, 2018: VMRC has created an Artificial Reefs Map that includes detailed deployment records of specific reef structures. Artificial reef construction is part of a continuing effort to replenish fish populations for recreational anglers. Currently, Virginia has 23 artificial reef sites (18 inshore and 5 offshore). [Artificial Reef Map]

May 2018

May 29, 2018:  Fish On! Free Fishing Days Established for Recreational Fishing in Virginia Saltwater areas for June 1-3, 2018. If you’ve always wanted to try fishing, now is your chance! You may recreationally fish without a license again this year, during the first weekend in June. Take advantage of the free fishing days, June 1, 2 and 3, 2018, and enjoy the great outdoors with your family and friends without having to spend money for a fishing license. [Press Release | Saltwater Proclamation | Freshwater Fishing Too]

May 25, 2018: 
Commission constituents are encouraged to participate in Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week during the first full week of June, June 2nd through 10th. Bay Awareness week is an opportunity to celebrate the Chesapeake Bay and to promote Bay conservation activities. Participants in awareness activities can post pictures of their participation on social media sites under hashtags #CleanTheBayDay and #AreYouBayAware. Click on the following links to learn about Awareness Week events and Bay resource facts. [CBF Clean the Bay Day | ACB Back to the Bay | CBP Bay Facts]

May 22, 2018: 
The Commission heard a contentious case regarding a proposed commercial aquaculture operation in the Rappahannock River near Locklies Creek in Middlesex County. The application was denied on a vote of 5-2-1 after a three hour hearing, with concerns expressed for SAV impacts and potential conflicts of use for the proposed site. In other action, the Commission designated an area within the Poquoson River as Public Clam Grounds. [Meeting Summary]

May 17, 2018:
The horseshoe crab dredge gear fishery will close at sunset, Thursday, May 17, 2018. [Notice]

May 14, 2018: Landing limit reduction for the 2018 horseshoe crab dredge fishery is effective sunset, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. [Notice]

May 12, 2018: 
NOAA Fisheries is reducing 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 large coastal shark other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip as of 11:30 p.m. local time May 12, 2018. [NMFS Notice]

May 9, 2018: Resilient Blue Crab Stock Weathers Harsh Winter Conditions. [Press Release]

May 8, 2018: NOAA Adjustment Made to Daily Retention Limit for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna General Category Fishery. The daily retention limit is now three fish per vessel, per day, for large, medium, or giant bluefin tuna (measuring 73” or greater). [NOAA Notice]

April 2018

April 30, 2018:  Effective Sunset, Monday, April 30th, 2018, the Virginia horseshoe crab general category permit commercial fishery will close. [Notice]

April 24, 2018:
The Commission heard three habitat permit cases, three contested lease applications, and adopted regulations related to commercial crabbing and recreational tilefish season and possession limits. See full meeting summary for more. [Meeting Summary]

April 23, 2018: 
ASMFC announces State public hearings to gather public input on Draft Addendum V to the American Eel Fishery Management Plan. [ASMFC Notice]

NOAA Fisheries is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna daily retention limits effective April 26, 2018, through December 31, 2018. [NOAA Notice]

April 20, 2018: 
Effective 11:59 P.M., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Monday, April 30, 2018, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close. [Notice]

April 2, 2018:
Effective 2PM, Friday, April 13, 2017, the Virginia James River Seed Area, including the Deep Water Shoal State Replenishment Seed Area will be closed by VMRC to the harvest of Seed Oysters. [Notice]

March 2018

March 27, 2018: The Commission voted 5-2 to authorize an alternative plan to reduce the loss of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) for a permit for the National Park Service to fill State-owned submerged land as part of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve Marsh Restoration/Protection Plan, in Fairfax County. The Commission also established a 16 1/2-inch minimum size limit for the 2018 recreational summer flounder fishery in Virginia waters, established new commercial restrictions related to cobia, set the 2018 recreational cobia season, and eliminated the prohibition on gaffing cobia while fishing recreationally. See the full meeting summary for more. [Meeting Summary | More on Cobia Regulations]

March 23, 2018: The State will be transitioning to a new email system over the weekend. Our employee State email addresses have not changed. If you are corresponding with any Commission employee via email between 6PM Friday and the end of next week , please be aware that email delivery could be delayed, and if important be sure to verify with your intended recipient that your email has been properly received. Likewise if you are expecting email from one of our employees feel free to contact the employee by phone to check the status of an email. Our staff directory has employee phone numbers.  [Staff Directory] [MRC User Initial Login | VITA Gmail Support]

March 16, 2018:
Results of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline Hearing held today have been posted. [Meeting Summary]

March 13, 2018: Mid-Atlantic Council Seeking Applicants for Advisory Panels: The Council is soliciting applications from qualified individuals to serve on eight advisory panels. Applications are due by April 20, 2018. [MAFMC Press Release]

February 2018

February 27, 2018: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission Board today declined to curtail recreational speckled trout season or catch limits and decided not to further extend the oyster season. Unseasonably cold temperatures in early January resulted in some mortality in the speckled trout stocks and iced in oyster harvesters for a time, but the board noted the lack of science to show whether management changes would have any impact on the stocks and pointed out the oyster season already was extended in five hand scrape areas for seven work days earlier this month to compensate for reduced weather-related harvests.  [Meeting Summary]

February 26, 2018:
Attention all Interested Parties: At the request of the National Park Service, the Dyke Marsh proposal will NOT be heard by the Commission board at its Feb. 27, 2018 meeting. This matter will not be addressed at this month’s meeting. It will be rescheduled for the Commission’s March 27, 2018 meeting. Our apologies for any inconvenience.

February 22, 2018: 
NOAA has announced changes to the Federal Reporting System for For-Hire Fisheries. Starting March 12, 2018, vessels issued a federal charter/party permit for a Mid-Atlantic managed fishery will be required to submit electronic vessel trip reports for all trips carrying passengers for hire. [Notice NOAA Web Site]

February 16, 2018: 
The Commission's Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament announced today that there will be no changes in citation rules or citation requirements for 2018.  [Press Release]

February 15, 2018:
  Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Thursday March 1, 2018, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. [Notice]

January 2018

January 31, 2018:  NOAA Fisheries announced today that a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone (Dynamic Management Area - DMA) has been established 54 nautical miles east-southeast of Virginia beach, Virginia (see map in NMFS Notice) to protect an aggregation of 3 right whales sighted in this area on January 26, 2018. [NMFS Notice]

NOAA Fisheries also announced a February recreational season in 2018 for the black sea bass fishery. The current black sea bass recreational management measures of a 12.5-inch minimum size and 15-fish possession limit apply during the February 1-28 federal season. Federal measures for the rest of the 2018 recreational black sea bass fishery will be developed through a separate action to be implemented later this spring. [NMFS Notice]

January 25, 2018:
The Finfish Management Advisory Committee will meet at the VMRC Main Office on the 4rth Floor on February 12 at 6 pm to discuss cold stun events and impacts on Virginia finfish species. The discussion will not be limited to speckled trout, but that is the key species affected by this winter’s temperature regime.  Interested parties are welcome to attend.  

January 23, 2018:
Due to recent unseasonably frigid weather conditions, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission board today voted unanimously to extend the oyster season by seven days for the five hand scrape harvest areas that were scheduled to close on Jan. 31. As a result, those area will remain open through Feb. 9. The agency’s Shellfish Management Advisory Committee will meet on Feb. 1 to make recommendations on whether to similarly extend the oyster season in harvest areas scheduled to close Feb. 28. In other action, the board voted 7-1 to approve the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline with 10 permit conditions designed to minimize the construction impacts to 18 water body crossings.
[Meeting Summary]

January 22, 2018:  The scheduled Jan. 23, 2018 public hearing on the National Park Service’s proposal concerning Dyke Marsh in Fairfax County will NOT be heard by the Commission Board at this meeting, due to the partial shutdown of the federal government. The hearing will be rescheduled for the Feb. 27 regularly scheduled monthly Commission meeting. The agency regrets any inconvenience to any and all interested parties. This public hearing will NOT be held on Jan. 23, 2018.

January 19, 2018: 
The ASMFC held a public hearing at the Commission Offices on January 16, 2018 to gather public comment on Draft Addendum XXX to the Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. Written comments on Draft Addendum XXX can also be sent to Caitlin Starks, ASMFC FMP Coordinator using the email address, comments@asmfc.org, with Subject line: ‘Draft Addendum XXX Comment’ or mailed to 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200A-N, Arlington, VA 22201. [ASMFC Notice]

January 3, 2018: This is a notice that 80 percent of the 51,104 pound commercial landings quota for speckled trout has been taken for the season that began on September 1, 2017 and will extend through August 31, 2018.  Effective 12:01 A.M. Saturday, January 6, 2018, it shall be unlawful, for any commercial fisherman registration licensee, to take, harvest, land or possess a daily bycatch limit of more than 100 pounds of speckled trout, and that daily bycatch landing limit of speckled trout shall consist of at least an equal amount of other fish species. When it is projected that the commercial landings quota will be met, the Marine Resources Commission will provide notice of the closing date for commercial harvest and landing of speckled trout; and it shall be unlawful for any person to harvest or land speckled trout for commercial purposes, after such closing date and until September 1, 2018. If you have questions or comments, please contact Jill Ramsey at (757) 247-2243.


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Recent Regulations

AUGUST 2018

4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq. “Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass”

4 VAC 20-280-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Speckled Trout and Red Drum”

4 VAC 20-320-10 et seq. “Pertaining to the Taking of Black Drum”

4 VAC 20-380-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Grey Trout (Weakfish)”

4 VAC 20-490-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Sharks”

4 VAC 20-500-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Eels”

4 VAC 20-510-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Amberjack and Cobia”

Emergency Chapter 4 VAC 20-510-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Amberjack and Cobia.”

4 VAC 20-540-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Spanish and King Mackerel”

4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Summer Flounder”

4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Scup (Porgy)”

4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Black Sea Bass”

4 VAC 20-960-10 et seq. “Pertaining to Tautog”

4 VAC 20-720-10 et seq., "Pertaining to Restrictions on Oyster Harvest"

JULY 2018 - NO REGULATION CHANGES

JUNE 2018

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-240-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO TANGIER ISLAND CRAB SCRAPE SANCTUARY"

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

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

MAY 2018

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

APRIL 2018

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-752-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO BLUE CRAB SANCTUARIES"

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

MARCH 2018

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

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

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

FEBRUARY 2018

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"

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-960-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO TAUTOG"

JANUARY 2018

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

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