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2011 Agency News

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

December 2011

December 22, 2011:  Effective 11:59 P.M., Eastern Standard Time, Saturday, December 31, 2011, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close. For further details, to include information on the offshore summer flounder bycatch fishery beginning after December 31, 2011, please see the notice. <Closure Notice>

December 9, 2011:
  The Virginia Institute of Marine Science Marine Extension Program will host two workshops in December to help watermen and aquaculturists put together applications for 2012 Fisheries Resource Grant funding. <Workshop Announcement>

December 6, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has enacted new restrictions on the recreational and commercial harvest of Tautog in order to comply with a federal requirement to begin rebuilding a fishery deemed to be lagging coast-wide.  In order to cut the harvest in half, the Tautog season will be closed for recreational fishing from mid-April to mid-September. <Meeting Summary>

December 5, 2011:  Effective 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Wednesday, December 7, 2011, the Virginia commercial spiny dogfish fishery will close. Based on landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers, it is projected that permitted commercial harvesters will have landed 100% of the 2,148,224 pound state quota by the above date and time. As provided by Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-42, after the quota has been landed, it shall be unlawful for any person to harvest or to land in Virginia any spiny dogfish for commercial purposes (subsection D) and it shall be unlawful for any buyer of seafood to receive any spiny dogfish (subsection F), through April 30, 2012 (subsection A).  Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EST, December 7, 2011, it shall be unlawful for any person harvesting spiny dogfish for commercial purposes to possess or land spiny dogfish in Virginia until May 1, 2012. <Closure Notice>

December 2, 2011: 
Beginning Sunday, December 4, 2011, all Virginia seafood buyers purchasing spiny dogfish shall call the Commission’s interactive voice recording system (1-800-937-9247), on a daily basis, and report the daily harvest purchased from registered commercial fisherman permitted for this fishery, to include the commercial fisherman’s registration license number and exact weight of spiny dogfish landed in pounds. The call-in shall continue until it is projected and announced that the Virginia spiny dogfish quota has been landed and the fishery is closed. When calling the interactive voice recording system (1-800-937-9247), first select Option 2, then select Option 6, for reporting daily harvests of spiny dogfish purchased from any registered commercial fisherman. Any outstanding weekly written reports, through Saturday, December 3, 2011, are due to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission by 12:00 P.M. (NOON) EST, Monday, December 5, 2011.

October 2011

Oct. 26, 2011:  Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Monday, November 14, 2011, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will re-open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License.  The cumulative landing limit for the Directed Fishery is 10,000 pounds in each fifteen-day landing period.  The first fifteen-day landing period will begin November 14, 2011, and end November 28, 2011.  Subsequent landing periods will be subject to quota availability. For more details, please see the attached opening notice. <Notice>

Oct. 25, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted to open the fall commercial flounder fishery in two weeks, and has put three commercial watermen on probation for a year (and suspended the license of one of them) for failing to report their harvests monthly as required. <Meeting Summary>

Oct. 12, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission won an Award of Excellence at the State Fair of Virginia for the agency’s fascinating, interactive display of common and lesser known fish species found in the Chesapeake Bay.  Tens of thousands of fair-goers viewed tanks full of native fish, including black sea bass, pompano, sea robins, flounder, black drum, and marveled at specimens of blue crabs, cownose rays and bluntnose stingrays.  Agency fishery staffers were on hand to inform and answer questions.  Visitors were allowed to touch prehistoric-looking horseshoe crabs, which are more closely related to spiders than to the tasty blue crab.  Officers of the Virginia Marine Police, one of the oldest law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth, dating back to the 1800s, distributed literature, answered questions and promoted boating safety.  This was the fifth year in a row that the agency has won an award at the Fair, which ran for 11 days, from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9.

September 2011

Sept. 27, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted 9-0 to close the winter crab dredge fishery season for the fourth year in a row.  The Commission decided the action was necessary in order to continue to rebuild the crab stock, and that while great progress has been made more work remains to be done to bring the population back to healthy, sustainable levels.  Also, the Commission voted 9-0 to set the 2011-2012 oyster season regulations, including a 10 bushel daily limit for most public oyster grounds and a 30 bushel vessel limit. <Oyster Ground Harvest Season Details> <Meeting Summary>

Sept. 23, 2011:  Effective 12:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Friday, September 23, 2011, 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 trawl quota, by the above date and time.  All other horseshoe crab fisheries were closed on June 10, 2011, and as of the above date and time, the entire Virginia horseshoe crab fishery is closed.  Therefore, after 12:00 P.M., EST, September 23, 2011, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia shall be prohibited (Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.). <Notice>

Sept. 2, 2011:  Virginia’s commercial fishermen who suffered equipment losses as a direct result of Hurricane Irene should report their losses to their counties.  Losses will be tabulated by each county’s emergency services coordinators and reported to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  Such information may be important in the event disaster assistance becomes available.  VMRC has received scattered reports that some commercial fishing gear, particularly large fixed fishing devices such as pound nets, were seriously damaged by the hurricane.

August 2011

August 23, 2011:  Commissioner Steven G. Bowman has lifted the time-of-day restrictions on the commercial harvest of crabs for the next three days in order to give crabbers additional time to get their crab pots out of the water before Hurricane Irene makes landfall on Sunday.  This is aimed at reducing the amount of crab gear that could be lost or set adrift to the potential detriment of the environment and moored vessels. <Press Release>

August 23, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s monthly meeting was adjourned abruptly mid-meeting when an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale forced the evacuation of agency headquarters.  The Commission will reschedule a public hearing and vote on the issues that were unaddressed, including the proposed closure of the winter crab dredge fishery and the harvest rules for the 2011-2012 oyster season. <Meeting Summary>

August 23, 2011:  Effective 0001 hours, August 26, 2011, the fishery for spiny dogfish in federal waters (Exclusive Economic Zone from 3 to 200 miles offshore) is closed.  Vessels issued Federal permits for spiny dogfish may not fish for, possess, transfer, or land any spiny dogfish until 001, November 1, 2011, from federal waters, at which time the Period 2 quota for the 2011 fishing year becomes available.  This means vessel issued Federal permits may not fish for, possess, transfer, or land spiny dogfish, whether caught in state or Federal waters until 001, November 1, 2011.  However, the spiny dogfish fishery within Virginia state waters remains open, see notice for further information:  [Notice]

August 9, 2011:  An important new scientific assessment of the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab stock has been released by the federal government, setting higher abundance thresholds and crab population targets that will dictate how the agency manages the fisheries in the years to come.  While gains have been made to rebuild the population, the assessment shows that much work remains to be done.  You can read the entire peer-reviewed stock assessment here:  http://hjort.cbl.umces.edu/crabs/Assessment.html <Press Release>

July 2011

July 26, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is poised to enact crab management harvest measures that will continue a stock-rebuilding initiative that has resulted in great improvements over the past three years, but which need to continue in order to meet new harvest targets and population thresholds established in a new, peer-reviewed scientific stock assessment. <Meeting Summary>

June 2011

June 29, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has enacted a ban on the possession of river herring in state waters, due to a collapse in the stock over the past 40 years and in order to comply with an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission fishery management plan.  River herring was once a food staple in Virginia, and recreational herring dipping is still considered to be an important part of the culture in some sections of the Commonwealth. <Meeting Summary>

June 9, 2011:  Effective 12:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Friday, June 10, 2011, the Virginia Horseshoe Crab fisheries for hand harvest, dredge, and the other gear category (including gillnet and pound net) will close for the year.  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 for these three gear categories (hand harvest, dredge, and other), by the above date and time.  Therefore, after 12:00 P.M., EST, June 10, 2011, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia harvested by hand, dredge, and other gear shall be prohibited (Regulation 4 VAC 20-900-10 et. seq.).  Only permitted harvesters using trawl gear shall be allowed to possess and land horseshoe crabs. <Notice>

June 2, 2011:  Commissioner Steve Bowman has approved alternate summer operating hours for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's main office, 2600 Washington Ave., Newport News.  Effective Monday, June 6th, 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 on Friday, September 2nd.

June 1, 2011:  The largest snowy grouper ever caught in Virginia on a rod and reel has been certified by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission as a state record.  The astonishing 70-pound, 7-ounce fish was caught by Roger Burnley of Virginia Beach on May 22, 2011 near the Norfolk Canyon.  It may also qualify with the International Game Fish Association as an all-tackle record for snowy grouper. <Press Release>

May 2011

May 27, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is reminding license-exempt saltwater anglers to register with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program before they go fishing this year.  So far, only 21,000 out of an estimated 750,000 anglers have registered.  It’s free, quick and easy.  Anglers who don’t need a saltwater fishing license, do need to register. <Press Release>

May 27, 2011: Governor Robert F. McDonnell today appointed two new Associate Commissioners to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. They are Whitt G. Sessoms III and Joseph C. Palmer Jr., both from Virginia Beach. They will take their positions in July. Their appointments are for four years. Mr. Sessoms will take the seat on the nine-member Commission that has been held by J.T. Holland of Nassawadox. Mr. Palmer will take the seat designated by state law to be filled by a commercial fisherman, and has been held by Ernie Bowden of Chincoteague.

“I want to thank Mr. Bowden and Mr. Holland for their eight years each of dedicated service on the Commission,’’ said Commissioner Steven G. Bowman. “They have worked long and hard to help us preserve our natural resources. I value their efforts and their friendship, and I look forward to serving with Mr. Sessoms and Mr. Palmer as we together strive to better our Commonwealth.”

Mr. Palmer has been a commercial fisherman for more than four decades, since he was 13 years old and harvested blue crabs, horseshoe crabs and other species. He also has a law enforcement background, having served for 27 years on the Virginia Beach Police Department. He retired from that position as a sergeant in 2005. He is married to Jizel Palmer, and has two children, Tammy Lynn and Joseph Palmer III. He enjoys fishing, martial arts and loves to travel to the Caribbean. 

Mr. Sessoms is President of Cape Development and Real Estate Co., which is involved in land development in Southeast Virginia and Northeast North Carolina. He also is a partner in Fisherman’s Wharf Marina located in Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach. He a graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He and his wife, Terri, have three sons, Jennings, Jack, and Neysi. They live in the North End of Virginia Beach. He and his family enjoys fishing, surfing, and sailing in the ocean.

May 24, 2011:
  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has approved a pilot program to allow commercial crabbers to work earlier in the day, as a concession made at the request of some crabbers.  Those crabbers issued alternate work hour permits will be allowed to start working their crab pots earlier in a day, but not for more hours in a day. <Meeting Summary>

May 11, 2011:  Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner Steven G. Bowman has designated June 3-5 as free saltwater fishing days in Virginia.  No fishing license of any kind will be required for recreational saltwater rod and reel fishing during these three days.  All fishing regulations, including size, season, catch limits and gear restrictions, will remain in effect.  <Press Release>

April 2011

April 28, 2011:  Effective 9:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST), Thursday, May 5, 2011, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close.  Vessels that have entered Virginia waters and secured to an offloading site prior to 9:00 P.M., EST, Thursday, May 5, 2011 may possess and offload 10,000 pounds of Summer Flounder, minus any previous landings during the fifteen-day landing period.  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 2,406,498 pounds of Summer Flounder by the above date and time. For further details, see the attached notice. <Notice>

April 26, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted to approve a minor tweak to the blue crab sanctuary boundary in the Northern Neck, and to close the entire sanctuary two weeks later than last year, on May 16, but decided to postpone major decisions on crab management regulations until the end of the summer, after results of a new, peer reviewed stock assessment are available. <Meeting Summary>

April 20, 2011:  Effective 9:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST), Thursday, April 21, 2011, it shall be unlawful for any harvester permitted for the black sea bass bycatch fishery to possess aboard any vessel, or to land in Virginia, more than 100 pounds of black sea bass. <Notice

April 19, 2011: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Maryland fishery managers today announced that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is at its second highest level since 1997 and well above the target for the third year in a row. The results of the 2011 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey indicate that management measures put into place in 2008 to conserve female crabs are continuing to pay dividends for the crab population, the seafood industry, recreational crabbers and those who just plain enjoy the Bay’s favorite crustacean. <Press Release>

March 2011

March 29, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has given a green-light to geological sampling off Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore in order to determine the site’s suitability for a prototype five megawatt wind turbine generator, which, if approved, would be the first physical manifestation of the state’s drive to become a large-scale green-energy producer. <Meeting Summary>

March 24, 2011:  The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has announced that the southern region quota for spiny dogfish is projected to be harvested by Friday, March 25, 2011.  Therefore, effective 12:01 A.M. EST on Friday, March 25, 2011, the commercial spiny dogfish fishery will close, prohibiting the commercial landing, harvest, and possession of spiny dogfish in state waters, until May 1, 2011.  <Notice>

February 2011

February 22, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted to lower the recreational size limit for flounder, allowing anglers to keep more of the flounder they catch this year.  This was possible due to a higher quota from an increase in biomass over the past few years.  The new size limit will be 17.5 inches, with a four fish possession limit and no closed season.  Last year’s limits were 18.5 inches with a four fish possession limit and no closed season.  <Post Meeting Summary>

February 4, 2011:  Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, Monday, March 7, 2011, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. <Notice

February 1, 2011
Online registration for the new Fisherman Identification Program is now 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.  Anglers may register online here.  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.

January 2011

January 25, 2011:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is poised to lower the recreational flounder size limit, which would allow anglers to keep more of the fish they catch.  The Commission agreed to advertise a public hearing in February, and a vote, on lowering the limit.  The current size limit is 18.5 inches, with a four fish possession limit.  Reduction options include an 18-inch, four-fish limit or a 17.5-inch size limit, with either a three or four fish creel limit.  Also, the Commission voted to table the creation of aquaculture opportunity zones until the Virginia General Assembly decides whether to repeal the law that requires their creation. <Post Meeting Summary>

January 21, 2011:  Governor Robert F. McDonnell has reappointed John E. “Ed” Tankard, III, to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission for a second four-year term.  Mr. Tankard is president of Tankard Nurseries, Inc. of Exmore and lives on the Eastern Shore. <Biography>


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Recent Regulations

DECEMBER  2011

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

OCTOBER  2011

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"

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

SEPTEMBER  2011

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-140-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO IDENTIFICATION OF CRAB POTS, PEELER POTS AND FISH POTS"

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

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1040-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO CRABBING LICENSES"

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

JULY  2011

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1050-10, ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO ESTABLISHMENT OF RESTRICTED AREA - HUNTINGTON INGALLS INDUSTRIES/NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING COMPANY"

JUNE  2011

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-430-10, ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE MARKING AND MINIMUM MESH SIZE OF GILL NETS" 

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-430-10, ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RIVER HERRING"    

MAY  2011

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

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

APRIL  2011

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

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

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

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1250-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAGGING OF SHELLFISH"      

MARCH  2011

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-280-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SPECKLED TROUT AND RED DRUM"

FEBRUARY  2011

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-530-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO AMERICAN SHAD"

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

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

JANUARY  2011

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

REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1060-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO ENLARGEMENT OF RESTRICTED AREA - 
DOMINION POWER/NUCLEAR POWER STATION"

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

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

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

 

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