December 8, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has decided
to close Pultz Bar in Mobjack Bay, which was scheduled to open for harvest on
January 1, in order to protect an exceptionally large spatset that should yield
higher harvests when they grow to market size. The Towe Stake area in Mobjack
Bay will open as scheduled on January 1. The Commission also agreed, on a trial
basis, to allow hand tongs as a legal gear type on public grounds for the
seaside on the Eastern Shore in what had been hand-harvest only areas. Watermen
using hand tongs on those seaside grounds will have to purchase the All Gear
Oyster User Fee ($300), rather than the By Hand Only User Fee ($50) and will be
confined to a daily possession limit of eight bushels per licensee.
Also, at industry’s request, the Commission decided to switch the third month of the James River handscrape season from March to January. As a result, the James River handscrape areas will be open from January 1 through January 31, 2016. As a reminder, after January 1, harvest on all oyster handscrape and dredge areas will be allowed on Monday through Friday. The oyster harvest has skyrocketed in recent years, climbing from 24,000 bushels in 2003 to almost 660,000 bushels last year. [Updates on Harvest Season Openings] [Virginia Oyster Harvests, 1958-2015] [Commission Meeting Summary]
December 8, 2015: December 2015 Summer Flounder offshore landing limits have changed. [Notice]
November 1, 2015: Effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Sunday,
November 1, 2015, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will
re-open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. [Notice]
October 15, 2015: The Division of Shellfish Sanitation has
rescinded Emergency Closure # 69N for the James River effective Thursday October
15, 2015. All shellfish harvesting waters have returned to their prior
classification according to routine criteria. [VDH
October 13, 2015: The Commission will hold public hearings at the October 27, 2015 Commission Meeting concerning amendments for regulations pertaining to the marking of oyster ground leases and the marking of aquaculture structures within such leases. The public notice and the draft regulations can be found here: [Habitat Notice]
September 22, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today
repealed regulations that would have established a limited entry system for the
public oyster fishery. As a result, watermen will be able to keep their oyster
hand scrape or dredge licenses. A limited entry system will be examined further
in the months to come. [Commission Meeting Summary]
September 19, 2015: Governor Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed September 18-26, 2015 as National Estuaries Week in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the North America. Its health plays a vital role in Virginia’s economy, culture and in our important recreational and commercial tidal fisheries. Read Governor McAuliffe’s proclamation here and view a VMRC-produced video here.
August 26, 2015: To protect the oyster stocks, the stability of the oyster fishery and future productivity of the public oyster beds, the Commission voted to prohibit harvesting on Fridays during the October – December 2015 oyster season. The Commission also voted to allow a maximum of 8 bushels per man, with the vessel limit determined by the number of registered commercial licensees. For the 2016-17 oyster season, the Commission voted to limit entry into the oyster fishery starting on January 1, 2016. Licensees that reported less than 20 days of harvest during the 2013-14 and/or 2014/15 oyster harvest seasons become ineligible to gear licenses. Additional gear restrictions were adopted for both the upcoming season and new season beginning in 2016. [Commission Meeting Summary]
August 7, 2015: The tilefish/grouper recreational landing permit
required for all vessels to land tilefish and grouper in Virginia has been
available for several years at MRC license agents and can continue to be
obtained at our license agents. As of Spring 2015, the permit can also obtained
by the angler directly via a new online process; once the appropriate
information is provided the no-cost permit is issued immediately via email. Note
that Tilefish and Grouper Landing Permittees are required to submit a monthly
harvest report to the Commission no later than the fifth day of the following
month of harvest or fishing; web links to the paper reporting form and the
Saltwater Journal online harvest reporting system follow. Note too that there is
a one fish possession limit for grouper and a 7 fish possession limit for
tilefish; use our saltwater fishing rules page to check on current recreational
fishing rules, citation sizes and state records. [Online No-Cost Permit Process
| VMRC License Agent Locations |
Add Un-Registered Vessel Form |
Reporting Form | SWJ Online Reporting System |
Saltwater Fishing Rules |
July 28, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today
approved a no-cost, streamlined general permit for construction of living
shoreline in order to protect waterfront properties. This expedited permit
option is now available to commercial and residential waterfront property owners. Living shorelines provide valuable ecological benefits. In other action, the Commission signaled it will consider potential reductions in wild caught oyster fishery participation in order to prevent overfishing and damage to public oyster stocks that are showing
signs of reduced abundance. [Commission Meeting Summary | Final Living Shoreline General Permit Regulation]
July 22, 2015: the Commission will hold a public hearing at the July 28, 2015 Commission Meeting on a proposed general permit regulation to provide a streamlined permitting process for certain living shoreline treatments involving tidal wetlands. The public notice and the draft regulation can be found here: [Habitat Public Notice | Draft Regulation]
June 4, 2015: A break in a sewage pipe caused a sewage spill into a tributary of the Northwest Branch of Back River in the city of Hampton. Due to potential microbiological pollution hazards, an emergency closure has been established in a portion of the River. A copy of the notice and map of the area is available at
this link [VDH
Notice]. The emergency closure is effective June 4 - 25, 2015. The affected area is scheduled to reopen June 25, 2015. The Division of Shellfish Sanitation will monitor shellfish and water quality during this period to determine if the area can be reopened sooner.
June 3, 2015: The VMRC Fisheries Newsletter is now available ! Read it here. [Fisheries Newsletter]
June 2, 2015: New Law Increases Penalties on Oyster Thieves ~ Licenses now can be revoked for up to five years and financial penalties up to $10,000 can be imposed if revocations are ignored. [Press Release]
June 1, 2015: Landing limit reduction for the pound net permittees in the 2015 Virginia horseshoe crab fishery effective 12:00 (Noon) Tuesday, June 2, 2015 and closure of the 2015 pound net horseshoe crab fishery effective 12:00 (Noon) Wednesday, June 3, 2015. [Notice]
May 26, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to stay the course in continuing to build blue crab stock abundance, maintaining daily bushel limits and only tinkering with crab sanctuary boundaries. However, the Commission decided to delay until fall a decision on whether to reopen the winter dredge fishery this year, in order for its crab management advisory committee to study how doing so would impact the other blue crab fisheries in this period of relatively low stock abundance.
[Commission Meeting Summary]
May 25, 2015: Upcoming Free Fishing Days Announced ! June 5, 6, and 7, 2015 have been designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in freshwater or saltwater, except in designated stocked trout waters, on these days. [Press Release]
May 21, 2015 -- ATTENTION GILL NET LICENSEES: the Commission has had reports of the new metal tags being used to mark gill nets this year breaking off. In some cases, the tags are being zip tied to the PVC flag staff using two of the holes on the tag on the short end of the metal tag – the connection is tight, but wave action apparently is flexing the metal plate until the metal tag breaks off at the corners. Gill net licensees should review the advisory at the following web link to see what alternatives they have for tag and license decal attachment. [Gill Net Tag Advisory]
April 30, 2015: Horseshoe crab closure announced: it shall be unlawful for any valid horseshoe crab commercial general category permittee to possess aboard any vessel or to land any number of horseshoe crabs in excess of 125 per day effective Sunset, Thursday, April 30, 2015.
After Sunset, May 3, 2015, the possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia by gears other than trawl, dredge, pound net, or by hand shall be prohibited (Chapter 4 VAC 20-900-10 et seq.).[Closure
April 28, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today was briefed on a moderate increase in blue crab abundance in the Chesapeake Bay and agreed to hold a public hearing and vote in May on possible adjustments to the crab sanctuary boundaries and modifications to the peeler crab season. The stock has improved overall, but spawning-age females are not as high as they should be. In other action, the Commission revoked for two years the Virginia fishing licenses held by a Maryland resident who was caught illegally catching oysters in Virginia’s waters, and banned another waterman from the striped bass fishery for two years for egregious misuse of striped bass tags. [Meeting Summary]
April 27, 2015 ANNUAL WINTER DREDGE SURVEY - VMRC, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission jointly released today the results of the 2015 blue crab winter dredge survey which showed moderate improvement in the health of the stock, despite a cold winter that killed an inordinately large number of crabs. The survey is conducted annually by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. [Press Release]
April 23, 2015, A 606-pound bluefin tuna, caught on April 6, 2015 by Chase Robinson, of Virginia Beach, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Robinson’s catch surpasses the existing record of 573-pounds, caught in June of 2007 by Frederick “Bo” Haycox of Virginia Beach. [Press Release]
April 17, 2015, Attention Commercial and For-Hire Recreational Fishing industries:
the State of Virginia is working on a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) funded project to develop site specific BMPs for the VA Wind Energy Area (WEA) and a Communication Strategy targeted to the Commercial and For-Hire Recreational Fishing industries to inform them of engagement opportunities and information relative to the VA WEA. We are seeking your participation in the upcoming April 21rst meeting from
6:30-7:30 PM at the VB Aquarium and Marine Science Center. This meeting is intended for the Commercial and Charter Fishing Industries only, focused efforts for the general recreational communities will commence in upcoming meetings.
If you have any questions about this meeting or project please contact Todd V. Janeski at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804.828.5258.
on Offshore Wind Energy Fisheries Planning]
April 16, 2015: Accurate accounting of Trophy Striped Bass caught during the spring season is essential to maintaining this fishery. To this end, striped bass rules adopted in December 2014 require Virginia recreational saltwater fishermen participating in the Spring Trophy Season (May 1 – May 15 coastal and May 1- June 15 Bay and tribs; minimum size limit 36 inches) to obtain a no-cost permit. The permit is only required for trophy striped bass fishermen 16 or older and not fishing on a legally licensed headboat or charter boat. The new no-cost trophy permit can be obtained at VMRC license agents or can also be obtained by the fisherman directly via a new online process: [New Online No-Cost Permit Process] [VMRC License Agent Locations]. Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay and tributaries spring slot limit season opens May 16 and runs through June 15. During this period recreational anglers can keep two striped bass between 20 and 28 inches. However, anglers possessing a Trophy Striped Bass Permit may keep one trophy-sized striped bass (36 inches or greater) as one of their two-fish possession limit. [Striper Regulation Summary Card]
April 3, 2015: Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Monday, April 6, 2015, the commercial directed menhaden gill net fishery will be closed. Based on landing reports from mandatory harvest reporting and Virginia seafood buyers, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the 1,521,108 pounds of the directed menhaden gill net quota, by Monday, April 6, 2015. Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EDST, April 6, 2015 it shall be unlawful to harvest or land more than 6,000 pounds of menhaden per day, for commercial purposes, by use of gill net in Virginia, for the remainder of 2015. [Closure Notice]
March 26, 2015: Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Sunday, April 19, 2015, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will close [Closure Notice]March 24, 2015: The Commission voted unanimously yesterday to roll back a license fee increase that was enacted in January because of a budget reduction. However, the new state budget passed several weeks ago gives the Virginia Marine Resources Commission sufficient funds to offset the budget reduction. As a result, the license increase is no longer necessary. While the new state budget goes into effect July 1, the Commission felt it was important to roll back the license increase now in order to save anglers money right away. [License Fee Rollback] [March Commission Actions] [Letter to Commercial Industry on Striped Bass Size Limits]
Because some harvesters use barrels rather than bushels, the Commission defined a barrel to be equivalent in volume to no more than 3 bushels of crabs.
Bushel limits after July 4, 2015 will be established by the Commission during the spring of 2015. This spring time-table will allow the most up-to-date results of the 2014/2015 Bay-wide Winter Dredge Survey to be available to develop sustainable bushel limits.
March 12, 2015: Anglers Reel-in over 5000 Citations in 2014 ! Check out the 2014 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament closing press release for more statistics on trophy fish caught in 2014. [Closing Press Release] [Summary] [2014 Leading Entries] [Tournament Page]March 6, 2015: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed [Notice]
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"
REGULATION 4 VAC20-950-10 ET SEQ."PERTAINING TO BLACK SEA BASS"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1090-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND LICENSE FEES"
REGULATION 4 VAC20-1270-10 ET SEQ."PERTAINING TO ATLANTIC MENHADEN"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1280-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO FISHING LICENSE AND PRIVILEGE REVOCATIONS"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-20-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE LICENSING OF FIXED FISHING DEVICES"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS"
EMERGENCY 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 20-1090-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND LICENSE FEES"
EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1280-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO FISHING LICENSE AND PRIVILEGE REVOCATIONS"
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-1290-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON THE HARVEST OF SHELLFISH IN CONDEMNED SHELLFISH AREAS"
EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS" (effective 03/26/2015)
EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS" (effective 03/30/2015)
EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-751-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO THE SETTING AND MESH SIZE OF GILL NETS"
REGULATION 4VAC20-270-10 ET SEQ. “PERTAINING TO CRABBING”
REGULATION 4 VAC 20-450-10, ET SEQ "PERTAINING TO TAKING OF BLUE FISH"
REGULATION 4VAC20-610-10 ET SEQ. “PERTAINING TO COMMERCIAL FISHING AND MANDATORY HARVEST REPORTING”
REGULATION 4 VAC20-620-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO SUMMER FLOUNDER"
EMERGENCY REGULATION 4 VAC 20-720-10 ET SEQ. "PERTAINING TO RESTRICTIONS ON OYSTER HARVEST"