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Fisheries Management

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The Fisheries Management Division carries out current and long-term State policies effecting saltwater fisheries--recreational and commercial in Virginia's tidal waters. The Division's goal is to provide the maximum benefit and long-term use of the Commonwealth's finfish and shellfish resources through conservation and enhancement. Its objectives are: 1) to collect comprehensive and timely statistics and information on Virginia's fisheries to determine fishery stock conditions; 2) to develop fisheries management plans for commercially and recreationally important species found in Virginia waters; 3) to promote recreational fishing activity by the development of artificial fishing reefs and the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament; and 4) to participate in organizations at the interstate and federal level regarding Virginia's fisheries and their management.

The Division's Fisheries Plans and Statistics Department monitors Virginia's finfish and shellfish fisheries and provides this information for management purposes.

Any registered commercial fisherman shall report daily harvest, submitted monthly. These data are entered into computers in the Plans/Statistics office where they can be quickly sorted and retrieved to help in decision making or to respond to data requests from individuals, universities, or other resource management agencies. The Plans/Statistics staff has developed many computer databases for the Marine Fisheries Statistics System, and is participating in the setting up of the federal Northeast Marine Fisheries Information System.

The Plans/Statistics section is also responsible for the development of fisheries management plans which provide strategic, long­term management recommendations for Virginia's marine fish species. The criteria for setting priorities for fishery management plan development are status of the stock, status of knowledge of the species, and landings volume and value. These plans are based on the best biological and socioeconomic information available.

Fisheries Management Advisory Committees, composed of representatives of fisheries interest groups, have been appointed by the Commissioner of the Marine Resources Commission to help in the preparation and carrying out of fisheries management plans. Fishery management plans for oyster, blue crab, shad and herring, striped bass, weakfish, bluefish, spotted sea trout, black drum, and red drum, spot and croaker have been completed.

The Fisheries Management Division helps in management planning with other states, the federal government, and interstate management organizations. The Potomac River Fisheries Commission, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and Mid­Atlantic Fisheries Management Council are among these regional organizations.

The Division's Artificial Reef Department enhances recreational fishing opportunities through the construction of artificial fishing reefs. Twenty sites have been established; fifteen in Chesapeake Bay and five in the Atlantic. A variety of "materials of opportunity", such as steel vessel hulls and demolition concrete have been used as well as specifically designed habitat structures. Most of the sites are marked with yellow 'special purpose" buoys, established and maintained by the Artificial Reef Program.

The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament operates a trophy fish citation program for marine recreational fishermen and promotes Virginia's diverse tidal fishing opportunities. The program manages a database of citation records dating from 1958, which is utilized for recreational fisheries management purposes.

Related Links:

Virginia Recreational Assessment Program

Conservation and Replenishment Department

Recreational Fishing Information

Commercial Fishing Information

Licenses: A list of Commercial and Recreational Licenses

Shellfish Aquaculture

Pfiesteria Information

Final Report and Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Oyster Panel

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