Agency News

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

March 2020

March 23, 2020:  Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind project has announced an upcoming deployment of a new metbuoy and offshore survey work within and near the Kitty Hawk Offshore wind lease area. [Notice]

March 17, 2020: Click on the following link for important interim procedures for commercial fishermen and JPA Permit Holders and Applicants during VMRC's COVID-19 office closure [VMRC COVID-19 Interim Procedures]

March 16, 2020:  the VMRC main office on Ft. Monroe and other agency field offices are closed until further notice per Governor Northam's closure of all State facilities in the Peninsula Health District as a result of a small cluster of COVID-19 cases on the Peninsula. Next week's Commission meeting scheduled for March 24, 2020 has been cancelled. The Commission's Marine Police Operations Center will remain open for emergency services only, and Marine Police Officers will remain in the field. Citizens are encouraged to use the Agency's toll free number, 800-541-4646, to report emergencies, boating accidents and marine resource violations.  For additional information visit the Governor's COVID-19 web page. [Virginia COVID-19 Updates]

March 13, 2020:  the blue crab season starts next Tuesday, March 17, for commercial crab and peeler pots and two recreational crab pots. The season for all other commercial crab gears will open Wednesday, April 1 and the season for the recreational five pot license opens June 1. If you're catching blue crabs recreationally, check out the VMRC's new recreational crabbing page for more information on licensing, seasons, size limits, possession limits, sponge crabs, and gear restrictions. For an index of commercial crab regulations, see here.

March 11, 2020:  VMRC seeks participants for its new Menhaden Management Advisory Committee (MMAC): The Virginia Marine Resources Commission is seeking individuals with knowledge of the menhaden resource to participate in it new Menhaden Management Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to provide guidance to the VMRC on the sustainable management of the menhaden resource and harvest of the bait and reduction fisheries in the waters of the Commonwealth, including the Chesapeake Bay. Per the Code of Virginia, the Committee shall consist of nonlegislative citizen members who are residents of the Commonwealth and will be appointed by the Commissioner. Representation will include one person from each of the following: 1) the menhaden reduction fishery; 2) the menhaden bait fishery; 3) a labor organization involved in the menhaden fishery; 4) a recreational angler; 5) a member of a Virginia-based conservation organization; 6) the sportfishing industry; and 7) the Virginia appointee to the Atlantic Menhaden Technical Committee of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Up to five at-large seats may be appointed at the discretion of the Commissioner.

Applications are available at [MMAC Membership Application]. Applications and inquiries should be sent to fisheries@mrc.virginia.gov (Attn: MMAC in the subject header). Deadline for applications is close of business on March 27th.

March 4, 2020: REMINDER FOR COMMERCIAL SPECKLED TROUT HARVESTERS AND BUYERS: Effective 6:00 P.M., Wednesday, October 16, 2019, the 2019/2020 Virginia commercial speckled trout fishery has closed, and will remain closed until September 1, 2020. Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and speckled trout harvesters, Virginia has harvested and landed 100% of the 51,104 pound quota. [Notice]

March 2, 2020: VMRC will be hosting public scoping hearings for ASMFC and MAFMC at 5 PM and 6 PM at the VMRC Main Office. At 5 PM, ASMFC staff will present information on the Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass, and Scup Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment. At 6 PM, VMRC staff will present information on the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. Supplemental  below. Comments may be submitted at the public hearings or online at these links [ASMFC SFSBSB Comments | MAFMC Bluefish Comments].  Scoping and Public Information Documents can be found at the preceding comments links. For more information, contact Chief of Fisheries Pat Geer at Pat.Geer@mrc.virginia.gov.

February 2020

February 27, 2020: The procedure for obtaining a Shellfish Icing Permit during Warm Water Harvest has changed. See [Notice]

February 25, 2020: The results of today's Commission meeting have been posted. [Meeting Summary]

As of Tuesday February 18, 2020, 80% of Virginia's 2019/2020 commercial spiny dogfish quota has been landed. Chapter 4VAC 20-490-46, states that when it has been projected and announced by the Marine Resources Commission that 80% of the Virginia spiny dogfish quota has been landed, each Virginia seafood buyer shall call the Marine Resources Commission's interactive voice recording system on a daily basis to report the exact weight of spiny dogfish received or purchased, in pounds. If you are a federal dealer that purchases spiny dogfish, you can meet this reporting requirement by calling 757-552-6413. [Notice]

January 2020

January 30, 2020:  The Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Safety announces the issuance of Emergency Shellfish Condemnation # 046-081B "West of Allens Island" in the York River effective Thursday January 30, 2020 through Wednesday February 19, 2020. This is a separate from Emergency Closure # 046-081A "Allens Island" also in the York River that was effective January 24, 2020. This closure is a result of notification of a Norovirus Outbreak in Central Virginia with an epidemiological link to shellfish harvested from a private lease located in this area. These waters are scheduled to reopen on Thursday February 20, 2020. Please direct any questions to Division of Shellfish Safety Central Office staff at 804-864-7480. [VDH Notice]

January 29, 2020: Effective 12:01 A.M., Monday, February 24, 2020, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery will open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. The landing limit for the Offshore (EEZ) Fishery from February 24 through March 31, 2020 is 12,500 pounds. Vessels may land a maximum of 12,500 pounds for the entire period of February 24 through March 31, 2020. [Notice]

January 29, 2020: VMRC staff member Vernon "Brody" Rowe, and former VMRC staff member, Vas Dunstan, were awarded Certificates of Valor by the USCG for their heroic, lifesaving actions during an July 2018 boating accident on the James River. Mr. Rowe and Mr. Dunstan worked together to assist and revive an unconscious and drowning passenger of recreational boat that had collided with a commercial barge, and were credited with saving the boaters life. For other results of yesterday's Commission meeting click on the following link. [Meeting Summary]

January 28, 2020: Fish on! The 2020 February recreational black sea bass fishing season will start February 1st and end on February 29th, 2020. We want to remind all anglers that a recreational black sea bass permit is required ONLY for the captain or operator of the vessel and that it is their responsibility to report all trips taken and black sea bass caught or released during the 2020 February recreational black sea bass season. For more details, see the following link. [Notice]

January 27, 2020:  ATTENTION shellfish harvesters working in vicinity of VDH condemned areas: beginning in 2017, the Commission made available a mobile app that uses smartphone GPS to show the phone users position relative to shellfish leases and other map features, including condemnation zones provided by VDH. If you are user of the VMRC map app please be advised that the app while designed to update map information regularly may not automatically update on all models of mobile devices. If you are using the app to determine condemned areas relative to open harvest areas please make sure the VMRC map app on your phone is up to date and properly displaying the condemnation zones. One place to check is under the app's Open Oyster Harvest Area menu option, you should see open harvest areas (in olive green) and VDH condemnation zones (in light purple). If you are not seeing the condemnation zones properly please reinstall the app or use the "Download Map Overlays" feature under the App Options menu choice. The app is available from the Apple or Google app stores, search for "VMRC Maps" on your smartphone to install. As all harvesters are already aware, it is critical that shellfish not be harvested in areas closed by MRC or VDH. It is the harvester's responsibility to always be aware of MRC and VDH closures and make responsible use of online web and web map tools to ensure they work only in areas open to harvest and not closed due to VDH condemnations. Note that the "VDH Shellfish Safety Notifications" web page is the best place to view the most up to date VDH closure information. Please use the following links to learn more about online map resources to help you determine open harvest areas and areas closed by VDH. [VDH Shellfish Safety Notifications | VDH Web Map | VMRC Map App | MRC Web Map]

January 24, 2020: 
The Virginia Department of Health, Division of Shellfish Safety announces the issuance of Emergency Shellfish Condemnation # 046-081A "Allens Island" in the York River near the mouth of the Perrin River effective Friday January 24, 2020 through Thursday February 13, 2020. This closure is a result of notification of a Norovirus Outbreak in Central Virginia with an epidemiological link to shellfish harvested from a private lease located in this area. These waters are scheduled to reopen on Friday February 14, 2020. Please direct any questions to Division of Shellfish Safety Central Office staff at 804-864-7480. [VDH Notice]

January 13, 2020:
Avangrid Renewables, the developer of the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Project has posted their Fisheries Communications Plan.

January 11, 2020:
 
Out of an abundance of caution and in consultation with FDA, the Division of Shellfish Safety announces emergency closure # 031-102A "Parrott Island" in the Rappahannock River has been reissued extending the closed period from Saturday January 11, 2020 through Wednesday January 15, 2020. Click on the emergency closure referenced on the Division's home page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/shellfish. These waters are scheduled to reopen on Thursday January 16, 2020. Please direct any questions to Division of Shellfish Safety Central Office staff at 804-864-7480.

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Important Links

VMRC Mobile
Chesapeake Bay Plate
VRSFDF
Buy Recrecational Licenses
Fisherman Identification Program
VMRC Regulations
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Anglers Guide