Agency News

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

November 2019

November 22, 2019:  VMRC is holding a Finfish Management Advisory Committee meeting at 6 PM on Monday, November 25, 2019 in the Commission room. The agenda can be found here.

November 18, 2019:  It is projected that 75% of the Virginia commercial black sea bass bycatch fishery quota has been taken.  After Wednesday, November 27, 2019 at 6:00 P.M., vessels holding a 2019 Virginia Black Sea Bass Bycatch Permit will be limited to possessing aboard a vessel or landing in Virginia no more than 100 pounds of black sea bass as bycatch in addition to the North Carolina legal landing limit or trip limit. [Notice]

November 8, 2019:
The annual meeting of the Tournament Committee of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament will be held Monday, November 18th at 380 Fenwick Road, Building 96, Fort Monroe, VA, 6 PM, in the Virginia Marine Resources Commission's Board Room. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 PM and the public is encouraged to attend. [Notice | Agenda]

November 6, 2019: State Record Albacore Tuna Landed: A 70-pound 11-ounce Albacore Tuna, sometimes referred to as "True" Albacore or Longfin Tuna, caught on September 22, 2019 by Wendy Brockenbrough of Virginia Beach, VA, has been certified as a Virginia State Record by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. [Press Release]

November 1, 2019:
VMRC is holding a Finfish Management Advisory Committee meeting at 6 PM on Thursday, November 14, 2019 in the Commission room. The agenda can be found here.

October 2019

October 31, 2019: Notice to offshore fishing fleet east of NC and VA, bathymetric survey activity November 2019 through January 2020. [Notice]

October 22, 2019: 
The results of today's Commission meeting have been posted. [Meeting Summary]

October 16, 2019:
Effective 6:00 P.M., Wednesday, October 16, 2019, the 2019/2020 Virginia commercial speckled trout fishery will close. Based upon landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and speckled trout harvesters, it is projected that Virginia will have harvested and landed 100% of the 51,104 pound quota. [Notice]

October 10, 2019:  The Commission welcomes new Ageing Lab staff, Dr. Hank Liao, Lab Manager, and Jessica Gilmore, Lab Technician. This summer, the former Old Dominion University (ODU) fish ageing lab moved to the Marine Resource Commission offices at Ft. Monroe. Ageing Lab personnel process hundreds of fish otolith and scale samples annually to help determine age and growth characteristics of fish important in Virginia saltwaters. Dr. Liao is also a regular participant in Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) regional fisheries management processes and is a well known expert in fish ageing techniques. Click on the link to learn more about the Ageing Lab. [Ageing Lab]

October 9, 2019:  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has increased the retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark and hammerhead shark management groups (Appendix 1) for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 45 to 55 sharks per vessel per trip effective October 9, 2019.  Per Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "Pertaining to Sharks" state possession limits mirror these new federal possession limits. [NOAA Notice  |   VA Commercial Shark Possession Limits]

October 3, 2019: Virginia's Fall recreational striped bass season starts tomorrow. In Virginia, MRC is promoting "FISH F.A.S.T. FOR STRIPED BASS", encouraging anglers to use non-offset circle hooks while fishing. We hope this measure will decrease the amount of release mortality in our state and improve the long-term health of this resource. [FISH F.A.S.T. with Circle Hooks | New Fall Season Rules]

September 2019

September 30, 2019: An emergency closure of the commercial cobia season is effective tomorrow, October 1, 2019; it shall be unlawful for any person, fishing commercially, to harvest or possess any cobia after today. A public hearing pertaining to this emergency closure will occur on October 22, 2019. [Notice]

Recreational cobia season will also end on September 30th. We have heard that it has been an excellent year for catching cobia in Virginia and want to remind all permittees to report their activity online through the Virginia Saltwater Journal or on paper forms. As a reminder, permittees have until October 21st to report all activity. All permittees are required to report activity by October 21st, even if your activity was "I did not take a cobia trip in 2019". Permittees that do not report by October 21st will not be eligible for a cobia permit in 2020. If you have any questions about the cobia permit or reporting requirements in 2019, please contact VMRC at 757-247-2078. [SWJ Online Reporting | Paper Reporting Form]

September 25, 2019: 
The Commission voted 7-1 yesterday to make last month's emergency amendments as a permanent part of regulation to Chapter 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass," to lower the recreational possession limit to one fish in the Chesapeake Bay area, establish a 36" total length recreational maximum size limit, and establish commercial gill net maximum mesh size requirements in the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal areas.  See the meeting summary for other results of the Commission's monthly meeting. [Meeting Summary]

Effective 12:01 A.M., Tuesday, October 1, 2019, the Directed Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fall Fishery will open for vessels with a Virginia Summer Flounder Endorsement License. [Notice]

September 11, 2019: 
Emergency Closure # 210J for portions of the Lynnhaven River, the lower James River and Back River and their tributaries has been RESCINDED effective Thursday September 12, 2019. All shellfish harvesting waters will return to their prior classification with the exception of the Conditionally Approved waters in the Nansemond River, Lynnhaven River and Linkhorn Bay.  Click here for the status of Conditional Shellfish Harvesting waters. [VDH Notice]

September 6, 2019:
RESCINDED 9/11/19 - see above.  The Virginia Department of Health Division of Shellfish Safety announced today that a portion of Lynnhaven, Lower James and Back Rivers and their tributaries in Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Newport News, Hampton and Poquoson is temporarily closed to shellfish harvesting due to storm surge and rainfall from Hurricane Dorian impacting water quality in these tributaries. Due to potential microbiological pollution hazards, shellfish taken from these areas affected by the emergency closure are currently unacceptable for consumption. The temporary emergency closure is effective September 7, 2019, and is scheduled to reopen effective September 28, 2019.

September 5, 2019: 
Due to inclement weather associated with Hurricane Dorian Commission offices will be closing early at 2PM on Thursday, September 5, 2019 and will be closed Friday, September 6, 2019.

August 2019

August 29, 2019:  A 466-pound swordfish, caught on August 16, 2019 by Tony Gower Jr. of Virginia Beach, VA, has been certified as the new Virginia State Record by the Director of Virginia's Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Gower's catch surpassed the existing record of 446-pounds, caught in October 2012, by Joseph T. Harris, of Virginia Beach. [Press Release]

August 29, 2019:
DRAFT ADDENDUM VI TO AMENDMENT 6 TO THE INTERSTATE FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS -- VMRC will host the ASMFC public hearing at 6:30pm, Monday September 9, 2019 at their Fort Monroe Headquarters. Draft Addendum VI was initiated in response to the 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessment, which indicates the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing. The Draft Addendum explores a range of management alternatives designed to end overfishing and reduce fishing mortality to the target level in 2020. [ ASMFC Notice Draft Addendum VI

DRAFT ADDENDUM VI TO THE SPINY DOGFISH INTERSTATE FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN is available for public comment. The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this document during the public comment period. Comments will be accepted by ASMFC until 5:00 p.m. EST on September 23, 2019.  [ ASMFC NoticeDraft Addendum VI

August 27, 2019: 
The Commission unanimously approved the staff recommendation to adopt the emergency amendments described in sections of Chapter 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq. "Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass," to lower the recreational possession limit in the Chesapeake Bay area and establish commercial maximum mesh size requirements in the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal areas. Staff also recommends this emergency amendment be part of a September public hearing to incorporate the amendments as part of the permanent regulation. Public oyster harvest seasons were also set for 2019-20.  See the meeting summary for other results of the Commission's monthly meeting.  [Meeting Summary 2019-20 Oyster Seasons]

August 16, 2019: 
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has increased the retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark and hammerhead shark management groups (Appendix 1) for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 36 to 45 sharks per vessel per trip effective August 16, 2019.  Per Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "Pertaining to Sharks" state possession limits mirror these new federal possession limits. [NOAA Notice  |   VA Commercial Shark Possession Limits]

July 2019

July 25, 2019:  Commercial Closure for Blueline Tilefish in South Atlantic Federal Waters on July 30, 2019. The commercial harvest of blueline tilefish in federal waters of the South Atlantic (North Carolina to Florida) will close at 12:01 a.m., local time on July 30, 2019. During the commercial closure, all sale or purchase of blueline tilefish is prohibited, and harvest or possession of blueline tilefish in or from federal waters is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits while the recreational sector is open. [NMFS Notice]

July 24, 2019:  The results of yesterday's Commission meeting have been posted. [Meeting Summary]

July 17, 2019: NOAA Fisheries has increased 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 3 to 36 sharks per vessel per trip effective June 25, 2019.  Per Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "Pertaining to Sharks" state possession limits mirror these new federal possession limits. [ASMFC Notice  |   VA Commercial Shark Possession Limits]

June 2019

June 25, 2019: Commissioner Bowman was at the CBF Brock Center on June 25, 2019 to offer remarks on the signing of Senate and House bills relating to oyster ground leasing. Commissioner Bowman also introduced Governor Ralph Northam.

Governor & Commissioner

June 25, 2019: The Commission voted unanimously to approve 57.74 acres of oyster planting ground in Hungars Creek in Northampton County. The Commission also voted unanimously on multiple crab fishery regulations to include: establishing commercial harvest season dates for 2019 and 2020 of March 17 through November 30 for crab pots and April 1 through October 31 for all other gears; closing the 2019-2020 winter crab dredge fishery season; increasing the November bushel limit to match October; and allowing crab license transfers to be based on eligibility rather than a purchased license. [Meeting Summary]

June 24, 2019:  The Agency will be closed to the public on Friday, June 28th for training.

June 18, 2019:  Notice to offshore fishing fleet east of NC and VA of bathymetric survey activity June to October 2019. This summer and fall, Avangrid Renewables will continue to study the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Lease Area (OCS-A 0508) by conducting High Resolution Geophysical Surveys. The purpose of the surveys is to characterize seabed/sub-surface conditions in the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Lease Area. [Notice]

June 11, 2019:  Effective 12 noon, Wednesday, June 12th, 2019, the Virginia horseshoe crab hand harvest commercial fishery will close. The possession or landing of any horseshoe crabs in Virginia by any gear type except trawl or pound net shall be prohibited. [Notice]

May 2019

May 31, 2019:
Fish On! Free Fishing Days Established for Recreational Fishing in Virginia Saltwater areas for June 7-9, 2019. 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 full weekend in June. Take advantage of the free fishing days, June 7, 8, and 9, 2019, and enjoy the great outdoors with your family and friends without having to spend money for a fishing license.

May 28, 2019: 
The Commission voted unanimously to make last month's emergency closure of the spring recreational striped bass trophy season a permanent regulation.  The Commission also adopted a regulation providing for a fast-track permitting program and permit application requirements, in order to authorize the selection and use of appropriate sites for disposal of dredge material on State-owned submerged lands for local government projects in Tidewater Virginia.  Click on the following link to see the full results of today's Commission Meeting.  [Meeting Summary]

May 23, 2019:
Black Sea Bass Recreational Season Closes May 31st -- the Black Sea Bass recreational season will close May 31st. It will re-open again on June 22 and remain opened through December 31. The 21 day closure was necessary to account for quota harvested during the February recreational season.

May 22, 2019: ASMFC Public Hearing on Amendment 1 to the Atlantic Cobia Fishery Management Plan -- VMRC will host a public meeting 6pm, June 12, 2019 at their Fort Monroe Headquarters. The draft amendment addresses a number of issues related to the transition of cobia management from the federal government to the states. Major issued addressed include establishment of processes to define biological reference points and specify harvest, changes to commercial monitoring of landings, clarification of the process for evaluating recreational harvests against state harvest targets, potential changes to commercial fishery management measures, and recommended management measures for federal waters. [Notice | Cobia Information]

May 14, 2019: Pursuant to State Senate Joint Resolution 309, Commission staff will be holding a public meeting on Thursday, May 30th at 10AM regarding submerged fiber optic cable protection. The meeting is primarily intended for affected regulatory and industry participants, but the public may attend. The meeting will be held at the Commission main office at 380 Fenwick Rd, Ft. Monroe, 23651. [SJR 309 Text]

May 13, 2019:
The Horseshoe Crab Dredge Category Permit commercial fishery will close beginning at sunset, on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019. [Notice]

May 8, 2019: Effective Sunset, Thursday, May 9th, 2019, the Virginia Horseshoe Crab General Category Permit commercial fishery will close. [Notice]

May 6, 2019:  Today, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) released the results from the 2019 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey that show the Chesapeake Bay's blue crab stock remains healthy and able to support quality commercial and recreational harvests. [Press Release]

May 3, 2019:  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will continue the prohibition on issuing the permits required by Section 28.2-546 of the Code of Virginia to carry oysters out of state. [Notice]

April 2019

April 23, 2019:  Virginia takes an important first step to address the striped bass decline and calls on other states to follow suit to protect this crucial species. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted unanimously (7-0) to enact an emergency closure for the spring recreational striped bass trophy season.  [Striped Bass Press ReleaseOther Commission Meeting Actions]

April 22, 2019: 
Tomorrow's Commission meeting will be live streamed. Click the link during the session to view the proceedings. [VMRC meeting live stream].

April 22, 2019:
BLUE CRAB RESOURCE INFORMATION: Recent preliminary results from the Bay-wide blue crab winter dredge survey indicate a better blue crab stock condition in 2019, as compared to 2018. Preliminary abundance estimates of adult female and male blue crabs as well as juvenile crabs are substantially higher than in 2018. These preliminary data are currently under review, and a press release will be published once final 2019 estimates of abundance and the 2018 exploitation rate are available.

April 19, 2019:
Commission offices will be closed after 1PM today due to inclement weather.


April 18, 2019:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission staff will hold a public information hearing to share recent ASMFC and MAFMC management activities related to possible reallocation of the current state-specific shares of the commercial black sea bass coast-wide quota. The meeting will be held at our offices at 380 Fenwick Road, Bldg. 96, Fort Monroe at 6 pm on April 18. Should you be unable to attend in person, the meeting will be live streamed at VMRC meeting live stream. Should you wish to participate in the discussion, you may call 1-866-842-5779 and enter conference code 8018959747.

April 17, 2018: 
Today Virginia joins Connecticut and Massachusetts in calling on the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission to take swift action this year to slow the decline of striped bass and return the population to sustainable levels.  The letter from the three states can be found here: Joint Letter to ASMFC.

April 8, 2019: The newly created Aquaculture Management Advisory Committee (AMAC) will hold its first meeting on Monday, April 8, 2019. The meeting will be from 3:30 until 5:30 PM in the Commission Meeting Room at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission Office located at 380 Fenwick Road, Building 96, Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia. AMAC is charged with providing management advisory assistance to VMRC staff concerning several items identified by the Clam and Oyster Aquaculture Work Group in final their report dated December 2018, to provide advisory assistance related to recent General Assembly changes to the Code of Virginia concerning shellfish leasing and associated potential regulatory actions, and also to provide a forum for discussion and advice concerning ongoing and future issues related to shellfish management by VMRC.

April
2, 2019:
  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has reduced the retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark and hammerhead shark management groups (Appendix 1) for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 25 to 3 sharks (other than sandbar sharks) per vessel per trip effective 11:30 p.m. April 1, 2019. The revised retention limit will remain in effect for the rest of the 2019 fishing season or until NMFS announces another adjustment to the retention limit, which is expected around July 15th. Per Regulation 4 VAC 20-490-10 ET SEQ. "Pertaining to Sharks" state possession limits mirror these new federal possession limits.  [ASMFC Notice | VA Commercial Shark Possession Limits]

April 1, 2019:
On April 23, 2019, the Marine Resources Commission will consider an emergency staff proposal to eliminate the Bay, Coastal and Potomac River Tributaries Spring Trophy-size Striped Bass Recreational Fisheries described in Chapter 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq. [ Notice ]

March 2019

March 26, 2019:  the Commission approved one habitat project, addressed four offenders, and approved two fishery regulations. Also of note, the Commission passed a regulation to prohibit the towing of cobia and striped bass.   [Meeting Summary]

March 25, 2019: Tomorrow's Commission meeting will be live streamed. Click the link during the session to view the proceedings. [ VMRC meeting live stream ]

March 13, 2019:  BLUE CRAB SEASON OPENING INFORMATION:  Although blue crab season starts on March 17th, we are reminding people that per regulation, you cannot set pots on Sunday. The earliest pots can be set this season is 6:00 am, March 18th.

February 2019

February 27, 2019:  Pursuant to action by the General Assembly during the 2019 session Senate Bill # 1413 was approved by the Assembly and signed by the Governor on February 27, 2019. The bill contained an emergency clause making it effective upon signature of the Governor. The new law changes application fees for both new oyster planting ground applications and for the transfer of existing oyster planting ground leases. The new fees are now in effect. To obtain a list of the new fee structure click the following link.  [New Lease Application Fees]

Virginia Marine Resources Commission Staff will host an open meeting to accept comments regarding the development of a regulation to establish and implement a fast-track permitting program, and permit application requirements, in order to authorize the selection and use of appropriate sites for disposal of dredge material on State-owned submerged lands for projects in Tidewater Virginia. The regulation is being developed pursuant to Acts of Assembly 2018 Chapter 449. The meeting will be held on March 12, 2019, at 2:00 pm in the Commission Meeting Room at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission Office located at 380 Fenwick Road, Building 96, Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. For comments or inquires contact Tony Watkinson, Chief, Habitat Management Division at 757-247-2250 or Tony.Watkinson@mrc.virginia.gov.

February 26, 2019:  The Commission met today and approved a wetlands project for Virginia Electric and Power Company, denied two oyster ground leases, and approved public hearings for several fishery items. Also of note, the Commission approved the Oyster Replenishment and Restoration Plan for 2019. MRC will disperse 587,000 bushels of shell over 587 acres and will supplement shell planting with 18,000 tons of alternative substrate over 72 acres. Click on the following link to see the results of today's Commission Meeting.  [Meeting Summary]

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission also voted to approve the 2019 period one opening for the Virginia offshore summer flounder fishery. The landing limit for the offshore (EEZ) fishery from March 1 through April 19, 2019 is 10,000 pounds. [Notice]

February 26, 2019: Virginia Department of Health has issued an emergency closure of James River shellfishing, effective February 26th through March 7th, 2019. [Notice]

January 2019

January 31, 2019:  Attention Virginia Black Sea Bass Anglers, the 2019 February recreational black sea bass fishing season will start February 1st and end on February 28th 2019. 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 black sea bass caught or released during the 2019 February recreational black sea bass season. Click on the notice link for more details on the 2019 black sea bass season. [Notice]

January 29, 2019:   the Commission's new main office at 380 Fenwick Road, Bldg. 96, Fort Monroe, VA 23651 is officially open as of Tuesday, 1/29/19.  [Map to New Office]

January 24, 2019:   Due to an unexpected delay, the Commission's new offices at Ft. Monroe will not open until Tuesday, 1/29/19 at 8AM.  Check our web site next week before traveling to our new office in case there is any additional delay in our re-opening.  [Map to New Office]

January 23, 2019: 
VMRC is moving! The VMRC main office at 2600 Washington Avenue will close today at 3PM, remain closed the rest of the week, and reopen January 28th, 2019 at our new location at 380 Fenwick Road, Bldg. 96, Fort Monroe, VA.   Check our web site next week before traveling to our new office in case there is any unexpected delay in our re-opening.  [Map to New Office]

January 23, 2019: The Commission met yesterday and unanimously voted to uphold the decision of the Northumberland County Wetlands Board to approve the installation of a 125 linear foot riprap revetment on a jurisdictional beach adjacent to the Potomac River. Also of note, the Commission approved NASA's request to construct offshore breakwaters and place approximately 1.3 million cubic yards of sandy beach nourishment material along approximately 19,850 feet of shoreline adjacent to Wallops Island. The Commission also unanimously voted to establish a February 2019 black sea bass fishery with modifications to the recreational black sea bass reporting requirements. [Meeting Summary]

January 20, 2019:  The MAFMC will hold a scoping hearing/internet webinar Thursday, February 7, 2019, 6:00 pm at the Commission's new office at Ft. Monroe (380 Fenwick Road, Ft. Monroe, VA 23651) to solicit public input on an amendment to review and consider modifications to both the permitting system for Illex squid and the goals and objectives of the entire Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). [Notice | Webinar Link]

January 9, 2019: 
VMRC is moving! On January 28th, 2019 we will open our doors at our new location at 380 Fenwick Road, Bldg. 96, Fort Monroe, VA. To prepare for the move, our current main office will be closed January 24-25, 2019. Should you have any communications, permits, reports, etc. that need to be attended to the week of January 21 to 25, we ask that you try and have them delivered no later than January 17, 2019. We will make every effort to avoid any interruptions in service and should you have any questions or concerns please call 757-247-2200. [Map]

Back to top

Important Links

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