Note: to see public notices for proposed regulatory actions, upcoming
meeting dates and past meeting minutes use the Agency Meeting
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 27, 2015:
Due to low blue crab abundance levels, the
Virginia Marine Resources Commission has decided to keep the winter crab dredge
fishery closed this year, for the eighth consecutive year. Also, the Commission
approved new shellfish lease marking requirements to improve boating safety and
opened an additional area for oyster harvests next month near Saxis, on the
Eastern Shore. [Commission Meeting Summary
October 21, 2015:
Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Friday, October 23, 2015, the commercial menhaden pound net fishery will close. Based on landing reports from mandatory harvest reporting and Virginia seafood buyers, it is projected that Virginia will have caught 100% of the 3,753,222 pounds of the menhaden pound net quota, by the above date and time.[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
October 8, 2015:
The Division of Shellfish Sanitation has revised Emergency Closure # 69N for the James River effective Thursday October 8, 2015. The Division will continue to monitor water quality in the remaining areas still shown as condemned per emergency action and respond accordingly as is warranted. All other shellfish harvesting waters are currently classified according to routine criteria.
October 5, 2015:
The Division of Shellfish Sanitation will be closing the James River
effective 12:01am Monday morning October 5, 2015. This closure is being issued
primarily due to inland heavy rains upstream in the James River watershed. [Closure
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 31, 2015:
Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Friday, July 31, 2015, the commercial directed menhaden Haul Seine fishery will close. Based on landing reports from mandatory harvest reporting and Virginia seafood buyers, it is projected that Virginia will have harvested 100% of the 22,113 pounds of the directed menhaden haul seine quota, by the above date and time. [Closure Notice
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
June 23, 2015:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted unanimously today to revoke the fishing licenses and tidal fishing privileges of five commercial waterman for the maximum allowed by current law, two years, for egregious or repeated violations of oyster-catch restrictions, and revoked a sixth waterman’s licenses and fishing privileges for one year. The violations ranged from keeping undersized oysters, harvesting illegally and repeatedly in a closed area or taking them from polluted waterways. In other action, the Commission approved the use of water rakes for the harvest of cultured clams on leased grounds. [Press Release
| Commission Meeting Summary
June 12, 2015:
It is projected that 80% of the horseshoe crab commercial hand harvest quota has been taken. For that reason, it shall be unlawful for any valid horseshoe crab commercial hand harvest permittee to possess aboard any vessel or to land more than 250 horseshoe crabs per day, effective 12:00 P.M. (Noon) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), Friday, June 12, 2014.
June 10, 2015:
Accurate accounting of Trophy Striped Bass caught during the spring season is essential to maintaining this fishery.
All trophy permittees are urged to report their trophy striper activity,
including a report of no fishing if the permittee was unable to fish this
year. Please review the following trophy striped bass FAQ to see your
reporting options. [Trophy
Striped Bass FAQ
Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Wednesday, June 10, 2015, the commercial directed menhaden fyke 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 1,950 pounds of the directed menhaden fyke net quota, by Wednesday, June 10, 2015. Therefore, after 6:00 P.M., EDST, Wednesday, June 10, 2015 it shall be unlawful to harvest or land more than 6,000 pounds of menhaden per day, for commercial purposes, by use of fyke net in Virginia, for the remainder of 2015. [Menhaden closure
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
]. 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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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
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.
] [March Commission
to Commercial Industry on Striped Bass Size Limits
March 24, 2015:
Striped Bass rules adopted in December 2014 require Virginia saltwater fishermen participating in the Spring Trophy Season (May 1 — May 15 coastal and May 1- June 15 Bay and tribs) to obtain a no-cost permit. The permit is only required for trophy striped bass fishermen 16 or older and
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:
Online No-Cost Permit Process
License Agent Locations
March 19, 2015:
Notices regarding striped bass recreational fishing management options to be considered at the public hearing to be held at the Commission meeting on March 24th.
] [Public Notice
March 17, 2015:
Reminder for 2015 Blue Crab Bushel & Barrel Limits for the Commercial Crab Fishery
From March 17, 2015 through March 31, 2015, any harvester legally licensed for a crab pot license is limited to the following harvest and possession limits shown below:
1) 8 bushels, or 2 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 85 crab pots.
2) 10 bushels, or 3 barrels and 1 bushel, of crabs, if licensed for up to 127 crab pots.
3) 13 bushels, or 4 barrels and 1 bushel, of crabs, if licensed for up to 170 crab pots.
4) 21 bushels, or 7 barrels of crabs, if licensed for up to 255 crab pots.
5) 27 bushels, or 9 barrels of crabs, if licensed for up to 425 crab pots.
From April 1, 2015 through July 4, 2015, any harvester legally licensed for a crab pot license is limited to the following harvest and possession limits shown below:
1) 10 bushels, or 3 barrels and 1 bushel, of crabs, if licensed for up to 85 crab pots.
2) 14 bushels, or 4 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 127 crab pots.
3) 18 bushels, or 6 barrels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 170 crab pots.
4) 29 bushels, or 9 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 255 crab pots.
5) 47 bushels, or 15 barrels and 2 bushels, of crabs, if licensed for up to 425 crab pots.
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]
[2014 Leading Entries]
March 6, 2015:
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of amendments to regulations, as proposed [Notice
February 25, 2015:
Opening of Virginia Offshore Summer Flounder Fishery announced effective 12:01 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, Wednesday, March 11, 2015.
February 24, 2015:
The Commission agreed to extend the winter oyster season by almost two weeks because of snow and ice that have kept harvesters off the water for most of February. In other action the Commission suspended the sale of oyster hand scrape and dredge licenses until further notice in order to keep harvest levels from expanding from increased fishing effort.
February 12, 2015:
The Commission would like to remind commercial harvesters and buyers that 80 percent of the 51,104 pound
commercial landings quota for speckled trout
has been taken for the season that began on September 1, 2014 and will extend through August 31, 2015. It is unlawful, for any commercial fisherman registration licensee, to take, harvest, land or possess a daily bycatch limit of more than 100 pounds of speckled trout. That daily bycatch landing limit of speckled trout shall consist of at least an equal amount of other fish species.
January 27, 2015:
The Commission revoked ten commercial watermen’s licenses for their court convictions of harvesting oysters from polluted waters. However, the Commission suspended the revocations of nine of those watermen and put them on probation for a year. Any natural resources violations during that probation period will result in the automatic loss of their licenses for up to two years. In other action the Commission approved $120,000 to build a public fishing pier on the York River in King and Queen County.
January 21, 2015:
In collaboration with VA Department of Environmental Quality and the Elizabeth River Project, researchers at Duke University are conducting a study to test red drum and speckled trout from the Elizabeth River for PCBs, a cancer-causing chemical found in soil and sediment in the James River Basin. To find out how you can donate red drum to the project and win a Yeti cooler, check out the
! (Finding PCBs in fish tissue will NOT cause closures of any fisheries, but may cause consumption advisories to be issued.) They are also interested in finding out more about fishing behavior and knowledge of fish consumption advisories for the Elizabeth River watershed. Completing this survey takes about 15 minutes and may help influence how future health advisories are communicated.
link to the survey
. For more information on this study, please contact the researchers at
January 9. 2015:
Recreational Summer Flounder fishing management alternatives for 2015 will be discussed at a public hearing on January 14, 2015 at 6:00 PM at the VMRC Headquarters, 2600 Washington
Avenue, Newport News, Va. 23607, 4th Floor Commission Hearing Room. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries is leading this hearing to discuss regional management options for 2015 and a coast-wide or conservation equivalency option (FMP status quo). Coast-wide means uniform management across all 9 participating states, whereas conservation equivalency means that states could have the option to form voluntary regions or states could set state-specific regulations to constrain the state’s harvest to the state’s share of the Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL), which is based on the 1998 allocation. This procedure was in place from 1999 through 2013. In 2014 the ASMFC mandated regional management. Information for where to send written comments is included in the attached document.
for additional information.
Summer Flounder Recreational Fishing Options
January 7, 2015:
The VIMS Virginia Marine Advisory Services is accepting proposals for the 2015 Fisheries
Resource Research Grant program from January 5 through January 31, 2015. Grants are used to help those directly involved with fishing and aquaculture to undertake experiments and studies of innovative methods for enhancing or
protecting fisheries in Virginia. For more information, see http://www.vims.edu/research/units/centerspartners/map/frg/
contact Tom Murray at 804-684-7190 or
. [ 2015 Fisheries Research Grant
January 5, 2015:
The Commission has added a web site feature that displays information regarding pending and complete permit applications submitted to our Habitat Management Division. For more recent projects you can view permit applications, the project status, a project description including dimensions, site photos and see an aerial photograph. This web feature will provide the public with easy way to access habitat permit application information and locations.
[Habitat Management Permits and Applications
] [Mobile Device