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Commissioner, John M.R. Bull

Commissioner’s Message

Welcome to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  We serve as stewards of the Commonwealth’s marine and aquatic resources, and protectors of its tidal waters and homelands, for present and future generations.

We manage saltwater fishing, both recreational and commercial.  We work to create and maintain sustainable fisheries for the benefit of all anglers and the ecosystem.

We also manage water bottoms in public trust for the citizens of the Commonwealth.  Our Habitat Management Division works with those who wish to use them for piers or water-dependent projects.

Our Law Enforcement Division, the Virginia Marine Police, patrols the waterways to enforce the regulations and to assist citizens in need.

We take our duties seriously, striving always to serve the public in a professional, responsive and responsible way.

Please join us as protectors of our critical natural resources so that they remain for our children and grandchildren to enjoy them as we do.

Important Links

VMRC Regulations

Recreational Fishing Rules

Anglers Guide

What We Do

Agency News

June 24, 2016: Governor McAuliffe today announced the reappointments of Lynn Haynie Kellum of Reedville and James E. “JJ” Minor, III of Richmond to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Mrs. Kellum was born and raised in Reedville and is the General Manager at AMPRO Shipyard & Diesel, which services and repairs commercial and recreational vessels. Mr. Minor serves as a Project Analyst for both Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities and the Department of Economic and Community Development.

June 23, 2016: MRIP released a final 2015 harvest recreational landings estimate, 3.96 million pounds, for black sea bass. This estimate is 1.63 million pounds over the coastwide (NH – NC) harvest limit (2.33 million pounds). The preliminary 2015 harvest estimate of 3.52 million pounds would have necessitated a 23.2% reduction for 2016. Based on the final estimate, a larger reduction must be taken in order to remain below the 2016 harvest limit. Now, the necessary coastwide reduction is 28.9%. The ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Technical Committee met via conference call on June 23 to discuss possible management measures to meet the reduction, and to draft recommendations for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board. For a number of years, Delaware through North Carolina have followed federal waters measures, and landings of black sea bass from these states have not contributed to the persistent overages of the coastwide recreational harvest limit. That limit has been exceeded each year since 2010, except for 2011, and reduction measures have been assumed by states north of Delaware. Additional details will be provided as the ASMFC process unfolds.

June 14, 2016: Virginia Marine Resources Commission invites public comment on the establishment of a new regulation pertaining to Establishment of Restricted Area – Maritime Administration James River Reserve Fleet [Notice]

June 10, 2016: Effective Noon, Sunday, June 12, 2016, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial hand harvest fishery will close. [Notice]

June 1, 2016: At its May meeting, the Commission voted to extend the recreational cobia fishing season in Virginia waters to August 30, 2016, with a one fish per person limit and a two fish daily vessel limit only when two fishermen or more are aboard any vessel, for all recreational fishing vessels including for-hire (charter and head boats). The minimum size was increased to 40" total length with only one of the two fish vessel limit allowed to exceed 50" total length. There will also be a prohibition on gaffing. The Commission voted for a mandatory reporting system in 2017 for recreational and charter boat cobia catch (harvested and released fish). The Commission also agreed to a start a pilot, voluntary program for cobia permitting and reporting in 2016 for both recreational and for-hire cobia fishermen, which is now available. Cobia anglers are encouraged to participate, as more specific information about cobia fishing in Virginia has the potential to be used in the regional fishery management processes that are directing cobia management along the East Coast. Visit the following web links to learn more about the new no-cost cobia permits, harvest reporting, and harvest regulations. [New Online No-Cost Cobia Permits | Recreational Cobia Harvest Reporting using the SWJ | SWJ Mobile | For-Hire Cobia Harvest Reporting using CBOR | General Saltwater Fishing Regulations (scroll down for cobia info) | Cobia Regulation 4 VAC 20-510 | Paper Reporting Forms | Cobia Harvest Reporting FAQ]

May 27, 2016: 
The Lynnhaven River Oyster Work Group is scheduled to meet on June 2 and June 16, 2016 at the VMRC main office located at 2600 Washington Ave., Newport News, VA 23607, in the 4th Floor Commission meeting room, with each meeting beginning at 6:00 PM and ending at 9:00 PM. The group is also scheduled to meet on July 1, 2016 at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia beginning at 9:30 AM and ending at 12:00 noon. All meetings are open to the public.

May 24, 2016:
After a 4 ½ hour debate, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted today to not close the recreational cobia season in June, as requested by the National Marine Fisheries Service following unexpectedly high catch rates last year that likely indicates overfishing of the Georgia through New York stock of cobia. The Commission did raise the size limit from 37 to 40 inches, kept a one-fish per person possession limit, instituted a two-fish daily vessel limit, allowing only one of those fish to be more than 50 inches, for all vessels including for-hire (charter and head boats). The Commission also voted prohibited the gaffing of cobia by recreational anglers. In addition, the Commission decided to close the fishery on August 30 and will begin a reporting system for recreational anglers to report their cobia catches to the agency. The Commission had been requested by the National Marine Fisheries Service to close the recreational cobia fishery on June 20 because federal data showed the Georgia-New York allowable recreational catch of cobia was greatly exceeded in 2015 and Virginia alone caught the entire coastal quota.   [Meeting Summary License Revocations]

May 20, 2016:
Lynnhaven River Oyster Work Group will meet at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia beginning at 9:30 AM until approximately 12:00 noon. The meeting is open to the public.

May 18, 2016:Effective 6:00 P.M., Eastern Daylight Savings Time, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the commercial directed menhaden gill net fishery will close. [Notice]

May 17, 2016:Effective Sunset, Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the Virginia horseshoe crab commercial dredge gear fishery will close. [Notice]

May 11, 2016:  Landing limit reduction for the 2016 Virginia horseshoe crab dredge fishery effective 12:00 P.M. (noon) Wednesday, May 11, 2016 [Notice] and Closure of Virginia’s 2016 scup summer period [Notice]

May 6, 2016:  The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Coastal Sharks Management Board approved Draft Addendum IV to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Coastal Sharks for public comment. The purpose of the Draft Addendum is to maintain consistency between federal and state FMPs, where possible, and to better incorporate into state regulations the intent of the limited fins-attached exception for smooth dogfish in the Shark Conservation Act of 2010.   VMRC will not hold a public hearing on this addendum, but anyone can make recommendations by contacting Ashton Harp, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at 703.842.0740 or [ASMFC Press Release]

May 3, 2016: 
Effective Sunset, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, the Virginia horseshoe crab general category permit commercial fishery will close. [Closure Notice]

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