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VMRC Regulations

Recreational Fishing Rules

Anglers Guide

2017 Recreational Reporting Fact Sheet
**SUBJECT TO CHANGE, please call (757) 247-2200 with any questions**

What is up with this mandatory reporting for recreational fishing?

All recreational anglers (private and for-hire) targeting or catching cobia, spring trophy striped bass, or tilefish/groupers must be covered under corresponding species permits. Note: for-hire captains are responsible for being permitted for all types of striped bass fishing.

Who would need to physically have the permit?

The captain or operator of the vessel (whether private or for-hire) and every individual in the case of shore, pier, or kayak fishing. Guests on private boats and for-hire boats do not need a permit, and the captain will also report for their activity.

Can I get one permit for multiple species?

No, the permits are specific to a species. However, if you sign up for multiple permits at the same time (for example, trophy striped bass and cobia), the “permits” will be printed on the same physical card/paper.

I am a charter captain and private angler. Do I need two permits for one species?

For cobia and the tilefish-grouper complex, the permits work for all modes of fishing. So a cobia captain who also takes private trips would only need one cobia permit. HOWEVER, separate private trophy and charter permits would be required for striped bass. This is because striped bass charter captains have different reporting requirements than private recreational striped bass anglers. Captains must report all fishing activity, all year, while private anglers only have to report trophy-sized striped bass during the spring trophy season.

What happens if I fish for one of these species without a permit?

If you are stopped by a law enforcement and this is the case, an officer can write you a ticket.

What happens if I go fishing on my friend’s boat, and he doesn’t have a permit?

It is the obligation of the captain or operator of the boat to be permitted. Allowing passengers on the vessel to obtain permits could create confusion over reporting if those anglers also fish on boats whose captains are permitted.

Do I have to report every trip, even if I don’t catch anything?

Yes, trips where you don’t catch your target species are important for management, as the number of such “unsuccessful” trips can hint at the health of the population.

Do I have to report if I was not targeting one of these species, but caught one?

Yes, these trips are also relevant for estimating recreational landings.

Do I have to file reports every week?

No, the “7-day” requirement means that, if you do have a trip resulting in catch, it must be reported within 7 days. All of your zero-catch trips, or reports of no activity, must be in by 15 days after the end of the season. However, timely reports of zero-catch trips are of course welcome as well.

Can I report by calling into the VMRC?

No, there is no dedicated call-in system to report for any of these fisheries, nor does staff take specific trip reports. HOWEVER, reports of no activity at the end of the season may be submitted over the phone by calling the VMRC.

How do I report?

You may meet your reporting requirements by utilizing the VA Saltwater Journal found at The VA Saltwater Journal has a dedicated section for reporting both retained and released cobia (the same page as reporting for the striped bass trophy season). You must also report your non-participation if you did not fish during the cobia season. Alternatively, paper forms may be found on our website at this link which will allow you to mail in your reports. We cannot accept any reports sent by email.

What if I can’t log in to the VA Saltwater Journal to report?

If you have never used the VA Saltwater Journal before, you will need to register by clicking the “Register Here” button. If you have previously registered but cannot remember your password, please click the “Forgot Password” button. The VA Saltwater Journal only allows one user per email address. However, a registered VA Saltwater Journal user can report for another permit holder in the Journal by entering their VMRC ID. If you continue to have trouble, you may use the paper form to mail in the report.

Why am I reporting this information for cobia?

There are not a lot of cobia data being collected annually. All commercial landings are being reported while recreational landings are estimated by NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). MRIP is a survey that does not have a very robust sampling design to accurately estimate how many cobia are harvested. Providing your catch reports will be a very valuable supplement to the limited cobia data that are currently available. Virginia will attempt to incorporate this dataset into cobia stock assessments and management. Similar types of reporting by South Carolina charter boat captains were a very important data component to the last cobia stock assessment. The data you report have the potential to be used in stock assessments and the setting of regulations, but this can only be achieved with widespread participation from anglers and captains.

**SUBJECT TO CHANGE, please call (757) 247-2200 with any questions**


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