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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

July 21, 2016:  Dr. Robert J. Orth of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science produced a video about Seagrass. Dr. Orth's research focuses on the biology and ecology of seagrasses, principally in the Chesapeake Bay. [View it here]

July 19, 2016:  Governor McAuliffe Celebrates Improving Water Quality and Land Conservation [Notice]

July 19, 2016:  The Lynnhaven River Oyster Work Group is scheduled to meet on July 15 at the Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia beginning at 9:30 AM and ending at 12:00 noon. The Brock Environmental Center is located at 3663 Marlin Bay Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455. The meeting is open to the public.

The Group will meet again on July 29, 2016 at the Virginia Beach Tidewater Community College campus in the Student Center, Room K-304, from 9 AM until approximately 2:00 PM. The Student Center is located at the campus at 1700 College Crescent, Virginia Beach, VA 23453. Parking for this meeting will be available behind the Virginia Beach Building (G). The meeting is open to the public.

July 11, 2016:  The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will hold a public hearing/scoping meeting related to cobia on August 9, 2016 at 6:00 PM at the Hilton Virginia Beach, 3001 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451. The SAFMC will also be sponsoring additional meetings and webinars between August 1 and August 17 to collect public input on proposed management measures for several species managed by the Council. For details on meeting locations, webinar registration, amendment documents/presentations, and instructions on how to submit written comments, visit the Council's website. [SAFMC Meeting Notice]

July 8, 2016: 
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is increasing the retention limit for the commercial aggregated large coastal shark (LCS) and hammerhead shark management groups for directed shark limited access permit holders in the Atlantic region from 3 to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip as of July 15, 2016. This adjustment is intended to promote equitable fishing opportunities in the Atlantic region, while allowing majority of quota to be harvested later in the year. All other retention limits and shark fisheries remain unchanged in the Atlantic region. [NMFS Notice]

July 1, 2016: 
Effective 7/1/16, the Commission's recreational 5 crab pot license, has been replaced by two new licenses, a $36 recreational 5 crab pot license that requires use of a terrapin excluder device, and a $46 recreational 5 crab pot license that does not require an excluder. Recreational crab potters should visit the following link to learn more about the new licenses and the efforts to conserve terrapins by installing excluder devices. [New 5 Crab Pot Licenses Effective 7/1/16]

June 28, 2016:  
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted unanimously to extend the fall commercial crab season by three weeks to December 20, 2016 and to open the spring season two weeks earlier next year on March 1, 2017. The Commission also agreed to extend the season for peeler potters and to allow crab pounds to be set up two weeks before the season starts, but not fished until the season starts. The winter dredge fishery will remain closed this year.   [Meeting Summary]

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]

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