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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

August 20, 2014:  The success of the VMRC oyster restoration efforts along with our public and private sector partners, is taking on new dimensions and visibility. Governor McAuliffe announced yesterday the creation of the Virginia Oyster Trail. “Virginia is for Oyster Lovers”. The trail offers visitors a way to enjoy Virginia’s seven different oyster regions, as well as experience the unique culture of watermen in the Chesapeake Bay. Read more here [Virginia Oyster Trail | Press Release]

August 7, 2014:  National Shark Week, August 10-17, 2014.  The Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s Web site provides a wealth of information on identification of different shark species, including photos and field keys (unique data sets). [Shark Identification Links] [VMRC Shark Regulation] - Virginia regulations pertaining to sharks can be found here, including recreational and commercial fishing limits.  [VIMS Shark Information] - the Virginia Institute Of Marine Science provides material on the three predominant shark species found in Virginia, why sharks are important ecologically, shark research and other topics.  [U.S. National Aquarium Shark Information] - more features and articles on sharks.

July 29, 2014:
The Virginia recreational and commercial hook-and-line speckled trout fisheries reopen on August 1, 2014. Beginning August 1, it will be legal for any person fishing commercially, with commercial hook and line gear, or recreationally, with any gear type, to possess up to 5 speckled trout, in any one day. These seasons have been closed from March 1 through July 31, 2014, as a response to conserve the stock that suffered large mortality rates this past winter from cold stun events.  In addition to the 5-fish possession limit, there is a 14 inch minimum size limit. Of the 5-fish possession limit, only one speckled trout, 24 inches or greater, can be possessed, in any one day, for persons fishing with commercial hook and line gear, or fishing recreationally with any gear type.

July 22, 2014: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission today unanimously revoked the commercial fishing licenses of four watermen who were convicted in court of egregious or repeated violations of the fishing laws. The license revocations were for two years, the most allowed under the Code of Virginia. In doing so, the Commission signaled it has no tolerance for watermen who flaunt the fishing laws. One of the violations that resulted in a license revocation was especially offensive: running an illegal, un-inspected oyster shucking operation and harvesting oysters despite having a license that was revoked last year by the Commission. [Meeting Summary] [Press Release]

July 21, 2014: 
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia’s oyster harvest jumped another 25 percent last year, surging past 500,000 bushels, the most in nearly a generation. [Press Release]

July 16, 2014: 
Shellfish training dates announced; the National Shellfish Sanitation Program guidelines now require training and education programs for all shellfish harvesters and certified dealers. This training program is currently being implemented in Virginia and is now required for all 2015 shellfish permits and licenses with Virginia Marine Resource Commission (VMRC) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Division of Shellfish Sanitation (DSS). The training is free and will be required every two years in Virginia. Completion of the training is a pre-requisite for licensing. The intent is to increase the awareness of temperature control and food handling practices for shellfish to minimize growth of Vibrio bacteria. [Notice]

June 27, 2014:
The National Marine Fisheries Service published a Final, Federal Rule amending the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP). The plan is intending reduce the risk of serious injury, entanglement, and deaths of large whales (North Atlantic right, humpback, and fin) caused by accidental entanglement in U.S. commercial trap (pot) and gillnet fishing gear. In the Mid-Atlantic, the plan increases the size and frequency of the current gear marking scheme for both trap (pot) and gillnet fisheries. The ALWTRP impacts all gillnet and all trap (pot) fisheries in Virginia, east of the COLREGS line. The gear marking and gear modification requirements in the Mid-Atlantic are effective August 26, 2014. The current and new gear marking scheme requires fishermen to mark their trap (pot) and gillnet buoy lines with three 12 inch (30.48cm), colored marks: one at the top of the buoy; one midway along the buoy line; and, one at the bottom of the buoy line. <Fisheries Bulletin> <Press Release>

June 27, 2014:
  Governor McAuliffe today appointed Chad Ballard III of Norfolk and John E. Zydron of Chesapeake to four-year terms on the board of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.  Mr. Ballard is the President of Ballard Fish & Oyster Company in Cheriton, located on the Eastern Shore.  It is one of the most successful shellfish aquaculture operations in Virginia.  He also sits on the boards of the Virginia Aquaculture Advisory Board, the Shellfish Growers of Virginia, and the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.  He is a former investment banker.  Mr. Zydron is the managing general partner of the law firm of Bennett and Zydron in Virginia Beach.  He also is a recreational charterboat captain, and a U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officer.  He served with the Virginia National Guard after 32.5 years of service, retiring from the position of the Virginia State Judge Advocate General.  He also served as a JAG officer, a military judge, an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Norfolk, and was a long-time substitute judge for the Virginia General District Courts.  He retired with the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army and with the rank of Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia-Unorganized.  He received numerous awards, honors and decorations for his service.  Mr. Ballard replaces Eastern Shore resident Ed Tankard on the nine-member Commission, and Mr. Zydron replaces attorney Bryan Plumlee of Virginia Beach.

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