November 22, 2019. VMRC Commissioners will vote on commercial cuts to Rockfish on Tuesday, November 26. We have been told that staff is recommending a conservation equivalent which will allow the commercial cuts to be much lighter that 18% since the recreational cut is larger to 24% with the emergency rule in place. We have objected to this (see letter below) as ASMFC voted to implement option 2 which called for even cuts of 18% for both recreational anglers and commercial watermen. We need anglers to sound off by sending an email to VMRC not later than Monday (Nov 25) Noon. Use this form to send a quick email. Let’s flood VMRC with the message we must all (recs and comms) take cuts to bring back to the stocks. The recreational angler can’t do it alone.
September 24, 2019. The Commission approved today the emergency amendments described in sections of Chapter 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq. “Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass,” to lower the recreational possession limit for the fall season Oct 4 Dec 31 in the Chesapeake Bay area to allow one fish per angler from 20 inches to a maximum size of 36 inches and establish commercial maximum mesh size requirements in the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal areas.
September 22, 2019. VMRC public hearing for the Emergency Amendment will be heard on Tuesday, September 24 at the monthly commission meeting. If you want to be heard and make comments, please show up around 1230 pm and take a turn at the microphone. In accordance with Section 28.2-209 of the Code of Virginia, a public hearing on the proposed amendments to these regulations will be held on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, at the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 380 Fenwick Road, Bldg. 96, Fort Monroe, Virginia. Public comments on the proposals should be provided to Patrick Geer firstname.lastname@example.org, VMRC Fisheries Management Division, 380 Fenwick Road, Bldg. 96, Fort Monroe, Virginia 23651, by 12:00 p.m., Monday, September 23, 2019.
Here is the VSSA response. VSSA Rockfish VMRC Letter 9-22-2019
September 3, 2019. We apologize we don’t like running two polls at the same time for the same fish but VMRC threw us for a loop with an Emergency Amendment at the same time ASMFC were planning options for cuts. Since there is a public hearing on September 24, 2019, we need input from anglers to represent your positions. Please select your option below. This is only for the VMRC Emergency Amendment. Here is the wording from the August 27, 2019 VMRC meeting.
6. REQUEST FOR AN EMERGENCY AMENDMENT Proposal to amend Chapter 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass,” to lower the recreational possession limit in the Chesapeake Bay area and establish commercial maximum mesh size requirements in the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal areas. THE COMMISSION UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THE STAFF RECOMMENDATION TO ADOPT THE EMERGENCY AMENDMENTS DESCRIBED IN SECTIONS OF CHAPTER 4 VAC 20-252-10 ET SEQ. “PERTAINING TO THE TAKING OF STRIPED BASS,” TO LOWER THE RECREATIONAL POSSESSION LIMIT IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AREA AND ESTABLISH COMMERCIAL MAXIMUM MESH SIZE REQUIREMENTS IN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY AND COASTAL AREAS. STAFF ALSO RECOMMENDS THIS EMERGENCY AMENDMENT BE PART OF A SEPTEMBER PUBLIC HEARING TO INCORPORATE THE AMENDMENTS AS PART OF THE PERMANENT REGULATION. [audio]
Do you support the VMRC Emergency Amendment to lower the Chesapeake Bay Fall season to lower the limit to 1 fish per person with a maximum size of 36 inches?
- Option 1. Yes I support the Emergency Amendment as written. (46%, 115 Votes)
- Option 3. No, I do not support the Emergency Amendment. (31%, 77 Votes)
- Option 2. Yes I support the Emergency Amendment but would have preferred using one of the pending ASMFC Addendum options early for the fall season. (24%, 59 Votes)
Total Voters: 251
August 26, 2019.
ASMFC has determined Striped Bass are currently overfished and cuts are coming. We all have a say in how these cuts will be implemented. VSSA needs your responses to the poll below to effectively represent Virginia’s angling community. A brief summary of the situation and a brief poll of the potential regulatory options is below. This poll closes on September 18, 2019. The ASMFC public comment period for Striped Bass is currently open. We encourage you to express your views of the potential options by taking the poll, attending the public meetings, writing letters directly to ASMFC, and reaching out to VSSA for other opportunities for involvement.
The full Public Information Document (PID) on the proposed addendum VI to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan can be found here:
ASMFC is hosting a series of public comment sessions. The full listing is provided here. The closest for us in Virginia are:
Virginia Marine Resources Commission September 9, 2019 at 6:30 PM Virginia Marine Resources Commission 380 Fenwick Road, Fort Monroe Hampton, Virginia Contact: Alex Aspinwall or Pat Geer at 757.247.2200
Potomac River Fisheries Commission September 10, 2019, at 6 PM 222 Taylor Street Colonial Beach, Virginia Contact: Martin Gary at 804.224.7148
VSSA will formally respond to ASMFC and wants to represent your views. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has a number of proposed management scenarios under consideration to reduce the overfishing of Striped Bass. Please take a moment to respond to these survey questions. There are essentially 4 questions with Sub Options to be answered. Questions 2 and 3 have multiple sub options. Questions 2 and 3 appear to be similar, but they are different to allow a different set of options to be considered for both the recreational and commercial sectors. Both questions should be answered. The questions are as follows. Please fill in the blank with your choice.
Correction change 18% to 20% for Option 3
4. Circle Hook Provision. This section proposes options regarding the use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce striped bass discard mortality in recreational fisheries. Total Voters: 500
4. Circle Hook Provision. This section proposes options regarding the use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce striped bass discard mortality in recreational fisheries.
Total Voters: 500
VSSA has been informed that VMRC will propose an emergency rule at the VMRC meeting on Tuesday, Aug 27, 2019 to eliminate the take of large rockfish effective for the fall season starting October 4, 2019. This will be discussed at the FMAC meeting Monday, Aug 26 at 6 pm. Unfortunately the FMAC conflicts with the menhaden town forum same date/time. If you have comments you can show up at the VMRC meeting (and/or FMAC) to express your concern. This is a big impact for fishing for trophy rockfish, for charters, and for tournaments but on the other hand our fish are in trouble and action sooner rather than later may be needed. VSSA does not have a position on this subject as we were just informed today. There is a poll running on our Facebook page so please go there to voice your input. https://www.facebook.com/groups/IfishVA/
April 3, 2019. We are asking all anglers to respond to this poll not later than April 15, 2019.
On April 23, 2019, the Marine Resources Commission will consider an emergency staff proposal to eliminate the Bay, Coastal and Potomac River Tributaries Spring Trophy-size Striped Bass Recreational Fisheries described in Chapter 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq.
The justifications for this proposal include the status of the coastal striped bass stock that is overfished. This means the spawning stock is low and not biologically stable. Overfishing has been occurring for several years meaning the rate of striped bass removals from the stock has caused an overfished condition. The number of striped bass harvested recreationally by Virginia fisheries has declined markedly since 2010 when 368 thousand striped bass were harvested from all tidal Virginia waters. In 2018, preliminary recreational striped bass harvest is less than 52 thousand fish. The reporting rate for the trophy-size recreational striped bass fisheries has been low and ranged from 37 percent to 50 percent, from 2015 through 2018. All these factors have contributed to the staff proposal for these emergency actions, and section § 28.2-210 of the Code of Virginia authorizes these amendments for the protection of the striped bass resource.
The emergency amendments proposed by staff include: 1) elimination of the open season for the Bay spring trophy-size striped bass recreational fishery of May 1 through June 15, inclusive, whereby a 36-inch minimum size limit has been in effect; 2) elimination of the open season for the Coastal spring trophy-size striped bass recreational fishery of May 1 through May 15, inclusive, whereby a 36-inch minimum size limit has been in effect; and, 3) elimination of the open season for the Potomac River tributaries spring striped bass recreational fishery of April 20 through May 15, inclusive, whereby a 35 inch minimum size limit is in effect.
Staff proposes an effective date of April 29, 2019 for the emergency regulation. If the Commission adopts the emergency regulation, a public hearing on this issue would be requested for May 28, 2019.
Do you support the draft VMRC emergency rule to close down the Spring trophy striped season?
- Yes - I support the emergency rule - Virginia should lead the way for conservation. (70%, 229 Votes)
- No - I do not support this emergency rule - Virginia should wait on a coastwide plan. (30%, 97 Votes)
Total Voters: 326
Argument for Emergency Rule. The latest stock assessment is not good news and shows that overfishing is occurring. Virginia recreational anglers need to do our part to protect and rebuild these larger fish which are mostly females to protect the breeding stocks. Not many anglers participate in the spring season anyways so taking this conservation measure now will demonstrate to other states that Virginia is leading the way to protect and rebuild the stocks.
Argument against the Emergency Rule. Virginia is only responsible for 3.36% of the overall harvest of rockfish and is but one state along the eastern shore that harvest rockfish. Virginia acting alone is statistically insignificant for conservation. Virginia should wait for ASFMC to develop a coastwide plan that all states can participate that will show real savings of the stocks. Additionally, Virginia recreational anglers should not take cuts unless the commercial fishery also takes cuts.
January 31, 2019. There is a VMRC public hearing on March 26, 2019 at 380 Fenwick Road, Ft. Monroe, VA 23651 on the issue of towing striped bass and cobia. Please take a few minutes to respond this poll question to see where anglers stand on the issue. Share this poll with as many anglers as possible to get the word out. The more anglers responding the better.
Note: We are running 2 poll questions. Please consider both poll questions before responding. Responses are limited to IP addresses so one voter cannot vote multiple times.
Argument For: The practice of towing striped bass and cobia behind a boat that is in gear should be banned. With a boat in gear the forward motion of the boat while trolling can be from 2 to 5 knots and the fish attached to the towed line is not likely to survive and can possibly be mutilated. Anglers wanting to tow fish are likely wanting to cull (release) that fish in case a larger fish is caught. In many cases that fish will not survive if released after being towed with the boat in gear at 2-5 knots. Additionally, towing can force water into the stomach adding weight which creates problems at weigh stations for the citation program and tournaments.
Argument Against: It should not be the business of VMRC to regulate towing. If a tournament has an issue, they can write a tournament rule but we don’t need a state regulation rule. Once an angler decides to keep a large fish that fish belongs to the angler and should be never be released later for a larger fish. Now once an angler decides to keep that fish it should become part of the boat limit. The angler can tow it, put a party hat on it, or do whatever. The angler can’t mutilate it or clean it beyond recognition while on the water so a marine police officer can’t ID the species and size. There is already a rule against mutilation and cleaning on the water. Putting a hole in the mouth is not mutilating beyond recognition. Some anglers don’t have large fish boxes and keeping that fish in cold water attached to a line is a method of keeping that fish fresh longer to enjoy the meat later. In gear, out of gear does not matter. Towing should be legal as long as the angler does not try to release it later just because a bigger one was caught. Fishing is already over regulated with too many rules in place, let’s not create new unnecessary rules. There are unethical anglers out there that will not follow the rules creating. Creating new rules will not change the behaviors of bad anglers.
Second Poll Question:
Question 1. Should read (question is too long for poll box): Yes, VMRC should prohibit the culling of large fish. No culling (releasing) of large fish (36 inches or bigger) from the fish box, live well, cooler, towed line, deck, or anywhere within or connected to the boat . If the fish is out of the water for more than 2 minutes it will be considered caught.
Some unethical anglers will catch a large fish and try to keep it alive in case a bigger fish is caught. Some will even toss a fish back that has been in the fish box on ice. The smaller fish is released (culled) so the larger fish can be kept. The survival rate of the culled (released) fish is questionable. There are many ways to cull a fish (not just towing). Perhaps the issue that needs to be addressed is the culling of large fish. We can argue over what large is but a schoolie can be kept alive in a live well for a long time and survive if released. The issue should be focused on culling because many are against the releasing of larger fish (36 or higher my opinion) that could die just because a bigger one was caught. Should the practice of culling large should be illegal….or the towing part.
July 11, 2018. VSSA has requested that VMRC measure fish in a consistent manner with other states. Presently the way Virginia measures fish is confusing and results in unpleasant encounters with marine police officers. VMRC is addressing this issue with a new regulation. This is not just a rockfish measurement issue. This issue applies to the way Virginia measures all fish, it just became a highlighted issue when measuring striped bass. A public hearing is being requested on July 24, 2018 for an August 28, 2018 public hearing. Stay tuned for the specific language VMRC is putting together.
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING Proposal to amend Chapters 4 VAC 20-252-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Striped Bass;” 4 VAC 20-280-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Speckled Trout and Red Drum;” 4 VAC 20-320-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Taking of Black Drum;” Chapter 4 VAC 20-380-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Grey Trout (Weakfish);” 4 VAC 20-500-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Eels,” 4 VAC 20-510-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Amberjack and Cobia;” 4 VAC 20-540-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Spanish and King Mackerel;” 4 VAC 20-620-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Summer Flounder;” 4 VAC 20-910-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Scup (Porgy);” 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Black Sea Bass;” and, 4 VAC 20-960-10 et seq., “Pertaining to Tautog,” and to establish Chapter 4 VAC 20-1340-10 et seq., “Pertaining to the Measuring of Finfish,” to establish a uniform definition and process for determining the total length of fish species.
Striped bass measurement is confusing in Virginia. Here is what the guidance from VMRC states which does not allow pinching:
VA Measurements…………………..Size limits are total length measurements; fish must be measured tip of nose to tip of tail, except black sea bass, which are measured from tip of nose along the centerline of the body, to the center of the tail.
Maryland: Size limits are generally based on the total length of a fish. The total length of a fish is the maximum length with the mouth closed and the tail pinched together measured from the snout to the tip of the tail. The best way to obtain this straight line measurement is to push the fish’s snout against a vertical surface with the mouth closed and with the fish lying along a tape measure and then pinch the tail fin closed to determine the total length.
Florida: Total Length is measured from the most forward point of the head, with the mouth closed, to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed, while the fish is lying on its side.
Even Virginia’s fresh water fish program measures fish differently than Virginia’s saltwater fish. https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/trophy-fish/how-to-certify/
How to Certify a Trophy-Size Freshwater Fish
Certifying Your Fish By Length and Photo:
- Lay the fish on top of or beside a flat measuring rule. Do not lay the rule over the curvature of the fish’s body.
- Close the fish’s mouth and squeeze the tail lobes together.
- Measure from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail to the nearest ¼ inch. See diagram.
- Have an observer verify the length and complete the witness information on the application. Or, take a picture of the fish and complete the length witness information yourself.
- Fish certified by length only (no certified weight), do not qualify for “Angler of the Month & Year Awards”.
Certifying Your Fish By Weight:
- Take your fish to a store with certified scales.
- Have a clerk weigh the fish and complete the weight witness information on the application.
VSSA is working with VMRC to possibly adjust our seasons for striped bass. Our fall season does not even get going until after Thanksgiving and sometimes even later leaving us with just 2 or 3 weeks of fishing in December. Please provide your input to this poll we are running on the topic.
VSSA letters relating to rockfish: