February Black Sea Bass Fishery

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission held a public hearing on December 12, 2017 to implement new management measures to comply with the ASMFC requirements to participate in the February 2018 recreational black sea bass fishery. The applicable section of Virginia Chapter 4 VAC 20-950-10 et seq. is included with this memorandum. In order for an individual to participate in the February 2018 season, Virginia has implemented requirements to: 1) obtain a free permit; 2) hail-in prior to a return to shore when a black sea bass trip is taken; and, 3) report all catch to VMRC or use federal vessel trip reporting. The VMRC will also collect biological samples from head boats using APAIS staff, and collect private angler donations from freezer locations. This regulatory changes state that any participant in the February fishery shall allow VMRC to sample recreational catch. However, staff intends most sampling to be voluntary. Using the 5,496 pounds of recreational harvest in February 2018 projected by MAFMC staff, VMRC will adjust the remainder of the 2018 to lower harvest to account for this projection. VMRC will hold a public hearing to amend the season using options approved by the ASMFC technical committee. Preliminary work suggests Virginia can account for this harvest by closing an additional two weeks during the July-August timeframe.

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