Vol. 38 Iss. 13 - February 14, 2022

Chapter 950

REGISTRAR'S NOTICE: The Marine Resources Commission is claiming an exemption from the Administrative Process Act in accordance with § 2.2-4006 A 11 of the Code of Virginia; however, the commission is required to publish the full text of final regulations.

Title of Regulation: 4VAC20-950. Pertaining to Black Sea Bass (amending 4VAC20-950-20, 4VAC20-950-45).

Statutory Authority: § 28.2-201of the Code of Virginia.

Effective Date: January 27, 2022.

Agency Contact: Jennifer Farmer, Regulatory Coordinator, Marine Resources Commission, 380 Fenwick Road, Fort Monroe, VA 23551, telephone (757) 247-2248, or email


The amendments remove the February recreational black sea bass season.

4VAC20-950-20. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

"Annual quota" means Virginia's 15.88% share of the annual coastwide commercial black sea bass quota managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

"Black sea bass" means any fish of the species Centropristis striata.

"Land" or "landing" means to (i) enter port with finfish, shellfish, crustaceans, or other marine seafood on board any boat or vessel; (ii) begin offloading finfish, shellfish, crustaceans, or other marine seafood; or (iii) offload finfish, shellfish, crustaceans, or other marine seafood.

"Recreational vessel" means any vessel, kayak, charter vessel, or headboat fishing recreationally.

"Snout" means the most forward projection from a fish's head that includes the upper and lower jaw.

"Total length" means the length of a fish measured from the most forward projection of the snout, with the mouth closed, to the tip of the longer lobe of the tail (caudal) fin, excluding the caudal fin filament, measured with the tail compressed along the midline, using a straight-line measure, not measured over the curve of the body.

"Virginia Saltwater Fisherman's Journal" means the online web-based resource provided by the Marine Resources Commission to report recreational harvest of seafood at

4VAC20-950-45. Recreational possession limits and seasons.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing with hook-and-line, rod and reel, spear, gig, or other recreational gear to possess more than 15 black sea bass. When fishing from a recreational vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit shall be for that vessel and shall be equal to the number of persons on board legally licensed to fish, multiplied by 15. The captain or operator of the vessel shall be responsible for that vessel possession limit. Any black sea bass taken after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.

B. Possession of any quantity of black sea bass that exceeds the possession limit described in subsection A of this section shall be presumed to be for commercial purposes.

C. The open recreational fishing season shall be from February 1 through the last day of February, May 15 through May 31, and June 16 through December 31.

D. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to take, catch, or possess any black sea bass, except during an open recreational season.

E. From February 1 through the last day of February, it shall be unlawful for any person to possess or land any black sea bass harvested from a recreational vessel, unless the captain or operator of that recreational vessel has obtained a Recreational Black Sea Bass Permit from the Marine Resources Commission.

1. The captain or operator shall be responsible for reporting for all anglers on the recreational vessel and shall provide that captain's or that operator's Marine Resources Commission identification (MRC ID) number, the date of fishing, the number of persons on board, the mode of fishing, and the number of black sea bass kept or released. That report shall be submitted to the Marine Resources Commission (commission) on forms provided by the commission or through the Virginia Saltwater Fisherman's Journal.

a. It shall be unlawful for any permittee to fail to report each trip where black sea bass were targeted, whether black sea bass were harvested, released, or not caught, by March 15 of the current calendar year.

b. It shall be unlawful for any permittee who did not take any fishing trips to target black sea bass in the February recreational black sea bass season to fail to report lack of participation by March 15 of the current calendar year.

2. It shall be unlawful for any permittee to fail to contact the Law Enforcement Operations at 1-800-541-4646 before or immediately after the start of each fishing trip. The permittee shall provide the Law Enforcement Operations with the permittee's name, MRC ID number, the point of landing, a description of the vessel, estimated return to shore time, and a contact phone number.

3. Any permittee shall allow the commission to sample the vessel's catch to obtain biological information for scientific and management purposes.

VA.R. Doc. No. R22-7063; Filed January 25, 2022