Vol. 30 Iss. 10 - January 13, 2014

Chapter 490
Final Regulation

REGISTRAR'S NOTICE: The Marine Resources Commission is claiming an exemption from Article 2 of 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: 4VAC20-490. Pertaining to Sharks (amending 4VAC20-490-41).

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

Effective Date: January 1, 2014.

Agency Contact: Jane Warren, Agency Regulatory Coordinator, Marine Resources Commission, 2600 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Newport News, VA 23607, telephone (757) 247-2248, FAX (757) 247-2002, or email


The amendments establish a maximum smooth dogfish fin-to-carcass weight ratio of 12% and extend the time period commercial fishermen may process smooth dogfish at sea to year round.

4VAC20-490-41. Commercial catch limitations.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess on board a vessel or to land in Virginia more than 33 commercially permitted nonsandbar large coastal sharks in one 24-hour period. The person who owns or operates the vessel is responsible for compliance with the provisions of this subsection.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to fillet a shark until that shark is offloaded at the dock or on shore, except smooth dogfish as provided in subsection C of this section. A licensed commercial fisherman may eviscerate and remove the head of any shark, but the tail and all fins of any shark, except smooth dogfish as provided in subsection C of this section, shall remain naturally attached to the carcass through landing. The fins of any shark, except smooth dogfish, may be partially cut but some portion of the fin shall remain attached, until the shark is landed.

C. From July 1 through the end of February, commercial fishermen may process smooth dogfish at sea, except the first dorsal fin shall remain attached naturally to the carcass until landed. From March 1 through June 30, commercial Virginia licensed commercial fishermen may completely process smooth dogfish at sea prior to landing., except that it shall be unlawful for anyone to land or possess on board any vessel any amount of processed smooth dogfish whereby the total weight of fins exceeds 12% of the total dressed weight of any smooth dogfish.

D. It shall be unlawful to possess, on board a vessel, or to land in Virginia any species of shark, after NOAA Fisheries has closed the fishery for that species in federal waters.

E. There are no commercial trip limits or possession limits for smooth dogfish or sharks on the lists of commercially permitted pelagic species or commercially permitted small coastal species.

F. Except as described in this section, it shall be unlawful for any person to take, harvest, land, or possess in Virginia any blacktip, bull, great hammerhead, lemon, nurse, scalloped hammerhead, silky, smooth hammerhead, spinner, or tiger shark from May 15 through July 15. These sharks may be transported by vessel, in Virginia waters, during the closed season provided the sharks were caught in a legal manner consistent with federal regulations outside Virginia waters and:

1. The vessel does not engage in fishing, in Virginia waters, while possessing the above species; and

2. All fishing gear aboard the vessel is stowed and not available for immediate use.

G. It shall be unlawful for any person to retain, possess, or purchase any commercially prohibited shark or any research only shark, except as provided in subsection I of this section.

H. All sharks harvested from state waters or federal waters, for commercial purposes, shall only be sold to a federally permitted shark dealer.

I. The commissioner may grant exemptions from the seasonal closure, quota, possession limit, size limit, gear restrictions, and prohibited species restrictions. Exemptions shall be granted only for display or research purposes. Any person granted an exemption for the harvest of any shark for research or display shall report the species, weight, location caught, and gear used for each shark collected within 30 days. Any person granted a permit to possess any shark for research or display shall provide the commissioner, on an annual basis, information on the location and status of the shark throughout the life of the shark.

VA.R. Doc. No. R14-3939; Filed December 18, 2013, 3:34 p.m.