Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
2/4/2023

Chapter 510. Pertaining to Amberjack and Cobia

4VAC20-510-10. Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to control the harvest, protect the spawning stocks, minimize the possibility of recruitment failure and increase yield in the amberjack and cobia fisheries. The provisions pertaining to aquaculture serve to prevent cobia raised in an aquaculture facility from being placed into Virginia waters and to minimize the impact of cultured fish in the market place on the enforcement of other provisions of this chapter.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR450-01-0065 § 1, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 1995; amended, Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 12, eff. February 1, 2007; Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2016.

4VAC20-510-12. Definitions.

The following terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Amberjack" means any fish of the species Seriola dumerili.

"Cobia" means any fish of the species Rachycentron canadum.

"Mandatory Harvest Reporting Program Web Application" means the online web-based resource provided by the commission to report commercial harvest of seafood at https://webapps.mrc.virginia.gov/harvest/.

"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, 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 commission to report recreational harvest of seafood at https://www.vasaltwaterjournal.com.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2017; amended, Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2017; Volume 35, Issue 2, eff. September 1, 2018; Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2021.

4VAC20-510-15. Recreational cobia permit and mandatory reporting.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or land any cobia harvested from a recreational vessel unless the captain or operator of that recreational vessel has obtained a Recreational Cobia Permit from the Marine Resources Commission (commission). The captain or operator shall be responsible for reporting for all anglers on the recreational vessel. Any captain or operator who did not take fishing trips to target cobia during the current recreational cobia season is still required to report lack of participation.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or land any cobia harvested recreationally from shore, a pier, or any other man-made structure without first having obtained a Recreational Cobia Permit from the Marine Resources Commission. Permittees shall be responsible for reporting all trips. Any permittee who did not take fishing trips to target cobia during the current recreational cobia season is still required to report lack of participation.

C. It shall be unlawful for any recreational cobia permittee to fail to report on forms provided by the commission or through the Virginia Saltwater Fisherman's Journal. Reports shall include MRC ID number, the date of harvest, the mode of fishing, the number of cobia kept or released, and, if fishing from a vessel, the number of persons on board.

1. Any permittee who did not take any fishing trips to target cobia during the recreational cobia season shall report the permittee's lack of participation by midnight on October 6 of that calendar year.

2. Any permittee shall report trips where cobia were targeted but not successfully caught by midnight on October 6 of that calendar year.

3. Any permittee shall report trips where cobia were caught, whether harvested, released, or possessed by midnight on October 6 of that calendar year.

D. Following October 6 of the current calendar year, any permittee who failed to report for any season shall be ineligible to receive a recreational cobia permit for the following calendar year but shall be eligible to reapply for that permit in subsequent years.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2017; amended, Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2017; Volume 35, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2019; Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2021.

4VAC20-510-20. Recreational fishery possession limits, season, and vessel allowance.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to possess more than one cobia at any time. When fishing from any recreational vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit for the recreational vessel shall be equal to the number of persons on board legally eligible to fish multiplied by one, except there is a maximum recreational vessel limit of two cobia per recreational vessel per day. The captain or operator of the recreational vessel shall be responsible for any recreational vessel possession limit. Any cobia caught after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to harvest or possess any cobia before June 15 or after September 15 of the current calendar year.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to possess more than two amberjack at any time. When fishing from any recreational vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit for the recreational vessel shall be equal to the number of persons on board legally eligible to fish multiplied by two. The captain or operator of the recreational vessel shall be responsible for any recreational vessel possession limit. Any amberjack caught after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.

D. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing recreationally to gaff or attempt to gaff any cobia.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR450-01-0065 § 2, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 1995; amended, Virginia Register Volume 18, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2002; Volume 23, Issue 12, eff. February 1, 2007; Volume 30, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2014; Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2016; Volume 33, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2017; Volume 34, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2018; Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2021.

4VAC20-510-25. Commercial fishery possession limits, season, and reporting requirements.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing commercially to possess more than two cobia at any time. When fishing from any vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit for the vessel shall be equal to the number of valid commercial fisherman registration licensees on board multiplied by two, except there is a maximum vessel limit of six cobia per vessel per day. The captain or operator of the vessel shall be responsible for any vessel possession limit. Any cobia caught after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.

B. Any commercial harvest of cobia shall only be reported through the Mandatory Harvest Reporting Program Web Application. Such reports shall record daily harvests from Sunday through Saturday and be submitted on a weekly basis no later than Wednesday of the following week in accordance with 4VAC20-610.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person to take, harvest, land, or possess any cobia for commercial purposes once it has been announced by the commission that the commercial quota has been landed for the current calendar year.

D. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing commercially to possess more than two amberjack at any time. When fishing from any vessel where the entire catch is held in a common hold or container, the possession limit for the vessel shall be equal to the number of valid commercial fisherman registration licensees on board multiplied by two. The captain or operator of the vessel shall be responsible for any vessel possession limit. Any amberjack caught after the possession limit has been reached shall be returned to the water immediately.

E. The possession of amberjack or cobia by licensed seafood buyers or wholesale and retail seafood establishments when operating in their capacity as buyer, wholesaler, or retailer shall not be limited by the possession limits described in this section.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 and of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2016; amended, Virginia Register Volume 34, Issue 6, eff. October 25, 2017; Volume 34, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2018; Volume 35, Issue 2, eff. September 1, 2018; Volume 35, Issue 4, eff. September 30, 2018; Errata, 35:4 VA.R. 601 October 15, 2018; amended, Virginia Register Volume 36, Issue 6, eff. October 23, 2019; Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2021.

4VAC20-510-30. Size limits.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to take, catch, or have in possession any amberjack less than 32 inches in total length.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person fishing commercially to take, harvest, or possess any cobia less than 37 inches in total length.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person to take, catch, or have in possession any recreationally harvested cobia less than 40 inches in total length.

D. When fishing from any recreational vessel, it shall be unlawful to take, catch, or have in possession more than one recreationally harvested cobia greater than 50 inches in total length per vessel.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR450-01-0065 § 3, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 1995; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2016; Volume 35, Issue 2, eff. September 1, 2018; Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020; Volume 37, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2021.

4VAC20-510-33. (Repealed.)

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 12, eff. February 1, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2014; Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2016; Volume 34, Issue 17, eff. April 1, 2018; repealed, Virginia Register Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020.

4VAC20-510-35. Aquaculture of cobia; permit required.

A. Any person operating an aquaculture facility in which cobia that exceed the possession limit or are of sublegal size will be cultured, possessed, offered for sale, or sold shall first obtain a permit from the commissioner for the facility. That permit shall exempt the facility from the possession requirements described in 4VAC20-510-20, 4VAC20-510-25, and 4VAC20-510-30, and authorize the possession, culturing, and sale of sublegal size cobia.

B. The application for a cobia aquaculture permit shall list the name and address of the applicant, the type and location of the facility, and an estimate of production capacity. An aquaculture permit shall be valid for 10 years from the date of issue and may be renewed by the commissioner provided the permittee has complied with all of the provisions of this chapter. The issuance and continuation of any person's cobia aquaculture permit are contingent on that designated facility being open for inspection by the Marine Resources Commission for the purposes of determining compliance with this regulation. An aquaculture permit is not transferable.

C. Any person employed by a permitted cobia aquaculture facility for the purpose of harvesting cobia as broodstock for the aquaculture facility shall be exempt from the provisions of 4VAC20-510-20, 4VAC20-510-25, and 4VAC20-510-30 provided that person possesses a scientific collection permit issued by the commissioner.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 12, eff. February 1, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 36, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2020.

4VAC20-510-37. Aquaculture of cobia; sale, records, importation, and release.

A. All cobia produced by an aquaculture facility permitted under this section shall be packaged prior to sale with a printed label indicating the product is of aquaculture origin. When packaged and labeled according to these requirements, such fish may be transported and sold at retail or wholesale or for commercial distribution through normal channels of trade until reaching the consumer.

B. Cobia that measure less than the lawful minimum size described in 4VAC20-510-30 B but are the product of a permitted aquaculture facility in another state may be imported into Virginia for the consumer market. Such fish shall be packaged and labeled in accordance with the provisions contained in subsection A of this section.

C. It shall be unlawful for any cobia produced by an aquaculture facility located within or outside the Commonwealth of Virginia to be placed into the waters of the Commonwealth without first having notified the commissioner and having received written permission from the commissioner.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 23, Issue 12, eff. February 1, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 21, eff. June 1, 2016; Volume 36, Issue 21 eff. June 1, 2020.

4VAC20-510-40. Penalty.

As set forth in § 28.2-903 of the Code of Virginia, any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and a second or subsequent violation of any provision of this chapter committed by the same person within 12 months of a prior violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR450-01-0065 § 4, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 22, eff. July 1, 1995.

FORMS (4VAC20-510).

2021 Recreational/Charter Reporting Form (rev. 1/2021)

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