Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 29.1. Game, Inland Fisheries and Boating
6/19/2019

Article 3. Fishing Laws.

§ 29.1-531. Unlawful to take or attempt to take, possess, sell or transport fish except as permitted.

A. Unless otherwise provided by a regulation of the Board, it shall be unlawful for any person to take or attempt to take any fish in inland waters other than shad, herring or mullet, except by fishing with a hook and line or rod and reel, held in the hand.

B. It shall be unlawful to catch, trap, take, capture, kill, or attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, receive for transport, export, or import at any time or in any manner any species of game fish, or the carcass or any part thereof, except as specifically permitted by law and only by the means and within the numbers stated.

C. In Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, Charlotte, Campbell, Halifax, Amelia (except between Vaughn's Pond and Meadsville Dam), Caroline and King George Counties, in the City of Danville, and in the Meherrin River in Lunenburg County, it shall be lawful to fish with fish traps, fish pots or haul seines in any streams and waters, provided that no person shall catch fish with fish traps or fish pots or haul seines for commercial purposes. However, it shall be unlawful in such localities to remove from the waters thereof any game fish caught with fish pots, fish traps or haul seines, and any person doing so shall immediately return them to the waters. The Board shall have the authority to close any streams or rivers or parts of streams or rivers in such localities when the waters are stocked with fish by the Department.

D. It shall be lawful to sell or offer to sell trout which have been lawfully acquired, provided such trout have been propagated and raised in a hatchery or by other artificial means. The Board shall by appropriate regulation establish a practical system of identification of trout so offered for sale for table or other uses as directed by the Board.

E. It shall be unlawful to offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, or purchase at any time or in any manner any species of game fish, or the carcass or any part thereof, except as specifically permitted by law and only by the means and within the numbers stated. A violation of the provisions of this subsection shall be punishable as provided in § 29.1-553.

F. A violation of the provisions of subsections A through D shall constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 29-148; 1956, c. 490; 1958, c. 514; 1960, c. 126; 1962, c. 469; 1966, c. 413; 1987, c. 488; 1994, cc. 413, 848; 2000, cc. 403, 447.

§ 29.1-532. Dams and fishways.

Any dam or other object in a watercourse, which obstructs navigation or the passage of fish, shall be deemed a nuisance, unless it is used to work a mill, factory or other machine or engine useful to the public, and is allowed by law or order of court. Any person owning or having control of any dam or other obstruction in the streams of the Commonwealth which may interfere with the free passage of anadromous and other migratory fish, shall provide every such dam or other obstruction with a suitable fishway unless the Board considers it unnecessary. The purpose of such a fishway is for anadromous and other migratory fish to have free passage up and down the streams during March, April, May and June, and down the streams throughout the remaining months. "Suitable fishway" means a fishway which passes significant numbers of the target fishes, as determined by the Board.

Owners of such dams or other authorized obstructions shall maintain and keep fishways operational, in good repair, and restore them in case of destruction.

Owners of dams or other obstructions which are not authorized by law must have the obstacles removed at their expense when the Board determines that the obstacles interfere with the free passage of anadromous and other migratory fish within the streams of the Commonwealth.

The circuit court of the county or city in which the dam is situated, after reasonable notice to the parties or party interested and upon satisfactory proof of the failure to comply, may order any necessary construction or destruction to be initiated or put in good repair at the expense of the owner of the dam or other obstruction. All such construction or destruction must be initiated within one year of the court order and completed within three years of the court order.

Any person failing to comply with this section shall pay as a penalty a percentage of the estimated cost of construction or destruction equal to the percentage specified on the judgment rate of interest pursuant to § 6.2-302, and the Board shall provide construction or destruction cost estimates.

Penalties collected pursuant to this section shall be directed to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

This section shall not apply to the Meherrin River within the Counties of Brunswick and Greensville, nor to the Meherrin River within or between the Counties of Lunenburg and Mecklenburg, nor to the Nottoway River between the Counties of Lunenburg and Nottoway, nor to Abram's Creek in Shawnee district, Frederick County, nor to the James River between the City of Lynchburg and the County of Amherst, nor to the James River within the City of Richmond and between the City of Richmond and Henrico County, except that the exemption for those dams west of Virginia Route 161 which are located on the James River within the City of Richmond and between the City of Richmond and Henrico County shall expire on January 1, 1990, nor any streams within the Counties of Augusta, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Louisa, Buckingham, Halifax, Montgomery, Pulaski, Franklin, Russell, Tazewell, Giles, Bland, Craig, Wythe, Carroll and Grayson, nor to that part of any stream that forms a part of the boundary of Halifax and Franklin Counties. Furthermore, no fish ladders shall be required on dams twenty feet or more in height. The City of Richmond shall continue to work with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries toward implementing and funding a plan for breaching dams to provide fishways for the passage of anadromous and other migratory fish.

Code 1950, § 29-151; 1950, p. 891; 1958, c. 607; 1987, c. 488; 1988, c. 487.

§ 29.1-533. Prohibition against use of substances injurious to fish.

It shall be unlawful to use any explosive for the destruction of fish, or knowingly cast any noxious substance or matter into any watercourse of the Commonwealth where fish or fish spawn may be destroyed, or to place or to allow to pass into the watercourses of the Commonwealth any sawdust, ashes, lime, gas, tar, or refuse of gas works, injurious to fish. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor, except that any person convicted of destroying fish by means of explosives shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The owner or lessee of any property on which fish are destroyed by means of explosives shall be entitled to recover liquidated damages in an amount deemed appropriate by the court from any person convicted of destroying fish by such means.

Code 1950, § 29-153; 1956, c. 709; 1962, c. 469; 1987, c. 488; 1988, c. 158.

§ 29.1-534. Right to fish in interjurisdictional inland waters.

A Virginia resident or a resident of an adjoining jurisdiction which has inland water lying adjacent to Virginia land or water may take fish with hook and line after complying with the requirements of the laws of the jurisdiction where the fishing occurs. For purposes of this section and § 29.1-535, the term "jurisdiction" shall include the District of Columbia.

1952, c. 484, § 29-153.1; 1964, c. 74; 1970, c. 194; 1987, c. 488; 1991, c. 200; 2011, cc. 93, 179.

§ 29.1-535. Reciprocal agreement as to fishing in such waters.

The Board shall have the necessary authority to enter into a reciprocal agreement with an adjoining jurisdiction having inland waters lying adjacent to Virginia land or water relating to the following:

1. A sport fishing license acquired in an adjoining jurisdiction shall be recognized when it is used by the person whose name appears on the face of such license, when such licensee is fishing in that portion of inland waters lying in either Virginia or the other jurisdiction or partly in each of the jurisdictions. Such recognition shall be contingent upon a reciprocal recognition by the adjoining jurisdiction to a licensee of Virginia who is fishing in the same waters.

2. Creel limits, open seasons for fishing and all other laws and regulations of the jurisdiction entering into the agreement shall be strictly observed, and any person failing to comply with the regulations set up under the agreement shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and punished accordingly.

1952, c. 484, § 29-153.2; 1964, c. 74; 1970, c. 194; 1980, c. 28; 1987, c. 488; 1991, c. 200.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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