According to the latest numbers from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, Virginia saltwater recreational fishermen appear to be lagging behind their peers in other states when it comes to complying with a new federal law to help conserve oceans and maintain vibrant, sustainable fisheries.
According to Virginia Marine Resources Commission spokesperson John Bull, under the law, most Virginia saltwater anglers are required to register with the new National Saltwater Angler Registry.
He said that Virginia anglers were required, as of Jan. 1, to register if they fish for or catch anadromous species in tidal waters (including striped bass, shad or river herring that live in the oceans but spawn in fresh water); fish in the federal waters more than three miles from the ocean shore or from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay or don’t meet any of the exceptions in the law.
Bull said the exceptions include anglers who are under the age of 16; only fish on licensed charter, party or guide boats; hold a Highly Migratory Species Angling permit or hold and are fishing under a valid commercial license. In addition, he said out-of-state saltwater anglers who are already registered with NOAA do not need to re-register to fish in Virginia.
Bull said anglers are reminded that regardless of their registration status, it is important to learn and follow the rules where they are fishing. The registration requirement is in addition to, and has no bearing on, existing or future fishery management regulations such as size and bag limits, closed seasons and areas or saltwater fishing license purchase requirements.
Registration is simple, Bull said, and will be free in 2010. Anglers need to log on to www.countmyfish.noaa.gov and click on the Angler Registry link or call the toll-free registration line at 1-888-674-7411. They will need to provide their name, date of birth, address and phone number and will receive a registration number that will allow them to begin fishing immediately. After approximately 30 days, they will receive a registration card in the mail.
For more information, visit www.countmyfish.noaa.gov.