Virginia’s spring recreational rock fish trophy season has been canceled following an unanimous vote by the state’s Marine Resources Commission.

According to the commission, a recent scientific assessment shows the rock fish population has been below the sustainable threshold for the past six years, and overfishing has been occurring since 2010.

“Virginia has always been a conservation leader, and this is a time to step up,” Commissioner Steven G. Bowman said in a statement. “The recent stock assessment shows that early action is needed to slow the decline and restore this fishery to sustainable levels.”

Eliminating the spring season was the first step in conservation efforts, and commissioners are now hoping the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission encourages other states to follow Virginia’s lead, according to Bowman.

Alexa WESR

The emergency measure will eliminate the spring rock fish trophy season in the Bay from May 1-June 15, the Coast from May 1-May 15 and the Virginia tributaries to the Potomac River from April 29-May 15, the commission said.

However, starting May 16-June 15, fishermen will be able to catch and keep two rock fish ranging in size from 20 to 28 inches, the commission said.