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General Assembly passes bill to protect commercial fishermen

House Bill 928 to protect commercial fishermen from harassment awaits the governor’s signature. Photo by Larry Chowning

RICHMOND—The Virginia General Assembly recently passed House Bill 928 designed to protect commercial fishermen and their boats from harassment at sea.

The bill passed the Senate, 38-1, and the House, 99-0. It was signed by the Speaker of the House on March 5 and President of the Senate on March 7. Gov. Glenn Youngkin is expected to sign it into law by April 8.

The bill, sponsored by District 67 Del. Hillary Pugh Kent, makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly and intentionally interfere with or impede the operation of commercial fishing activity of a commercial fishing vessel within the territorial waters of the Commonwealth. Penalties would include confinement in jail up to 12 months and a fine up to $2,500, either or both.

The bill also deems a person to be ineligible for any hunting or fishing license for one year upon a first conviction and for three years upon a second or subsequent conviction. The bill also requires any person convicted of a violation of this offense to complete a boating safety education class.

House Bill 928 was prompted by an engagement between a jet skier and an Ocean Harvesters menhaden fishing crew on September 23, 2023, which was documented in a video by…..

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