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Bring Back the Gaff for Cobia in Virginia

This petition had 570 supporters

The Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association (VSSA), will be requesting the Virginia Marine Resource Commission (VMRC) make a motion at the June 27 VMRC Commission meeting to remove the rule prohibiting gaffing of cobia in Virginia.  We want as many anglers to sign this online petition as possible to demonstrate to VMRC this action needs to happen at the June 27 meeting.  We intend to make this recommendation during item 10 at the public hearing session.


1.  VMRC is putting anglers at risk with safety concerns.  Netting a large cobia can become a safety issue when trying to boat a large, green cobia that goes wild while inside the net.  Trying to get the cobia out of the net while a hook is still in the mouth often creates a chaotic scene on the boat that can lead to damage or injury.  The hook often gets tangled inside the net and trying to untangle the hook from the net while the cobia is thrashing creates the possible safety issue.  Of particular concern is charter boats where many of the customers are inexperienced.  Children in particular want to be close to the action and the risk is injury is a concern. 

2.  Virginia is the only state that prohibits the gaffing of cobia.  At the March 28, 2017 VMRC meeting during the cobia public comment session, the vast majority of anglers publically stated (both in writing and in person) that gaffing cobia should be allowed.  Anglers stated that gaffing a cobia only happens on cobia of clear legal size they intend on killing.  A dead cobia is a dead cobia whether gaffed or netted.  When a cobia sees a large net beside the boat they often make several additional strong runs many times resulting in lost fish for the angler. 

If VMRC tries to say this issue must have a public comment period before a motion can be made, our response is there has already been a recent public comment (March 28, 2017) on this very issue.  VMRC Associate Commissioners chose to ignore the vast majority of anglers siding with a very slight minority.  VMRC should now correct that injustice by making a motion and voting to remove the rule prohibiting gaffing at the June 27, 2017 meeting. 

Please share with all anglers prior to June 27.   We need as many signatures as possible between now and June 27 where we will present this petition and request a motion be made on this issue. 

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