Changes to Fishing Regulations

The information provided on this webpage is a summary of regulatory ideas and proposals that are being considered by the department. The purpose of posting this text is to make the public aware of the issues and to elicit public feedback on these ideas. Comments on the ideas presented provide the department with invaluable information and perspectives that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. We appreciate your time and your commitment to Maryland's natural resources. The graphic within each topic will help you follow the change through the regulatory process. Learn our terminology…Scoping, Development, Comment Period, Final Decision, Effective.

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​Click on title below to be taken to a regulation change.

BLACK DRUM
BLUE CRAB — Sponge Crab Import
BLUE CRAB - Trotline Clarification
BLUE CRAB - Recreational and Commercial Clarifications
CLAM — Hard and Soft
CLAM — Harvest in the Chester River
FISH REFUGES - Gumtree Cove
GEAR - Haul Seines
GEAR - Sharing Commercial Gear
GEAR - Stinger Hooks
HOOKS, BAIT, STRIPED BASS — May 16 through December 15
LICENSING - Boat Decals
OYSTERS - Divers and Attendants
OYSTERS - Gardening
OYSTERS - Recreational Harvest
OYSTERS - Shell Recycling Tax Credit
OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - AEZs and PSFAs - OPEN FOR COMMENT
PENALTIES - 2017 Changes
PENALTIES - 2018 Changes
PUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS - #109​ and #110
PUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS - #80​ and #156
REPORTING - Charter Boats
SHARKS - Recreational Fishery
SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - Housekeeping
SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product
SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers
STRIPED BASS - Commercial Declaration of Intent
STRIPED BASS - Commercial Fishery
STRIPED BASS - Recreational Fishery
STRIPED BASS - Housekeeping
STRIPED BASS - Susquehanna River
TROUT
YELLOW PERCH - Commercial
 

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Thermometer Graphic BLACK DRUM

The department would like to reopen its historical commercial black drum fishery within the Chesapeake Bay at levels commensurate with other south Atlantic states.




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Thermometer Graphic BLUE CRAB - Sponge Crab Import
COMAR 08.02.03.08 and .14

The purpose of this action is to make changes to the commercial crab fishery. Specifically, the proposed action modifies the dates for importing sponge crabs and the size of the letters displayed on vessels.


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Thermometer Graphic BLUE CRAB - Trotline Clarification

The department intends to clarify terminology in the trotline regulation.


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Thermometer Graphic BLUE CRAB - Recreational and Commercial Clarifications

The department intends to make several changes to clarify the blue crab regulations. These changes are all housekeeping and not substantive.

1) The department will make it clear that Code of Maryland Regulations 08.02.03.06B(2) applies to recreational crabbing in the coastal bays of the Atlantic Ocean and their tributaries.

2) The department would like to clarify the commercial gear limits.

3) The wording in the Code of Maryland Regulations 08.02.03.11 pertaining to recreational crabbing times can be confusing and the department would like to clarify the language.


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Thermometer Graphic BLUELINE TILEFISH

The department needs to make changes to the blueline tilefish regulations in response to Amendment 6 to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Tilefish Fishery Management Plan.


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Thermometer Graphic CLAM — Hard and Soft

Create regulations for clam harvest in accordance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance.


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Thermometer Graphic CLAM — Harvest in the Chester River
COMAR 08.02.02.12; 08.02.04.15; 08.02.07.03

Current regulations conflict on whether clamming is allowed or prohibited in a certain area of the Chester River. The department would like to clarify that clamming is allowed in Zone A of the Chester River Oyster Recovery Area.


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COBIA

COMAR 08.02.05.17 and COMAR 08.02.12.03

The proposed action adds cobia to the in need of conservation list and creates rules for both the recreational and commercial fisheries. The proposed action establishes rules to allow changes to the regulation by public notice so that Maryland may implement management measures of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for the Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia in a timely manner.


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Thermometer Graphic COMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETS - 2017/2018
COMAR 08.02.01.05

This proposed action adjusts commercial license targets based on unlimited tidal fish licenses (UTFL) that were downgraded during the 2016/2017 license year.


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Thermometer Graphic FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLANS
COMAR 08.02.01.01

The proposed action incorporates the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coast King and Spanish Mackerel Fishery Management Plan (1994) and the Fishery Management Plan for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) in Maryland Tidewater (January 2014) into regulation. The department uses fishery management plans to guide actions taken to conserve and manage the species.


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Thermometer Graphic FISH REFUGES — Gumtree Cove

The department would like to remove the designation of Gumtree Cove, located in Nanjemoy River, as a fish refuge. Removing the designation will increase fishing access and opportunities in Nanjemoy River. This idea is supported by the Black Bass Advisory Subcommittee.


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Thermometer Graphic GEAR — Haul Seines

1) The department intends to establish notification procedures for commercially fishing with haul seines on the weekend.

2) Housekeeping Change — The department needs to remove an antiquated requirement that a haul seine first be sealed by the department prior to its use.


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Thermometer Graphic GEAR — Sharing Commercial Gear
COMAR 08.02.03.07; 08.02.05.01, .02, .07; 08.02.15.04, .07; 08.02.25.04—.07


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Thermometer Graphic GEAR — Stinger Hooks
COMAR 08.02.25.01

The proposed action clarifies the definition of stinger hook.


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Thermometer Graphic GOLDEN TILEFISH

The department needs to update golden tilefish regulations for consistency and compliance with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Golden and Blueline Tilefish Fishery Management Plan. Recreational and commercial changes are being considered.


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Thermometer Graphic HOOKS, BAIT, STRIPED BASS — May 16 through December 15
COMAR 08.02.05.02; COMAR 08.02.15.03, .09 and .10; and COMAR 08.02.25.01 and .03

The purpose of this action is to reduce the minimum size of striped bass for the recreational and charter boat summer and fall fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries from 20 inches to 19 inches. The proposal makes changes in several chapters to accomplish the purpose, including changes to the season, gear and use of bait. All changes apply to recreational anglers and charter boats. Changes for the restrictions that are made for the period May through December for hook requirements and striped bass sizes and seasons are specific to 2018 and 2019 and do not apply to other years.

  • Reason: The intention is to reduce dead discards of striped bass that occur throughout the summer/fall when anglers are using bait​
  • Minimum Size: 19" for the striped bass summer and fall fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries
  • New Rules Apply: May 16 through December 15
  • Hook Requirements:
    • Hook requirements apply to fishing for all species, not just striped bass
    • Circle hooks required when chumming or live-lining. Chumming and live-lining are defined
    • Circle hook is defined in regulation (COMAR 08.02.25.01) as a non-offset hook with the point turned perpendicularly back to the shank.​
    • ​J hooks (no size restriction) or circle hooks are required when using bait
  • View the Emergency Proposal​​ Emergency Action Submitted 4/9/18 to the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee (AELR) — Approved by the Committee​
  • The Procedures for Emergency Regulations may be found on the Joint Committee's Webpage.
  • View the Proposed Action This proposal is identical to the emergency action submitted to AELR, but is following the normal regulatory procedures.
  • Regulatory Hearing — The department held a hearing to discuss the proposal at 6 p.m. May 17, 2018 at the Annapolis Friends Meeting House located at 351 Dubois Road, Annapolis, MD 21401. No one attended the hearing. View the Hearing Presentation​.
  • Adopted as Proposed​ — Effective 7/2/18


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Thermometer Graphic JONAH CRABS
COMAR 08.02.08.06

The purpose of this action is to amend commercial management measures for Jonah Crab (Cancer borealis) in response to Addendum II to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Jonah Crab. Addendum II to the fishery management plan develops a coastwide standard for claw harvest and establishes requirements for the bycatch fishery.


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Thermometer Graphic LICENSING — Boat Decals

The department would like to authorize a boat owner to provide proof of purchase for a certain period of time to allow for a delay in shipping of fishing or crabbing boat decals. This change will be better for customers and help enforcement.


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Thermometer Graphic LICENSE FREE FISHING AREAS
COMAR 08.02.01.07

The purpose of this action is to add three new areas to a geographically diverse network of license free fishing areas throughout the state in order to promote recreational fishing. An individual fishing in a license free fishing area is required to observe all fishing laws and regulations. A free angler registration is required for anglers fishing without a license in designated tidal license free fishing areas. An individual is exempt from all other license fees and requirements.


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Thermometer Graphic OUT OF STATE SUPPLIER REGISTRATION


The purpose of this action is to establish a permit for an out-of-state finfish supplier. Currently, out-of-state suppliers are required to register annually with the Department. Once registered, the supplier is required to follow certain criteria. Establishing a permit in regulation will make expectations clear. The proposed action establishes the permit to ensure the health of Maryland’s wild stocks of fish. There is no cost for the permit and it is valid for the calendar year.


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Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS

The department would like to make it clear that a person may not harvest oysters in a harvest reserve area when it is not open.


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Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Divers and Attendants

​The purpose of this action is to update regulations for commercial oyster divers and required attendants based on legislation. House Bill 1137, which addressed commercial oyster divers, was passed during the 2018 legislative session. The bill modifies Natural Resources Article, 4-1015.1, Annotated Code of Maryland and became effective October 1, 2018. This bill modifies the tidal fish license and oyster authorization requirements for persons aboard a boat who are using diving apparatus to catch oysters for commercial purposes from the waters of the State.


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Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Gardening

The department intends to adopt regulations for an oyster gardening program. Regulations are required by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP).


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Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Recreational Harvest

The department would like to limit the recreational harvest of oysters.


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Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Shell Recycling Tax Credit — Housekeeping

The pupose of this action is to update the regulations for the tax credit a person may receive for recycling oyster shells. The law allows for a person to receive a State income tax credit for recycling oyster shells. Legislative changes require the department to update our regulations. The credit for recycling oyster shells is $5 per bushel up to a maximum of $1500 per year. 


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Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE — AEZs and PSFAs

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries (September 2018). The proposed action: 1) removes aquaculture enterprise zones and references in regulation to the zones; 2) declassifies two public shellfish fishery areas (PSFA) to allow for aquaculture; 3) changes the boundary of one public shellfish fishery area that overlaps with a sanctuary; and 4) updates several public shellfish fishery areas that were inadvertently changed or omitted when the last update was completed in November 2016.



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Thermometer Graphic PENALTIES - 2017 Changes

The department plans to make annual changes to commercial, recreational and dealer penalties based on the penalty workgroup meeting that was held June 15, 2017.


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Thermometer Graphic PENALTIES - 2018 Changes

The department intends to make annual changes to commercial, recreational and dealer penalties based on the recommendations of the joint penalty workgroup of the Sport Fisheries and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions. The annual penalty workgroup meeting was held June 7, 2018.


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Thermometer Graphic PUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS - #109 and #110
COMAR 08.02.04.17

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference "Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries (November 2016)". This document contains coordinates for all Public Shellfish Fishery Areas (PSFA) in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. The November 2016 version of this document contains amended coordinates for PSFA 109 to exclude a 4.9 acre portion of an 11.9 acre submerged land lease and PSFA 110 to exclude a 7.7 acre submerged land lease. The proposed action also corrects a reference to statute.


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Thermometer Graphic PUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS — #80 and #156

The department has been asked to declassify two public shellfish fishery areas.


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Thermometer Graphic REPORTING — Charter Boats

The department plans to clarify who needs to submit the Commercial Charter Boat Captain's Daily Log.


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SEAFOOD MARKETING

The seafood marketing regulations, which includes the True Blue Marketing Program, were transferred to the Department of Agriculture. Legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session that moved the responsibilities of the program from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture so the regulations are not necessary in our subtitle.


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Thermometer Graphic SHARKS

The department is considering two changes for recreational shark regulations.

  • 1) Remove the recreational possession limit for smoothhound sharks (smooth dogfish). The department would like to update the recreational smoothhound rules because both the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) allow recreational anglers an unlimited number of smoothhound sharks.

  • 2) Implement requirements for increasing a shark's chance of survival after release. The measures being considered are complimentary to federal Highly Migratory Species shark rules and would help shark populations, such as the dusky shark, rebuild. Please see the summary for specifics.



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Thermometer Graphic SHEEPSHEAD

Recreational anglers have asked the department to consider changing the creel limit for sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus). The department is considering four options.


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Thermometer Graphic SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE

The department would like to add a penalty to the shellfish aquaculture regulations for violating shellfish import rules.


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Thermometer Graphic SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - Housekeeping

The department would like to make two changes for clarification.

  • 1) Change the definition of SAV Protection Zone in regulation to match the language used in Natural Resources Article, §4-11A-01, Annotated Code of Maryland.

  • 2) The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has changed their name to the Department of Health. We will be updating all references.


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Thermometer Graphic SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product

The department plans to require that shellfish (oysters and clams) be delivered to a buy station on the same day of harvest so that harvesters are in compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP).


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Thermometer Graphic SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers

The department would like to put the seafood dealer requirements for following the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance into regulation.  The model ordinance requires that dealers must only accept product from a licensed harvester on the day of harvest.  It is not legal for seafood dealers to purchase oysters from unlicensed individuals.


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Thermometer Graphic SNAKEHEAD

The department would like to remove the specific methods for killing a snakehead and simply requiring an individual to kill the snakehead upon capture. This would simplify the requirement for both enforcement and anglers.​


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Thermometer Graphic SNAPPER GROUPER COMPLEX

  • 1) Minor spelling errors were recently discovered so the department needs to change the scientific names of two species.
    • Black margate — from Anistotremus surinamensis to Anisotremus surinamensis

    • Smallmouth grunt — from Haemulon chrysargeryum to Haemulon chrysargyreum

  • 2) The department would like to add the ability to adjust size and possession limits by public notice so that Maryland may implement management measures of the National Marine Fisheries Service in a timely manner.



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Thermometer Graphic STRIPED BASS — Commercial Declaration of Intent

The Striped Bass Industry Workgroup and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission would like the department to remove the appeal process for licensees who miss the striped bass permit registration deadline.


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Thermometer Graphic STRIPED BASS - Commercial Fishery
COMAR 08.02.15.04 and .07

The purpose of this action is to extend the pound net season, change the declaration procedures for the Chesapeake Bay common pool fishery, and allow for partial in-season transfers of both allocation (temporary) and shares (permanent) in both the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean commercial striped bass fisheries. These actions were recommended by the Commercial Striped Bass Industry Advisory Work Group and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission.


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Thermometer Graphic STRIPED BASS - Recreational Fishery
COMAR 08.02.15.08 and .11

The purpose of this action is to update size limits for striped bass during the Chesapeake Bay recreational and charter boat spring season and the Atlantic Ocean recreational and charter boat striped bass fishery. The changes have been implemented with public notices for several seasons and we would like to put them into regulation. Making the changes in regulation allows the public to be better informed since the rules are in one location.


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Thermometer Graphic STRIPED BASS - Housekeeping

The department needs to update the coordinates for Sandy Point and Turkey Point. The coordinates appear in different regulations, but are not identical. This is a housekeeping change for clarification.


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Thermometer Graphic STRIPED BASS - Susquehanna River

The department is seeking input for the upper boundary of the catch and release area in the Susquehanna River. The Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission has asked the department to create a clear straight line in that area that will help anglers and enforcement officers. The department is considering four options. Please view the summary and map for details.


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Thermometer Graphic SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION

The department intends to update the delineations of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Protection Zones.​


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Thermometer Graphic TAUTOG

The department plans to implement changes for the commercial and recreational tautog fishery in response to the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Tautog.


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Thermometer Graphic

TROUT
COMAR 08.02.11.01

The purpose of this action is to create a new delayed harvest trout fishing area. The proposed action adds the South Branch Patapsco River from West Friendship Road (Howard Co) and Main Street (Carroll Co) upstream approximately 1.1 miles to the upper boundary of the Hugg Thomas Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the list of Group 1 Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas.


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Thermometer Graphic
YELLOW PERCH - Commercial

The purpose of this action is to remove the provision in the current regulations that requires a Department representative to be present during the sale of yellow perch in the live market. The Commercial Yellow Perch Workgroup, consisting of members from both the Sport and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions, asked the Department to consider this modification.


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