FISHERIES SERVICE: Scoping of Possible Regulations

 
The information provided on this webpage refers to possible regulations or issues which have not yet been proposed. Any text posted on this webpage is not official regulatory text and is subject to change prior to publication in the Maryland Register. The purpose of posting this text is to make the public aware of issues the Department is considering addressing and to elicit public feedback on these ideas. Receiving comments provides the Department with invaluable information and perspectives that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. Please limit feedback to the changes specified below. We appreciate your time and your commitment to Maryland's natural resources. If you have questions regarding the proposed regulations, please e- mail them to the Regulatory Staff.

Click here to Learn How to Get Involved with Fisheries Rulemaking.

Possible Regulations for 2013


Shell Recycling Tax Credit

What do the regulations do? House Bill 184 passed the 2013 session of the General Assembly and provides for a tax incentive for individuals or corporations to participate in oyster shell recycling programs. The law provides for an individual or a corporation to file for a $1 credit against State income tax for every bushel of oyster shells recycled in a taxable year up to $750 a year. In order to implement the tax credit program regulations must be jointly adopted by the Department of Natural Resources and the Comptroller. These regulations will implement the law by establishing the eligibility requirements for an individual or corporation to claim a State income tax credit, up to $750, for bushels of oyster shells recycled during the taxable year, establishing the eligibility requirements for a certified shell collector, and providing for the certification process.

Who is eligible for the tax credit? A shell recycler is eligible to claim a credit against the state income tax if the shell recycler:

  • Completes a free online registration on the Department's website prior to donating shell that includes the shell recycler's Tax Identification Number;
  • Donates the shell to a certified recycled shell collector; and
  • Submits certificate of tax credit eligibility with their tax forms for the taxable year to the Comptroller.

Only individuals and corporations can receive a tax credit from the Comptroller. If a partnership or business recycles shell, the tax credit shall be allocated among the owners as agreed to in writing by the owners in accordance with Internal Revenue Service rules.

Who can be a shell collector? The shell collector is a business, landfill, or nonprofit organizations used to verify the amount of oyster shells recycled by each shell recycler. Only an individual acting as an agent of a business entity certified as a shell collector may collect shell. A business must apply to the Department to be considered for shell collector certification. The application will require certain contact information, the location where the collected shell will be held, and the method for storing and aging the shell.

What is a shell collector required to do? A shell collector shall:

  • Collect the oyster shell from shell recyclers in accordance with the terms required by the Department and store the shell at an approved aggregation site;
  • Submit an electronic report via the Department's website verifying the location, date, and amount of each shell donation within 48 hours of collecting the donation;
  • Allow the Department, or the Department's designee, to inspect at reasonable hours the certified recycled shell collector's designated shell aggregation site and collected recycled shell; and
  • Notify the Department immediately of any changes to the shell collector's aggregation site location or contact information.

What shell is not eligible for the tax credit?
Bushels of shell that are:

  • Recycled and collected by the same person;
  • Replanted in an area leased by the shell recycler for shellfish aquaculture; or
  • Sold by the shell recycler or purchased by the shell collector.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on December 5, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Spotted Seatrout

Regulatory Scoping Idea The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) Fisheries Service is seeking public input on a potential fishery management rule change for the recreational and commercial fishery for Spotted Seatrout. Specifically, the action would implement more conservative harvest rules to facilitate Atlantic coast recovery efforts and better ensure that Maryland's Spotted Seatrout fishery does not expand faster than the stock can sustain. Ideas under consideration are included below.

Background: Maryland is at the northern range of Spotted Seatrout distribution along the Atlantic coast, and as such, are a less common species encountered by fishermen. Spotted Seatrout are seasonal migrants to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, migrating into the Bay around May and leaving the Bay to their southern wintering areas in October and November. Spotted Seatrout are most common in shallow creeks and rivers of the Chesapeake Bay adjacent to beds of eelgrass and widgeon grass, although they will move into deep channels and holes during mid-summer.

Recreational (sport and charter) harvests, both historically and recently, have substantially exceeded commercial harvests but remain low in comparison to other species caught in Chesapeake Bay. Since 1986, Maryland's Spotted Seatrout harvest has been 77% recreational and 23% commercial. The recreational fishery is a targeted fishery primarily in the lower Chesapeake Bay during the spring and fall. The commercial fishery has been a bycatch fishery with the principal harvest coming from pound net and gill net gears. Commercial Spotted Seatrout landings in Maryland have not exceeded 30,000 pounds annually since the 1940s. Over the past decade, annual commercial landings have been less than 2,000 pounds with 3-17 watermen reporting harvests.

Maryland's current management of the commercial Spotted Seatrout fishery includes a 12" minimum size limit, no daily catch limit and no season restriction. The recreational fishery is currently managed by a 14-inch minimum size limit, 10-fish daily creel limit and no season restriction. Maryland's Spotted Seatrout management regulations currently meet the management compliance requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Under the ASMFC framework, States are allowed to implement more conservative plans to meet their State management objectives. In 2011, the Commonwealth of Virginia implemented more conservative management measures for Spotted Seatrout. This included a 14-inch minimum size limit for the commercial and recreational fishery, a winter seasonal closure period, and annual commercial quota. Other jurisdictions along the Atlantic Coast have also implemented a more conservative size limit to provide increased protection to the spawning stock and obtain the greatest socio-economic benefit of this resource over time. These include: a minimum 14-inch size limit by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, North Carolina, and South Carolina, a 13-inch minimum size limit in Georgia and a 15-20-inch slot limit in Florida.

Spotted Seatrout males are 100% mature at age 2 (8-9 inches). Females mature between age 1 and age 4, and reach 100% maturity at an older age and larger size than males. A minimum size limit of 14-inches allows the majority of female Spotted Seatrout to spawn two times prior to being susceptible to harvest. In addition, a 14-inch minimum size limit will increase the yield for the fisheries.

Recreational fishermen have recently reported a noticeable increase in the availability of Spotted Seatrout in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. These reports are confirmed by increased estimates of Spotted Seatrout harvested as well as caught and released by recreational fishermen (National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Recreational Information Program). This could be the result of conservation efforts being implemented in the Mid/South Atlantic region, and/or due to the Bay's warmer and saltier waters during the past couple of years. Maryland is at the northern range of Spotted Seatrout, and warmer / drier summers could result in a more northern distribution of Spotted Seatrout.

During the 2013 Spotted Seatrout FMP review process, the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission (SFAC) requested MD DNR Fisheries Service to consider implementing a more conservative management strategy to support coastal conservation efforts and sustainable growth in Maryland's recreational and commercial Spotted Seatrout fisheries.

Regulatory Ideas:

  1. Increase the commercial minimum size limit from 12-inches to 14-inches. A 14-inch minimum size limit will allow a greater portion of fish an opportunity to spawn before they are harvested. If implemented, Maryland would have consistent size limits between its recreational and commercial fisheries as well as with Virginia which would facilitate enforcement and reduce confusion among fishermen. Maryland's Spotted Seatrout fishery is primarily in the lower Bay area, and fishermen often fish in both MD and VA waters during one trip.
  2. Reduce the recreational daily creel limit from 10 to 4 fish. This is a harvest control measure to support conservation efforts by better ensuring that the expansion of this fishery occurs at a level that the resource can sustain and achieve a recreational fisheries preference expressed to MD DNR Fisheries Service by the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission.
  3. Establish a commercial daily individual daily landing limit of 100, 150 or 200 pounds. This is a harvest control measure to support conservation efforts by better ensuring that the expansion of this fishery occurs at a level that the resource can sustain and minimize discard mortality. If established, the MD DNR would review regularly with the objective of increasing and decreasing daily landing limit along with changes in abundance.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on December 11, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Oyster Shell Pricing

The Department is required by regulation to annually asses the market price for shell, and to set the price paid to shucking houses based upon this assessment. The Department is proposing to increase the price paid for shells from $0.50 per bushel to $2.00 per bushel.

For more information regarding the background of oyster shell pricing, please click here.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on October 25, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Aquaculture

Current Shellfish Aquaculture Harvester Permit (SAHP) regulations require leaseholders to register anyone other than SAHP permittees, engaging in aquaculture activities while on a lease, with the Department. This requirement has made it difficult for leaseholders to utilize short term/temporary workers on their lease sites. The Department is interested in amending existing regulations to provide leaseholders with more flexibility in utilizing temporary workers on their leases and without having to register each individual under the SAHP.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on October 25, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us


American eels

As a result of the last ASMFC Board meeting, there will be several changes to eel regulations in Maryland. A coastwide minimum mesh size of " x " mesh will be required for all eel pots. There will be a 3 year phase in period where an escape panel of " x " (16 square inches) can be used on smaller mesh pots (this is the current regulation Maryland has in place). The only change will be that after 2016, the escape panels will no longer be allowed and the whole pot must be the minimum mesh size. Additionally, there will be a prohibition of harvest of American eels from gears other than pots, traps, and spears from September 1 to December 31. Therefore the harvest of eels in the Fall with fyke nets and pound nets would no longer be permitted. The minimum size for eels will also be raised from 6" to 9".

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on October 25, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Menhaden

Reporting requirements would be added for menhaden harvest during the unlimited fishery season. This will put Maryland in compliance with ASMFC's Menhaden FMP. Additionally, this will allow DNR to better manage the quota.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on October 25, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Snapping Turtles

Create a new declaration period of August 1 January 31 and a penalty system for suspending permits based on snapping turtle violations. The creation of the new declaration period is based upon the passage of Senate Bill 662 which created specific permits and permit fees. Recommendations were received from the Snapping Turtle Workgroup and discussed at their meeting.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on September 24, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Shark

Required Federal Changes. We are considering implementing regulations that would liberalize smooth dogfish fin to carcass ratios (total weight of separated fins to total weight of carcasses) based on ASMFC approval of Addendum II to the Coastal Sharks FMP. The addendum allows states to implement a ratio of 12% for smooth dogfish only. Currently, Maryland's ratio is 0% for all species. Based on fishing practices, and to limit opportunities for illegal activity, we are considering allocating a percentage based on the fin set (dorsal and pectoral vs. caudal) that is retained, not to exceed 12%.

We also need to update the in need of conservation statement and list of species.

Lastly, we need to change the minimum size limit for the following shark species: Finetooth, Blacknose, and all Hammerhead species (Great, Smooth, and Scalloped) in order to maintain compliance with ASMFC.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on September 24, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Bait Harvester Permit

Add mole crabs and grass shrimp to the bait harvester permit so individuals are able to commercially harvest these species for bait purposes. Authority related to permits was changed in Senate Bill 662 and now allows the addition of other fish species beyond just finfish.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on September 24, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


2014 Nontidal Update

The Department would like to update and clarify certain trout fishing and management areas. The action would change the upper boundary of the Put-and-Take/Catch-and-Release area on Owens Creek from Raven Rock Road to Buck Lantz Road. The change is necessary because stocking on Owens Creek extends to Buck Lantz Road.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on September 11, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Commercial Striped Bass

2014 Fishing rules for the common pool and ITQ fisheries were discussed by the Striped Bass Industry Workgroup in late June. The following fishing rules are being considered.

All striped bass fisheries (Common Pool and ITQ) would require commercially harvested striped bass to be tagged prior to landing. There will be ITQ and Common Pool fishery flags. A vessel cannot have both ITQ and Common Pool flags on board at the same time.


ITQ FISHERY:
The ITQ fishery would open June 1. An extra hour of fishing for ITQ hook and line would be added to the fishing day (sunrise to sunset). All ITQ harvested fish could be checked in by 9am the following day. An individual quota cap of 1% on temporary transfers would be implemented. Over-harvest tolerances would be for up to 50 pounds; however, any overages would be paid back the following year. ITQ can tag their fish prior to landing regardless of gear type. ITQ permit holders will not have a cap for the number of permits per vessel.


COMMON POOL FISHERY:
The Common Pool Fishery would have a March transfer period with expiration dates. The 50 pound tolerance for daily landing limits would be removed. A permittee would be limited to a daily catch limit for only one permit. Penalties for fishery violations and quota overages will be scoped after further discussions with the Striped Bass Industry Workgroup.


The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on September 5, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


St. Mary's Leasing

The purpose of this action is to add criteria for shellfish aquaculture leasing in the St. Mary's River Oyster Sanctuary. Revisions to the lease law allowed leasing in sanctuaries that is compatible with oyster restoration. Specific rules put in place to ensure restoration compatibility included that leases shall not occur on or within 150 feet of historic Yates oyster bars and that the total acreage of leased area shall not exceed 10% of the total sanctuary area.

The St. Mary's sanctuary is unique in that very few oysters grow within the Yates bars, and areas of high oyster density exist outside of Yates bars. Because of this, the Department is seeking to establish a combination of regulations and policies to ensure that leasing is compatible with oyster restoration in the St. Mary's River sanctuary. Because the suitable bottom in the St. Mary's is small relative to the total sanctuary area, to ensure that the restoration goals within the river can be met a minimum of 75 percent of the restorable bottom in the St. Mary's River will be protected.

The action establishes an oyster density criteria based on the Chesapeake Bay Program Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team guidelines for a restored area of 15 oysters / m2 . This is the minimum density considered to be a restored oyster bar. The oyster density would be calculated as the average density within a prospective lease based on multiple samples within the prospective lease area. If the average oyster density in the applied area is at or above 15 oysters / m2 the lease application will not be approved. This criterion would be in addition to existing regulations including no more than 10 percent of a total sanctuary area may be leased and leases may not be on Yates bars. The combined criteria will ensure that areas that are not considered restored may have their oyster densities increased through aquaculture.

Eleven complete submerged land lease applications totaling approximately 90 acres were filed between August and December 2011 for the St. Mary's River sanctuary.

Click here for the St. Mary's River Sanctuary Oyster Density Map.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on August 23, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Summer Flounder Commercial Size in Atlantic

The Department is considering changing the harvestable size of summer flounder caught commercially by hook and line in the Atlantic Ocean (outside of 1 mile) to 14 inches. Currently the size limit is the same as the recreational size limit of 16 inches. This would only apply to the Atlantic Ocean 1-3 miles offshore. The size limit change will not apply to summer flounder caught recreationally or to waters of the Atlantic Ocean within 1 mile of the coast, the coastal bays or their tributaries. If the Department moves forward with the size change an electronic reporting requirement may be implemented for this fishery.

A Public Scoping Meeting will be held June 5th, at 6pm at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Hazel Center Room #302

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on June 10, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us


Housekeeping

The proposal will remove all references to the apprenticeship program and other statutes that were repealed during the 2013 legislative session. All references to fees will also be corrected to reflect the new law (SB 662). Also, may adjust the pound net activity regulation to account for the $20 per net activity fee. Declaration periods for certain species permits (not striped bass) may be adjusted to allow for declaration at the time of license renewal. These species permits now cost $25 and it may be more convenient to pay at the time of license renewal.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on June 10, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us


Spiny Dogfish

The Department is considering regulations that would implement a limited entry spiny dogfish permit. The regulations are closely based on recommendations from the Spiny Dogfish Industry Workgroup, which met monthly from November 2012 March 2013. The goals of the workgroup were to protect local, active fishermen and provide for a fishery from November April each year, when spiny dogfish are present off Maryland. The regulations include control date qualifications, declaration guidelines, use it or lose it provisions, and transfer requirements. The workgroup would like the regulations to become effective by November 1, 2013.

A Public Scoping Meeting will be held May 30th, at 4 pm at the Ocean Pines Library - Click here for the Spiny Dogfish Scoping Meeting Presentation.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on June 3, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Oysters Diving Areas, Bushel Prices, Housekeeping

Diving Areas The proposal would prevent diving in some power dredge areas. As a result of cleaning up overlapping shellfish lines, some bottom previously off limits to diving has been opened. After consultation with the county oyster committees, the areas will be closed.

Housekeeping The proposal will fix shellfish lines. Some errors (points on land, out of order in the description, etc.) were found while mapping areas and will be clarified in this proposal. Any other overlapping areas will also be corrected.

Bushel prices Natural Resources Article, 4-1019.2, Annotated Code of Maryland states that the Department shall determine annually the fair market value that the Department pays for fresh oyster shells and transportation and placement of fresh oyster shells. Since these prices may change annually, the Department is proposing to remove the actual amounts from regulation and replace them with a statement that the amounts will be established by public notice. That notice will be posted on the Fisheries Service website, facebook, twitter and the Maryland Register.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us


Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

The proposal will update the clamming lines based on the submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) lines that were updated March 2013.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Nuisance Species Asian Horseshoe Crabs

The Department is proposing to add Asian horseshoe crabs to the list of prohibited species. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is currently seeking the introduction of state bans on the importation of Asian horseshoe crabs. The importation of Asian horseshoe crabs is a relatively recent development. Asian horseshoe crabs are often imported to be used as bait for species such as eel or whelk. The danger posed by these horseshoe crabs have not been their own invasive potential, but the potential spread of pathogens, parasites, and non-native species carried by crabs. The pathogens carry the potential of harming both local fisheries and human health, and pose the danger regardless of whether the animals are alive or dead.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Shellfish Aquaculture Nursery Permits

Legislation passed (HB306/SB464) during the 2013 general assembly session providing the Department with the authority to issue shellfish nursery permits rather than shellfish leases for in-water structures that meet certain criteria and are used only for shellfish seed production. These types of structures would be subject to a State review and joint authorization by the Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The regulatory proposal would establish a fee for shellfish nursery permits, developed in consultation with the Aquaculture Coordinating Council, and specific requirements for in-water structures that are authorized by the Department through a shellfish nursery permit. This action will facilitate industry development and allow businesses to begin operations in 2013.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Oysters Tags

The proposal would allow for harvesters to utilize a tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department issued harvester tag. The specifications for the information that must be included on the tag will be included in the regulation. Watermen may make their own tags with the specified information rather than obtaining tags from the Department. If a waterman prefers to get tags from the Department (license service center) there will be a charge (fee) for the tags and possibly a delay in receiving the tags due to unavailability of stock. This regulation will provide increased flexibility for shellfish harvesters and dealers and be a cost savings to the Department not having to supply harvester tags to these individuals.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 27, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation effective as Emergency Regulation on July 19, 2013 - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Shellfish Aquaculture Tags

The proposal would allow for leaseholders that are also certified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to utilize a dealer tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department issued harvester tag. The specifications for the information that must be included on the tag will be included in the regulation. This regulation will provide increased flexibility for shellfish dealers and be a cost savings to the Department not having to supply harvester tags to these folks.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 27, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation effective as Emergency Regulation on July 19, 2013 - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Recreational and Charter Blue Crab Regulatory Proposal

The draft Blue Crab regulatory proposal would advance recommendations from the scientific body which advises the Bay jurisdictions on crab management. Specifically, there is a recommendation to modify the recreational crabbing license structure to obtain more accurate and cost efficient estimates of recreational catch and effort. This proposal also provides the Department an opportunity to simplify the current recreational crabbing license structure which is overly complex and confusing to the public. The regulatory proposal would also provide a crabbing charter decal to facilitate development of charter crabbing and eco-tourism businesses, and increase non-resident recreational crabbing license fees in response to stakeholder requests. A summary of the proposal is provided.

Click here to view full recreational and charter Blue Crab Regulatory Proposal


There will be an open house 5/9 at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge, MD from 3pm to 7pm stop in any time to get information and submit written comments. Staff will be available to answer questions. Click here for the Recreational Crabbing Open House presentation


The public comment period closes at 11:59 p.m. on May 24, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Gear

Creates a chapter of regulation that specifically lists recreational fishing gear and certain commercial fishing gear and restrictions pertaining to the gears' uses.

There will be an open house 5/9 at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge, MD from 3pm to 7pm and 5/15 at Greenbriar State Park in Boonsboro, MD stop in any time to get information and submit written comments. Staff will be available to answer questions.

Click here for the Gear Open House Presentation

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 24, 2012. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.

Result: Regulation effective as Emergency Regulation on July 1, 2013 see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Menhaden

On December 14, 2012 the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission adopted Amendment 2 to the Atlantic Menhaden Fisheries Management Plan establishing a coast wide Total Allowable Catch (TAC) to reduce harvest of Atlantic Menhaden. The TAC is divided into state by state quotas, with each state being responsible for establishing management measures and harvest monitoring capabilities to stay within their quota. There currently is no Maryland specific or Chesapeake Bay FMP for Atlantic menhaden. Therefore, in order for Maryland to be in compliance with the management measures in Amendment 2 in a timely manner, Atlantic menhaden needs to be declared a species in need of conservation to promulgate regulations for the species. The regulations would allow the Department to set an annual commercial quota for Atlantic menhaden, set trip limits, set bycatch limits and impose new reporting requirements for commercial fishermen landing Atlantic menhaden.

2013 Scoping Meeting Presentation

Public Scoping Meetings:

April 9 at 6:00 pm at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge, Maryland
April 24 at 6:00 pm at Calvary United Methodist Church, 301 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland
April 30 at 6:00 pm at Tawes State Office Building, Room C-1, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Maryland

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on May 1, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Summer Flounder 2013 Options for Recreational Fishery

The Department intends to propose regulations in 2013 that expand the recreational summer flounder fishery. The Maryland harvest estimates in 2012 were significantly lower than the target that is set for Maryland in 2013, and we can therefore expand the fishery. Options that are currently being proposed to the ASMFC Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass, and Scup Technical Committee all include expansion of the fishery through decreased minimum sizes, expanded seasons, increased creels or a combination of those management measures. The ASMFC management board meets the week of February 18 to approve/deny the options.

2013 Options

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on March 29, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information.


Horseshoe Crabs

The Department is proposing to remove the current regulatory language regarding the annual quota and change the language to say that the annual quota will be consistent with interstate management and established by public notice. Currently, the Department issues a public notice after the management decision has been approved and then submits both emergency and proposed regulations with the limits specified in the public notice. There is a time period where the restrictions are different and can be confusing (regulation says one thing and the public notice something different). Removing the quota language from the regulation will make it clear where to find the information. The prohibition of harvesting females will also be added to regulation.

2013 Specifics: The Department intends to implement the 255,580 male-only horseshoe crab cap approved by the ASMFC horseshoe crab management process. This harvest level is based on the output of a multi-year, federal, state, and NGO partnership process that uses the Framework for Adaptive Resource Management (ARM) model to set harvest levels. The harvest levels proposed by the model are designed to be lower than necessary to ensure a sustainable harvest of horseshoe crabs and an overabundance of horseshoe crab eggs for red knots and other shorebird populations.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on February 11, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information. Public notice will be issued for the 2013 season see Public Notice Page for information



Recreational Sharks

The Department intends to propose regulations in 2013 that would add shark species to our recreational catch card reporting program. Currently, Bluefin Tuna, swordfish, and billfishes are required to be reported through this program. We will be proposing the addition of sharks in an effort to: 1) validate recreational estimates of shark harvest in Maryland, and 2) collect biological data such as length and weight to supplement stock assessments. Both of these kinds of data are lacking, and Maryland will be the first state to implement a census of recreational shark harvest.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on February 11, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information


Summer Flounder

The Department is proposing to remove the current regulatory language regarding the specific minimum size, creel limit and season for the recreational fishery and change the language to say that the recreational limits will be consistent with interstate management and established by public notice. Currently, the Department issues a public notice after ASMFC approves Maryland's summer flounder management decisions and then submits both emergency and proposed regulations with the limits specified in the public notice. There is a time period where the restrictions are different and can be confusing (regulation says one thing and the public notice something different). Removing the size, creel and season language from the regulation will make it clear where to find the information.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on February 11, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information


Black Sea Bass

The Department is proposing to remove the current regulatory language regarding the specific minimum size, creel limit and season for the recreational fishery and change the language to say that the recreational limits will be consistent with interstate management and established by public notice. Currently, the Department issues a public notice after the management decision has been approved and then submits both emergency and proposed regulations with the limits specified in the public notice. There is a time period when the restrictions in the regulation and public notice are different and it can be confusing (regulation says one thing and the public notice something different). Removing the size, creel and season language from the regulation will make it clear where to find the information.

2013 Specifics: The Department intends to implement regulations that are consistent with management measures determined to meet the coastwide reduction in recreational harvest in 2013. A coastwide 51% reduction in harvest, in numbers of fish, would be required to achieve the 2013 Recreational Harvest Limit (1.84 million pounds or 1 million fish). Maryland is working with our partners to limit our share of the reduction and a resolution will be reached through the ASMFC and MAFMC management process.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on February 11, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information


Aquaculture

Emergency regulations have been in effect since September 2012, which allow leaseholders to harvest oysters that are a minimum of 2" for sale while the public fishery is closed, create a one inch maximum seed size limit, allow a 5% tolerance limit (same as commercially harvested oysters), adds an application fee for water column leases of $300 (same as submerged land leases), and adds an annual rent of $25 per acre for all water column leases.

The Department has been working with the Aquaculture Coordinating Council to determine harvest size requirements. The regulatory proposal would expand the ability to sell oysters harvested from a water column lease that are a minimum of 2" by allowing year round sale of such oysters. Leaseholders with submerged land leases would only be authorized to sell oysters that are a minimum of 2" while the public oyster fishery is closed, April 1-September 30. This regulation will provide the industry with the ability to supply existing markets with smaller oysters in order to remain competitive and increase profitability.

The proposal would additionally allow for leaseholders that are also certified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to utilize a dealer tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department issued harvester tag. The specifications for the information that must be included on the tag will be included in the regulation. This regulation will provide increased flexibility for shellfish dealers and be a cost savings to the Department not having to supply harvester tags to these folks.

Seed size, tolerance limit, application fee and annual rent will be the same as in the emergency.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on March 4, 2013. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us

Result: Regulation Proposed - see Proposed Regulations Page for more information


Restitution

The purpose of the action is to create a restitution system for egregious fishing violations. Currently, when someone is convicted of violating fishing laws, such as taking and possessing undersized fish, the fine they pay goes to the State's general funds. The Department may see some of that money, but it also may not. In a restitution system, which is in addition to the standard fine issued on a ticket or by a court, the money would go directly to the Department. These funds will go to protect and preserve the resource which was illegally taken. In other words, the individual in addition to a fine would have to reimburse the State, who is vested with protecting the public's resource, for the illegally harvested resource.

Restitution would be collected for certain species such as brook trout, crabs, oysters, and striped bass. For nontidal species, the restitution would be the cost to restock the species multiplied by its value for recreation, aesthetics, endangered status, economic value, and population status. For tidal species, the restitution would be the dockside value of the species multiplied by its value for recreation, aesthetics, endangered status, economic value, and population status. The species value criteria would be scored from zero to three with three being given to species which are the most desirable. The accumulated score would be multiplied by 0.1 to arrive at a factor which will be multiplied with either the dockside value or the stocking cost. This final cost will be applied to each fish illegally harvested.

Restitution Draft Regulation

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on August 15, 2012. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.


Blue Crabbing Charters/Education Permits

Currently, the Department does not have rules pertaining to crabbing charters consolidated into one regulation. This has caused some confusion for individuals who want to charter crabbing trips. The Department would like to have one regulation which lays out all the rules in one place. A commercial tidal fish license holder with a fishing guide authorization may take recreational crabbers out crabbing for compensation. The paying customers are required to follow recreational crabbing rules and the vessel limit of 2 bushels applies.

Additionally, some tidal fish license holders would like to take individuals out on educational tours, which may include giving a demonstration of commercial activities. The regulation will clarify that an education permit is required for this activity.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on August 15, 2012. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.


Clams

Clarify language for which portions of the regulations apply to Mya and Tagelus; adopt National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) requirements for tagging and containerizing.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on March 30, 2012. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.


Fishery Management Plans

Amendments for Clam. Clams will include requirements for NSSP compliance. The current FMP is specific to Coastal hard clams and does not address the unique issues of clams (hard and soft) in the Chesapeake Bay.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on February 16, 2012. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.


General Housekeeping

Adds recreational license reciprocity agreement language for recreational fishing registrations. The recreational license reciprocity agreement was altered in light of the changes local jurisdictions made regarding the Federal Saltwater Angler Registry. Maryland and Virginia have reciprocal licenses under this agreement but require the holders of such licenses to register in their State.

The public comment period closes at 4:00 p.m. on February 16, 2012. If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment@dnr.state.md.us.


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