FISHERIES SERVICE: Penalty Page



Maryland Fishing License Suspensions/Revocations

  • DNR Commercial Fishing Suspensions/Revocations as of: 4/08/2014
  • DNR Recreational Fishing Suspensions/Revocations as of: 4/16/2014



Commercial Fishing License Suspensions Due to Reporting Violations

  • Commercial Suspensions for Reporting Violations as of : May 2013



What are fishing penalties?

The State of Maryland, which is responsible for preserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing natural resources such as fish, are sustained for use and enjoyment of all its citizens. In order to do this, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been authorized by the Maryland General Assembly to create fishing laws called regulations. These laws are contained in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). The Maryland General Assembly also creates fishing laws called statutes and these laws are contained in the Annotated Code of Maryland.

If a person violates any of these laws, they are subject to a penalty in the form of a fine and/or a suspension of fishing activity/activities. These penalties may be administered through a criminal proceeding in District Court and/or through an administrative proceeding with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).

How do I get a fine?

If a Natural Resource Police officer finds that you have violated a fishing law, they will issue you a citation, similar to what you would get if you were caught speeding in your car. Most fishing laws have prepayable fines set by the Maryland District Courts. The citation will either list this prepayable fine and the option of a trial or give you a trial date in District Court if there is not a prepayable fine for that violation.

If you have a citation which lists a prepayable fine, you may choose to either prepay the fine as explained on the citation or go to District Court. If you prepay the fine, you are admitting you are guilty of that violation. If you choose to go to court, the court will decide whether you are guilty of committing the violation. If you are guilty by either prepaying the fine or by the court issuing judgment and possible fine, the Department may suspend you from participating in fishing activity/activities through a separate proceeding with OAH. The District Court also has the right to suspend an individual from participating in fishing activity/activities.

What happens if I am guilty?

If you have prepaid the fine or you are found guilty by the District Court, DNR will apply any applicable suspensions and/or points to your license (points are only applied for commercial licenses). If a suspension is applicable, DNR will notify you of the proposed suspension. You will have 30 days to request a hearing with DNR. If you request a hearing as directed in the notice you received from DNR, DNR will contact you and set up any required hearings with the OAH which hears contested cases for the majority of all state agencies. OAH will set up a hearing date with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and will send you a notice for that hearing. The ALJ will hear both sides on reasons why the suspension should be applied or not and will make a final decision that can be appealed to the Circuit Court.

How are points and/or suspensions applied?

COMMERCIAL

All commercial fishing licenses (including charter/guide*) may have points applied to them if an individual is found guilty of violating a law. Points are also applied to individuals who violate a commercial fishing law without a commercial license. A table of points can be found in COMAR 08.02.13.03. Additional information can be found in COMAR 08.02.13.02. This table lists the violations which have points assigned to them (not all violations result in points). DNR will evaluate each citation for possible points. If you are found guilty, then DNR will send you a letter letting you know that you have points assigned to your license and what the proposed suspension is if there are enough points for a suspension. This letter will also state that you may request a hearing within 30 days (the deadline date for this request will be in the letter). If you request a hearing as directed in the notice you received from DNR, DNR will contact you and set up any required hearings with the OAH which hears contested cases for the majority of all state agencies. OAH will set up a hearing date with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and will send you a notice for that hearing. The ALJ will hear both sides on reasons why the suspension should be applied or not and will make a final decision that can be appealed to the Circuit Court.

REVOCABLE COMMERCIAL OFFENSES

In addition to the points which may be applied to commercial fishing licenses, for certain categories of egregious, repeat, or knowing violations DNR may revoke a commercial fishing license or authorization for striped bass, crabs, or oysters after an OAH hearing. These revocations are separate from the point system for commercial fishing licenses. The requirements for revoking oyster authorizations can be found in Natural Resources Article, 4-1210, Annotated Code of Maryland. And the requirements for revoking a crab or striped bass authorization can be found in COMAR 08.02.13.09.

*Charter boat captains and fishing guides also can receive points on their commercial licenses and suspensions from accumulated points just like other commercial license holders. However, since these license holders are held to recreational rules, they have a separate points table. The points and suspension regulations for charter/guide can be found in COMAR 08.02.13.07 and 08.02.13.08.

RECREATIONAL

If you receive a guilty for violating a recreational fishing law, you may be suspended from fishing. Not all violations result in a suspension. For a list of suspendable recreational violations, see COMAR 08.02.13.05. DNR will evaluate each citation for possible suspensions. If you are found guilty, then DNR will send you a letter letting you know what the proposed suspension is. This letter will also state that you may request a hearing within 30 days (the deadline date for this request will be in the letter). If you request a hearing as directed in the notice the individual received from DNR, DNR will contact you and set up any required hearings with the OAH which hears contested cases for the majority of all state agencies. OAH will set up a hearing date with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and will send you a notice for that hearing. The ALJ will hear both sides on reasons why the suspension should be applied or not and will make a final decision that can be appealed to the Circuit Court. Additionally, Maryland is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. The Compact allows each state to notify the other member states of individuals suspended from hunting or fishing. The other state will then issue an identical suspension. Individuals suspended by Maryland for recreational fishing violations, may be suspended for the same time period in the other states through this Compact.

REPORTING

Commercial license holders are required to report harvest to the Department under Natural Resources Article, 4-206. DNR requires several different catch logs to be completed and submitted by commercial licensees (certain permits may require additional specific reports). If the commercial catch logs listed in COMAR 08.02.13.06 are not submitted in a timely manner, a suspension may be applied to the license. The violations for late reporting can be found in COMAR 08.02.13.06. For more information on reporting violations and penalties click here.