Maryland Proposed Fishing Regulations

This is a summary of regulatory proposals submitted by Fisheries Service. Consult the Maryland Register, Code of Maryland Regulations and Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland for full legal text. If you have questions regarding the proposed regulations, please e- mail them to the Regulatory Staff.

Fisheries Service welcomes public comment on proposed regulations. However, only comments entered during the official public comment period specified under the State Government Article, Title 10, Annotated Code of Maryland become part of the official regulatory record. The official public comment period is 30 days after publication in the Maryland Register. Receiving comments on the proposal provides the Department with invaluable information and perspectives that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. The Maryland Register notice will provide contact information where all official public comments may be sent.

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View Proposed Fishing Regulations by Year (Currently Showing 2012)

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date

Yellow Perch

Proposed October 1, 2012 October 19, 2012 None November 19, 2012 December 24, 2012

08.02.21.04

The purpose of this action is to amend yellow perch regulations for better management of the fishery. The Department is proposing to open, close, or modify a commercial season in order to manage the quota by putting notice on the reporting phone system and Fisheries Services' website. Currently, the Department can open, close, or modify a commercial season in order to manage the quota by publishing notice in a daily newspaper of general circulation at least 24 hours in advance, stating the effective hour and date. Newspaper deadlines have made managing the season difficult as it often takes longer than 48 hours to get the notice to the newspaper and have the action become effective. Licensees are required to report daily catch, regardless of amount, to the Department by 11:59 p.m. every day through the Department-described process. The process is through a phone system. The notice would be placed on the phone system and on the website at least 24 hours before it becomes effective. The proposed action will improve the Department's ability to prevent the harvest from exceeding the annual harvest target.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date

Fishing in Nontidal Waters

Proposed October 1, 2012 October 19, 2012 None November 19, 2012 December 31, 2012

08.02.11.01 and .03

The purpose of this action is to update and clarify existing regulations for fishing in nontidal waters. The action allows for night fishing in impoundments larger than 5 acres that are stocked with trout. This was accidently removed when the Fishing in Nontidal Waters chapter was reorganized in 2011.

The action removes Lion's Park Pond in Allegany County and Avalon Pond (Lost Lake) in Baltimore County from the list of areas limited to individuals under 16 years of age, 65 years of age and older, and blind persons. Both locations have handicapped facilities that are being underutilized due to the current regulation. Both areas will be placed on the Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Areas list which will allow anglers of all ages to access the areas for fishing. Additional user restrictions on these areas may be established by the local governing authority.

The proposed action makes several clarifications to the put and take trout fishing areas. The wording for the boundaries for Bear Creek is described better. The current wording refers to ―watershed and does not accurately describe the area under put-and-take management. Sand Run Watershed and South Germantown Park Pond are removed from the put and take areas because the areas are no longer stocked due to the lack of quality fishing. The closure for North Jennings Run in Allegany County is changed so that it is consistent with Jennings Run because the two areas are adjacent and the consistent closure will enhance enforcement ability.

The action also establishes Catoctin Creek (Frederick County) within the boundaries of Catoctin Creek Park as a Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas. The recently developed park contains over a mile of Catoctin Creek offering a much needed public stream access in southern Frederick County. Water quality and fishery data suggest that the greatest trout fishing opportunities can be provided cost effectively with delayed harvest regulations. Finally, the action changes the Governors Bridge Natural Area Pond from a catch and return area to a limited harvest area. Limited harvest areas have specific size and creel limits. Management of that pond is being changed because several electrofishing surveys have shown that the pond is overcrowded and total catch and release is not the best management tool for that pond.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date

Shellfish - General American Lobsters

Proposed October 1, 2012 October 19, 2012 October 25, 2012 November 19, 2012 December 24, 2012

08.02.08.10

The purpose of this action is to amend the American Lobster regulations to be consistent with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) interstate fishery management plan. In February, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's American Lobster Board approved Addendum XVII to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan. The addendum addressed rebuilding the Southern New England (SNE) lobster stock and contained measures for lobster conservation management areas (LCMAs) 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The measures are intended to reduce fishing exploitation on the SNE stock by 10 percent in response to the stock's depleted condition, which has been at low levels of abundance and experiencing persistent low recruitment since 2002. Maryland state waters of the Atlantic Ocean are part of LCMA 5 and Maryland is required to adopt regulations by January 1, 2013. The proposed action requires mandatory v-notching of all female lobsters, immediate release of egg-bearing female lobsters, and a season closure to the landing of lobsters from February 1 through March 31. During the February 1-March 31 closure, lobster potters will have a two week period to remove lobster pots from the water and may set lobster pots one week prior to the end of the closed season.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Shellfish Aquaculture Emergency August 1, 2012 October 5, 2012 None N/A September 13, 2012 through January 15, 2013

08.02.23.03 and .04

Emergency status is requested so that aquaculture harvester permitees will be allowed to harvest a smaller size oyster for at least one month before the commercial oyster season begins on October 1, 2012. The addition of fees will ensure that all water column leasees are paying the same amount for rent.

The Department has been working with the Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council (Council) in developing a regulatory package that addresses several issues while supporting industry development and maintaining our commitment to protect and enhance Maryland's natural resources. The following regulatory proposals were drafted in consultation with the Council:

Legislation was passed in 2012 that provides the Department the authority to establish a fee structure for water column aquaculture activities and to set size limits that are specific to farm-raised oysters harvested from private aquaculture leases. When the State authority for aquaculture permitting was consolidated from MDE to DNR in 2011, the ability to charge application fees and annual rent for water column leases was not included in the transfer of authority. The proposed regulation will establish a one-time non-refundable fee of $300 for new water column lease applications and an annual water column lease rent of $25 per acre.

Currently, all market oysters harvested from Maryland waters and offered for sale must be a minimum of 3 inches in size. Strong market demand exists for farm-raised oysters smaller than 3 inches. Maryland growers must be able to compete with those states currently supplying these markets or our industry will remain at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. The proposed regulation will establish a minimum harvest size of 2 inches for market oysters harvested from leases when the public oyster fishery is not open to assist in protecting wild oyster resources. When the public oyster fishery is open, leaseholders would only be permitted to sell oysters that are at least 3 inches in size. The Department will continue to work with the Council to evaluate the sale of undersized oysters from leases and work towards identifying a means to provide the industry with more flexibility in selling this product year round. The proposed regulation also establishes a maximum seed size, for cultured oysters, of 1 inch. This will allow aquaculture harvesters to grow seed oysters in restricted waters and meet National Shellfish Sanitation Guidelines.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Black Sea Bass Permanent August 20, 2012 September 7, 2012 None October 9, 2012 November 12, 2012

COMAR 08.02.05.21

The purpose of this action is to amend recreational and commercial black sea bass regulations. The action amends the recreational season, clarifies the commercial regulations and adds flexibility to the permitted fisheries by opening a 14 day period during which licensees could appeal to declare late.

The black sea bass fishery is managed cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). States manage these three species within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, under ASMFC's plan for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The applicable species-specific Federal regulations govern vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass Federal charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where they fish.

For the recreational fishery, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published the proposed rule for the recreational management measures (size limit, possession limit and season) for the black sea bass fishery. In the proposed rule, MAFMC agreed to reinstate last year's recreational limits in Federal waters, with a season adjustment to allow for fishing over two additional weekends. ASMFC has approved Addendum XXI to the Black Sea Bass FMP that describes conservation equivalency approaches for black sea bass recreational management measures in state waters. Based on this addendum, ASMFC has approved recreational management measures for Maryland that are nearly status quo with 2011. Those recreational limits are: 12 ½ inch minimum size, the possession limit of 25 fish and a recreational season of May 19 – October 14 and November 1 – December 31. The proposed action for the black sea bass recreational fishery provides the necessary conservation to ensure the 2012 recreational harvest limit will not be exceeded.

For the commercial fishery clarifying the regulations will make it easier for those involved in the fishery to understand the requirements. Specifically, the proposed action allows for transfer of 100% of individual's quota, but places a cap on the amount of quota any one individual may acquire; clarifies how overages will be deducted from future quotas; clearly defines the declaration period and requirements for a licensee to declare their intent to fish; establishes a cap of 14 black sea bass landing permits at the current number; clarifies that temporary transfers are not permitted; allows for operators to harvest a permittee's fish as long as the operator is in possession of the permittee's permit; and clarifies that there is a limit of two quotas that may be fished off the same vessel.

The proposed action updates the public notice provision to include the reasons for making changes to the fishery by public notice. It also modifies the method of dispersing public notices by requiring public notices to be posted on the Fisheries Service's website rather than in the newspaper. Social media (twitter, facebook, text messaging, etc.) will also be used. Stakeholder comments have indicated that the legal section of the newspapers is not an effective means for communicating fishing rule changes. The funds used for publishing notices will be used for management activities, including disseminating information.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Summer Flounder Permanent August 6, 2012 August 24, 2012 None September 24, 2012 October 29, 2012

COMAR 08.02.05.12

The purpose of this action is to amend recreational and commercial summer flounder regulations. The action amends the recreational size limit and season, clarifies the commercial regulations and adds flexibility to the permitted fisheries by opening a 14 day period during which licensees could appeal to declare late.

For the recreational fishery the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a 7% increase in the coast-wide 2012 summer flounder total allowable landings (TAL) over the 2011 TAL. The increase in TAL resulted in a coast-wide recreational harvest limit of 12.63 million pounds for the 2012 fishing year, as a result Maryland will be allowed to harvest more summer flounder than they harvested in 2011. The 2012 target is 82,000 fish. Preliminary estimates from Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS) data estimates Maryland's 2011 recreational harvest to be 15,347 fish and well under the 2011 target. The 2011 under-harvest has allowed Maryland to liberalize the 2012 recreational summer flounder regulations.

Several options for the 2012 recreational season were discussed with user groups and advisory commissions. The option chosen reduces the minimum size limit and increases the fishing season for 2012. Specifically, the proposed action reduces the recreational size limit from 18 to 17 inches, starts the season two days earlier on April 14, and extends the season through December 16. The recreational regulations will continue to apply to fish caught in all State waters (Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters). Finally, by virtue of the regulations, the size limit for summer flounder caught by commercial hook and line in State waters will also decrease from 18 inches to 17 inches.

For the commercial fishery clarifying the regulations will make it easier for those involved in the fishery to understand the requirements. Specifically, the proposed action allows for transfer of 100% of individual's quota, but places a cap on the amount of quota any one individual may acquire; clarifies how overages will be deducted from future quotas; clearly defines the declaration period and requirements for a licensee to declare their intent to fish; allows for operators to harvest a permittee's fish as long as the operator is in possession of the permittee's permit; clarifies that temporary transfers are not permitted; clarifies that there is a limit of two quotas that may be fished off the same vessel; establishes a cap of 7 summer flounder landing permits at the current number.

The proposed action updates the public notice provision to include the reasons for making changes to the fishery by public notice. It also modifies the method of dispersing public notices by requiring public notices to be posted on the Fisheries Service's website rather than in the newspaper. Social media (twitter, facebook, text messaging, etc.) will also be used. Stakeholder comments have indicated that the legal section of the newspapers is not an effective means for communicating fishing rule changes. In addition, newspaper notices are very expensive, and this change will allow the Department to use funds to promote other electronic means of disseminating the information.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Black Bass Tournament Permanent August 6, 2012 August 24, 2012 None September 24, 2012 October 29, 2012

COMAR 08.02.01.11

The purpose of this action is to create a permanent, permitting database of annual tournaments for black bass (largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) and smallmouth bass (M. dolomieu)) in Maryland. Largemouth and smallmouth black bass provide recreational fishing for a great diversity of anglers. At an estimated 3 million fishing days per year, largemouth bass is the most sought after sport fish in Maryland. Permitting tournaments provides a cost-effective way of partitioning fishing effort across black bass populations each year. Estimates of effort may be used when allocating resources of Fisheries Service to specific populations and assigning value to an area. Permitting also provides tournament directors and bass anglers in Maryland with consolidated information on all competitive bass fishing events in the state for that year. Permitting also provides a mechanism for promoting emerging ideas in bass conservation with all directors and bass anglers. Finally, a condition of the permit is to report catch data. The catch data from tournaments will be used to assess catch trends, estimate resource usage, and evaluate the worth of black bass fishing to State and local economies. Detailed summaries of these data will be provided to registered tournament directors each year.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters - PSFA Permanent July 9, 2012 July 27, 2012 None August 27, 2012 October 1, 2012

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 (June 2012)". This document contains coordinates for all public shellfish fishery areas (PSFA) in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

Coordinates for PSFAs 17, 22, 33, 102, 112, 118, 132, 157 and 164 have been corrected. The coordinates were incorrect and overlapped with sanctuary coordinates or crossed jurisdictional boundary lines that are currently in place. This action corrects those coordinates to align with the sanctuary and jurisdiction lines.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters - Power Dredge & Hand Tong Permanent July 9, 2012 July 27, 2012 None August 27, 2012 October 1, 2012

COMAR 08.02.04.09 and .12

The purpose of this action is to remove the requirement for a power dredge permit and clarify existing coordinates for hand tong only and power dredge areas. Currently, the Department requires oyster harvesters using a power dredge to obtain a free permit for the activity. The permit was necessary in order to determine the amount of power dredge effort. Recent regulation changes require all oyster harvesters to report activity to the Department by gear type. Therefore, the power dredge permit as a tool to determine activity is no longer needed. The proposed action removes the permit requirement and clarifies that the areas listed in regulation are the only areas where power dredges may be used. The proposed action also corrects and removes coordinates for several areas in hand tong and power dredge that overlapped with other areas. Effort has been made to remove overlapping gear areas; however, language has been added to clarify that there is no harvest from sanctuaries and if a power dredge area and hand tong only area are located in the same space, the area is not considered hand tong only.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Horseshoe Crabs Permanent July 9, 2012 July 27, 2012 None August 27, 2012 October 1, 2012

COMAR 08.02.10.01

The purpose of this action is to allow clarification and some flexibility in Horseshoe Crab permits. The proposed action adds flexibility to the coastal permitted fisheries by opening a 14 day period during which licensees could seek to declare late.

Clarifying the regulations will make it easier for those involved in the fishery to understand the requirements. Specifically, the proposed action clarifies: how overages will be deducted from future quotas, the declaration period and requirements for a licensee to declare their intent to fish, the limit of two quotas that may be fished off the same vessel, and the reporting and penalties associated with failing to report. The proposed action establishes a cap of 10 horseshoe crab landing permits at the current number based on the criteria previously established to obtain a permit. The action also updates the public notice provision to include the reasons for making changes to the fishery by public notice. The proposed action also modifies the method of dispersing public notices by requiring public notices to be posted on the Fisheries Service's website rather than in the newspaper. Social media (twitter, facebook, text messaging, etc.) will also be used. Stakeholder comments have indicated that the legal section of the newspapers is not an effective means for communicating fishing rule changes. In addition, newspaper notices are very expensive, and this change will allow the Department to use funds to promote other electronic means of disseminating the information.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Blue Crab FMP Amendment Permanent June 7, 2012 June 29, 2012 None July 30, 2012 September 3, 2012

COMAR 08.02.01.01

A new benchmark stock assessment for the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population and associated fisheries was completed in 2011 (Miller et al, 2011). This assessment generated new biological reference points specific to the female component of the blue crab population. In August of 2011, the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee (CBSAC) met to review the assessment and recommended that the jurisdictions adopt the new female-specific reference points. In order to ensure that male abundance does not drop below a critical level relative to female abundance, the CBSAC also recommended the development of a threshold reference point for male crabs that would provide a management trigger for male conservation (CBSAC, 2011). Amendment #2 to the 1997 Chesapeake Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan provides the mechanism for formally adopting the new biological reference points and control rule. Amendment #2 also establishes the need for developing a male threshold reference point; and, recognizes the importance of fishery-independent and fishery-dependent monitoring. Amendment #2 replaces the first six actions in the 2003 Amendment #1 to the 1997 Chesapeake Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Tautog Permanent June 7, 2012 June 29, 2012 None July 30, 2012 September 3, 2012

COMAR 08.02.05.20

The purpose of the proposed action is to bring Maryland into compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Addendum VI to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Tautog. The 2011 tautog stock assessment update estimated that the tautog stock is overfished. Addendum VI established management measures in order to promote stock rebuilding. Based on decisions made over the course of the last year at the ASMFC Tautog Management Board, Maryland was originally required to implement regulation changes that result in a 49% reduction in harvest in our Tautog fishery. Regulations to comply with the reduction became effective April 2, 2012. After review, corrections to the stock assessment indicate that the coastwide reduction should be 39%. The proposed action meets the 39% reduction in Maryland and extends the open fishing season to November 26th. The season will be closed from November 27 through December 31. The proposed action also includes a public notice provision which will allow the Department to make changes to season, size and creel limits required by the ASMFC fishery management plan for tautog.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Fishing in Nontidal Waters Emergency May 22, 2012 None None 6/26/12 thru 12/31/12

COMAR 08.02.11.01

The purpose of this action is to remove Lion's Park Pond in Allegany County and Avalon Pond (Lost Lake) in Baltimore County from the list of areas limited to individuals under 16 years of age, 65 years of age and older, and blind persons. Both locations have handicapped facilities that are being underutilized due to the current regulation. Both areas will be placed on the Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Areas list which will allow anglers of all ages to access the areas for fishing. Additional user restrictions on these areas may be established by the local governing authority.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Fish – Spanish Mackerel Permanent April 13, 2012 May 4, 2012 None June 4, 2012 July 23, 2012

COMAR 08.02.05.14

The purpose of this action is to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Omnibus Amendment to the Interstate Fishery Management Plans for Spanish Mackerel, Spot, and Spotted Seatrout. Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus maculatus, support significant recreational and commercial fisheries in South Atlantic waters and is gaining importance in the Mid-Atlantic. Spanish mackerel is one of several species that the ASMFC manages cooperatively with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Spanish mackerel are managed under Amendment I (2011) to the Spanish mackerel Fishery Management Plan (1990).

The primary purpose of managing the Spanish mackerel stock is to ensure that the resource can be utilized throughout its range by current and future generations of the fishing and non-fishing public. An additional purpose is to foster compatible management among the states that harvest these resources, and in the case of Spanish mackerel, between the states and the federal government.

Specifically, the proposed action requires Spanish mackerel harvested recreationally to be landed with both the head and fins intact and creates a trip limit of 3500 pounds per vessel per day, whichever is longer, for the commercial fishery. The proposed action also updates the format of the regulation and updates the public notice provision to include the reasons for making changes to the fishery by public notice.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Seafood Marketing – True Blue Program Permanent May 24, 2012 June 15, 2012 None July 16, 2012 August 20, 2012

COMAR 08.02.24.01

The purpose of this action is to create a program that would promote blue crab harvested from Maryland. The 'True Blue' certification program will allow restaurants serving Department-verified Maryland blue crab product to use a special logo in marketing or advertising the product. Currently, it is unclear to consumers whether they are purchasing blue crab product that was actually harvested in Maryland. By providing this certification program and logo, consumers will be more aware of what they are purchasing and food service establishments serving Maryland harvested blue crab and Maryland blue crab harvesters, wholesalers, and dealers will benefit from the ability to market their product. The action provides for the application and participation of the program. The action also provides penalties for a food service establishment who illegally uses the logo. This action was created in coordination with the Seafood Marketing Advisory Committee.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Free Fishing Areas-Coast Permanent May 24, 2012 June 15, 2012 None July 16, 2012 August 20, 2012

COMAR 08.02.01.07

The purpose of this action is to add free fishing areas in Maryland's coastal waters. Free fishing areas are areas where a recreational fishing license is not required and were created shortly after the implementation of the Tidal Sportfish License in the mid-1980s. With the expansion of the Chesapeake Bay Sportfish license (now known as the Chesapeake and Coastal Sportfishing license) to include Maryland's coastal waters, the Coastal Fisheries Advisory Committee, with input from the Town of Ocean City, made a request to the Department to create free fishing areas on Maryland's coast.

Initially, free fishing areas were created to provide for subsistence fishermen in economically disadvantaged areas. Reasons for creating free fishing areas have changed over the years. Recent goals and criteria for maintaining or establishing new free fishing areas include providing high quality, safe, accessible and geographically equitable opportunities for families to fish together (fostering the mentorship role of new and existing adult anglers) and for adults engaging in subsistence fishing in economically disadvantaged areas.

The three areas considered were Northside Park at 125th Street, the bulkhead behind the Ocean City Convention Center at 42nd Street, and the Chicago Avenue bulkhead between 2nd and 4th streets. DNR Fisheries staff visited the areas and met with representatives of local bait & tackle stores, fishing clubs, and the Town of Ocean City to obtain feedback on support for the areas. The areas were scoped by discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each area with the Coastal Fisheries Advisory Committee, Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission and at an open house held at the Worcester County Library Ocean Pines Branch in Ocean Pines, Maryland. The areas that best met the goals and criteria for establishing free fishing areas are Northside Park and the Chicago Avenue bulkhead. The proposed action adds both of these areas to the list of free fishing areas in Maryland.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Pilot Program Permanent March 5, 2012 March 23, 2012 None April 23, 2012 May 28, 2012

COMAR 08.02.01.10

The purpose of the proposed action is to create a pilot program permit structure for future commercial fisheries pilot programs. The Department of Natural Resources proposes to conduct certain voluntary pilot projects for practical demonstration and evaluation of alternative fisheries management and harvest methods to increase harvest accountability as well as efficiency and value within the fishery.

Current fisheries management is burdened by historical management practices largely developed over the last 100 years. Regulatory practices necessary to support that system lack flexibility in application and are often too complex for easy understanding. Typically fisheries today are managed by requiring inefficiency of harvesters. With each regulatory step, harvesters attempt to regain efficiency through unforeseen loopholes or advances in harvest techniques which outpace the regulation. Management agencies respond with additional regulations – and the cycle continues. The Department believes the regulatory burden on both management agency and harvesters can be significantly reduced by emphasizing improved harvest accountability techniques and resulting increased efficiency value in the fishery. However, rather than temporarily create additional regulations that only apply to permit holders, the Department proposes to conduct pilot projects developed in cooperation with the commercial fishing industry. Individuals participating in these projects would receive permits from the Department. The permits would specify the details of the project. Additionally, Natural Resource Police would be informed of all permit holders and projects. Pilot projects for demonstration and evaluation of alternative accountability practices would greatly enhance development and application of improved management practices.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Tautog Permanent January 9, 2012 December 23, 2011 None February 27, 2012 April 2, 2012

COMAR 08.02.05.20

The purpose of the proposed action is to bring Maryland into compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Addendum VI to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Tautog. The 2011 tautog stock assessment update estimated that the tautog stock is overfished. Addendum VI established management measures in order to promote stock rebuilding. Based on decisions made over the course of the last year at the ASMFC Tautog Management Board, Maryland is required to implement regulation changes that result in a 49% reduction in harvest in our Tautog fishery. The reduction is based on the average harvest from 2008 and 2009. ASMFC did not specify which changes must be made, allowing states some flexibility; however, they stated that reductions in the fishery must be achieved through size limit increases in whole inch increments, possession limit decreases, seasonal closures of at least 14 days, or a combination of those factors.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters — Power Dredge Study Areas Emergency and Permanent January 9, 2012 January 27, 2012 None February 27, 2012 Emergency: Pending Approval Permanent: April 2, 2012

COMAR 08.02.04.12

The purpose of the proposed action is to establish a power dredge study zone in Dorchester County to study the impacts of the power dredge fishery on oyster populations. The Department's criteria for the study included: 1) identification of zones in a range of salinities (low, medium and high) in Maryland; 2) each power dredge study zone consisted of no more than 600 acres of bottom; and 3) the bottom was currently not productive. Baseline information (i.e. physical characterization of bottom and biological/ecological data) is being collected and upon opening the area will be monitored for at least 5 years to determine if power dredging is beneficial, detrimental, or has no impact to oyster populations. The results of this study will be used to help determine whether additional areas should be opened to power dredging or if the Department should reconsider areas in which this gear is presently allowed.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Commercial License Targets Permanent December 23, 2011 January 13, 2012 None February 13, 2012 March 19, 2012

COMAR 08.02.01.05

The purpose of the proposed action is to modify the number of commercial fishing license authorization targets. Modifications to the authorization targets reflect the number of tidal fish license conversions and the number of licenses the Department purchased from license holders. The number and type of authorizations relinquished and those purchased by the Department provide the basis for changes to the license authorization target levels. Specific authorizations that had no conversions remain unchanged.

The tidal fish license conversions occurred during the 2010/2011 license renewal period and are correct as of May 22, 2011. There were 21 upgrades to an unlimited tidal fish license (TFL). The authorizations relinquished in order to upgrade to the TFL consisted of 6 resident fishing guide (FGR), 12 finfish-hook and line (HLI), 8 unlimited finfish harvester (FIN), 21 limited crab harvester (LCC), 1 clam harvester (CLM) and 15 oyster harvester (OYH).

The license buy backs occurred during the period December 4, 2010 through November 30, 2011. During that period the Department purchased 22 LCC, 9 crab harvester-300 pots (CB3) and 82 TFL authorizations from license holders.

The proposed action also creates a section for license buy backs. This section states that the target will be reduced for any authorization purchased back from a license holder by the Department.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Crabs — unfreeze LCC licenses Proposal Permanent December 23, 2011 January 13, 2012 2/2/11 at 6pm Tawes State Office Building, C-1, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 February 13, 2012 March 19, 2012

COMAR 08.02.03.14

The purpose of the action is to unfreeze limited crab catcher licenses (LCC) in accordance with the requirements in COMAR 08.02.03.14F. The 2011 Winter Dredge Survey estimated the Bay wide abundance of spawning-age crabs to be 254 million animals, making it the third consecutive year that the spawning component of the crab population has exceeded the interim target of 200 million crabs (223 million in 2009, 315 million in 2010 and 254 million in 2011). Restoring the eighty frozen LCCs to full active status would have negligible impact on annual harvest or on the health of the stock. Since 2009 when the licenses were frozen, two license buy back programs, one for TFL (unlimited tidal fish)/CB3 (300 crab pot) licenses the other for LCCs, have permanently removed 765 (683 LCC's and 82 TFL/CB3's) licenses from the pool of available licenses, and 452 latent LCC holders chose to have their licenses permanently limited to harvest only males. These additional actions have eliminated the potential use of 88,850 crab pots for mature female harvest. Returning the 80 frozen LCC's to active status would allow the potential of 4,000 pots or 0.5% of the 88,850 potential crab pots that have been removed or restricted to become active. This potential effort is negligible and does not impede conservation efforts. The license holders will be constrained by female bushel and season limits.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
PSFA Declassification Emergency & Permanent October 3, 2011 October 21, 2011 None November 21, 2011 Emergency Effective – October 10, 2011 – April 6, 2012 Permanent Effective - December 26, 2011

The purpose of the action is to incorporate by reference "Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries (August 2011)". This document contains coordinates for all public shellfish fishery areas (PSFA) in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

The Department received an application for a 19.4 acre submerged land lease in September of 2010. The proposed lease site is located within PSFA 119 which is located in the Patuxent River. Since a lease may not be located in a PSFA, the lease applicants petitioned the Department to declassify the proposed lease site portion of PSFA 119. COMAR 08.02.04.17 sets forth requirements for declassifying a PSFA. The application has undergone extensive resource review and the area was found to meet the established criteria. The biological survey conducted by the Department resulted in an average density of 0.43 oysters/m2, which indicates that the area is no longer viable for the commercial fishery. The proposed lease site will establish an aquaculture operation consistent with the Governor's Aquaculture Initiative. In addition, the operation will result in rehabilitated oyster bottom that can support oysters, another long term goal of the Department.

The proposed action amends coordinates for PSFA 119 to exclude the 19.4 acre submerged land lease area.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Inland Fisheries Permanent November 14, 2011 December 2, 2011 None January 3, 2012 Feburary 6, 2012

Add Boonsboro Pond in Washington County to the list of Trout Fishing Areas Limited to Fishing by Persons under 16 Years Old, 65 Years Old and Older, and Blind Persons. The pond was built in 2006 and is situated behind the Boonsboro Free Library on MD-Route 34. The pond is used for many children's events and the town of Boonsboro requested this regulation designation to serve children, seniors and blind citizens.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Felt Definition Permanent November 14, 2011 December 2, 2011 None January 3, 2012 Feburary 6, 2012

Defines what a felt is in order to clarify current ban for enforcement purposes. Felt will be defined to include all felt or felt-like materials.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Penalty Regulation Changes Permanent December 12, 2011 December 30, 2011 None January 30, 2012 March 5, 2012

The action would add one new point to the commercial point schedule under Tier III (15 points) for harvesting striped bass in a closed area. The action would add one new penalty to the 90 days suspensions under the recreational suspension regulation for possession of undersized hard crabs (6-10 per bushel). The action would add two new penalties to the 180 days suspensions under the recreational suspension regulation for possession of undersized nontidal fish (50-99% of creel limit) and possession of undersized hard crabs (11-15 per bushel). The action would add three new penalties to the 365 days suspensions under the recreational suspension regulation for possession of striped bass in a closed area, possession of undersized nontidal fish (100% or more over creel limit), and possession of undersized hard crabs (16 or more per bushel). Additionally, the action adds a three year suspension for individuals caught fishing on a suspended recreational license. The action also adds a penalty to the Tier III (15 points) of the Charter Boat and Fishing Guide penalty system for nontidal water minimum or maximum size limit violations. Additionally, we are making a number of housekeeping changes to correct different citations to the Maryland Code and COMAR, as well as mistakes in the three penalty systems.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters Emergency & Permanent October 17, 2011 November 4, 2011 None December 5, 2011 Emergency Effective - August 18, 2011 – February 14, 2012 Permanent Effective – January 9, 2012

Standardization of Bushel Containers and Oyster Tagging

The Department is proposing to add new regulations to bring Maryland in line with FDA requirements under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program's shellstock identification and traceability requirements. The regulation includes:

  • A list of containers that may be used (dimensions, construction, fill line, exemptions for lease holders and skipjacks)
  • Requirements for tagging containers
  • A definition of bushel
  • Record keeping requirements (shellfish buy tickets, tax certificates and reports, harvest reporting)
  • A definition of buying station and describes the only locations that oysters may be sold

Note: Permanent regulation corrects references that relate to skipjacks and clarify that tagging and container requirements apply only to commercial and leases.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Water Column Leasing Emergency & Permanent October 17, 2011 November 4, 2011 None December 5, 2011 Emergency Effective July 1, 2011 – December 29, 2011 Permanent Effective – January 9, 2012

The proposed action adds water column leases to regulation in accordance with HB1053/SB847. These cross-filed bills allow the Department to issue water column leases. The proposed action will correct existing leasing text to include water column leasing by the Department. There are a few minor changes from the emergency proposal that is currently effective. Changes are for clarification purposes and a reference to DHMH regulations for vibrio control measures is added.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters — Leasing in Sanctuaries Emergency and Permanent July 11, 2011 July 29, 2011 None September 29, 2011 Effective:
Emergency
7/20/11
Permanent
1/9/12

COMAR 08.02.04.15

The purpose of this action is to allow shellfish leasing in oyster sanctuaries except for historic oyster bars as defined by the Yates survey (1906 to 1912) as specified in House Bill 208 from the 2011 General Assembly Session. Prior to the passage of House Bill 208, the law prohibited leases from being within the boundaries of a sanctuary unless the leases were issued before the sanctuaries were designated. The 2010 regulations changed sanctuary areas to include a larger network of oyster sanctuaries. Aquaculture leasing in sanctuaries under specified conditions can be compatible to restoration by adding to localized water quality improvements, providing ecosystem functions through habitat creation, and potentially enhancing natural recruitment within the sanctuary if reproductive oysters are used for aquaculture. The action allows leasing in sanctuaries, prohibits leases from within 150 feet of an historic Yates bar in a sanctuary, and in order to mitigate stakeholder concerns regarding the potential for illegal harvesting in sanctuaries, establishes a limit of 10% on the amount of leased area allowed within a sanctuary.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Ramps & Maps

Not sure where Tidal and Non-Tidal regulations apply? Want to locate a Striped Bass Spawning area Map? Check here for a description of all the ramps and maps.