News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Proposes New Commercial Fishing Penalties

Proposal will enhance penalties on first time offenders

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 23, 2009) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service has proposed a new penalty system to deter natural resource violations, including commercial poaching. The new proposal will impose penalties on first time offenders, based on the severity of their crime, as well as repeat offenders.

“These valuable and fragile marine resources are part of the public trust. They belong to all citizens and we must protect them from those who would willfully break the law,” said DNR secretary John Griffin.

Current law requires several convictions to generate a suspension and suspension time is minimal. The 2009 General Assembly directed DNR to create a penalty system for a single violation and provide tougher penalties for repeat offenders.

“We believe the proposed increased penalties remain reasonable and will provide a greater deterrence to people thinking about breaking the law,” said Fisheries Service Director Tom O’Connell.

DNR has been working with the Penalty Workgroup, Tidal Fisheries and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commissioners and the Attorney General’s Office to create the new commercial penalty system.

The new enforcement system:
• assigns points to violations based upon the gravity of the offense;
• has increased penalties for repeat offenders and special protection for certain species; and
• includes provisions for automatic suspension for certain violations.

This proposal was submitted on Nov. 13, 2009 and will be in the Maryland Register on December 18, 2009.

The proposal is currently available on Fisheries Service’s Proposed Regulations Web page, at

Public comment will begin on December 18, 2009 and end on January 19, 2010. Public hearings will take place on January 7, 2010 at 6pm, at the Talbot County Library – Main Library, 100 West Dover Street Easton, Maryland 21601 and on January 13, 2010 at 6pm in C-1, Tawes State Office Bldg., 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401.

   November 23, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at