Changes to Fishing Regulations

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

Learn How to Get Involved with Fisheries Rulemaking.


 

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

BLUE CRAB — Sponge Crab Import
BLUE CRAB - Clarification
BLUELINE TILEFISH
CLAM — Hard and Soft
CLAM — Harvest in the Chester River
COBIA
COMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETS— 2017/2018
GEAR - Sharing Commercial Gear
GEAR - Stinger Hooks
HOOKS, BAIT, STRIPED BASS — May 16 through December 15
OYSTERS - Gardening
OYSTERS - Recreational Harvest
PUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS - #109​ and #110
PUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS - #80​ and #156
REPORTING - Charter Boats
SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - Housekeeping
SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product
STRIPED BASS - Commercial Fishery
STRIPED BASS - Recreational Fishery
STRIPED BASS - Housekeeping
STRIPED BASS - Susquehanna River
TROUT
YELLOW PERCH - Commercial
 

 

Thermometer GraphicBLUE CRAB - Sponge Crab Import
COMAR 08.02.03.08 and .14 

 

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


 

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Thermometer GraphicBLUE CRAB - Clarification

The department intends to clarify terminology in the trotline regulation.


 



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Thermometer GraphicBLUELINE TILEFISH

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


 

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Thermometer GraphicCLAM — Hard and Soft

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

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

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

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COBIA
COMAR 08.02.05.17 and COMAR 08.02.12.03

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

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Thermometer GraphicCOMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETS - 2017/2018
COMAR 08.02.01.05

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

 


 

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Thermometer GraphicFISHERY MANAGEMENT PLANS
COMAR 08.02.01.01

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


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


 

 

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Thermometer GraphicGEAR — Stinger Hooks
COMAR 08.02.25.01

The proposed action clarifies the definition of stinger hook.

 

 

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Thermometer GraphicHOOKS, BAIT, STRIPED BASS — May 16 through December 15

COMAR 08.02.05.02; COMAR 08.02.15.03, .09 and .10; and COMAR 08.02.25.01 and .03

The Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee has approved these regulations on a temporary basis through October 12.  We are also moving forward with our normal regulation process which would keep the regulations effective through 2019. 

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

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

 

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Thermometer GraphicJONAH CRABS
COMAR 08.02.08.06

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

 

 

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Thermometer GraphicLICENSE FREE FISHING AREAS
COMAR 08.02.01.07

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


 


 

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OUT OF STATE SUPPLIER REGISTRATIONThermometer Graphic
The department would like to establish a permit for an out-of-state fish supplier.

 

     


     


     

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

     

     


     

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


     

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    OYSTERS - Recreational Harvest

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

     

     

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


     

     

     

     
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    Thermometer GraphicPUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS — #109 and #110
    COMAR 08.02.04.17

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

     

     

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    Thermometer GraphicPUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS — #80 and #156

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

     

     

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    Thermometer GraphicREPORTING — Charter Boats
    The department plans to clarify who needs to submit the Commercial Charter Boat Captain’s Daily Log.

     

     

     
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    SEAFOOD MARKETING

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

     

     

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    Thermometer GraphicSHELLFISH AQUACULTURE

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

     

     

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    Thermometer GraphicSHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - Housekeeping
     
    The department would like to make two changes for clarification.
    1) Change the definition of SAV Protection Zone in regulation to match the language used in Natural Resources Article, §4-11A-01, Annotated Code of Maryland.
    2) The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has changed their name to the Department of Health.  We will be updating all references.




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



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    Thermometer GraphicSTRIPED BASS - Commercial Fishery
    COMAR 08.02.15.04 and .07


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


     

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    Thermometer GraphicSTRIPED BASS - Recreational Fishery
    COMAR 08.02.15.08 and .11

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

     

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    Thermometer GraphicSTRIPED BASS - Housekeeping


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

     


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

     


     

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    SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION
    Thermometer GraphicThe department intends to update the delineations of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Protection Zones.​


     

     
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    TAUTOG
    Thermometer Graphic

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

     

     
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    TROUT
    COMAR 08.02.11.01
    Thermometer Graphic

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

     

     
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    YELLOW PERCH - Commercial
    Thermometer Graphic
    The Commercial Yellow Perch Workgroup, consisting of members from both the Sport and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions asked the department to consider three modifications to the current commercial regulations.  They are as follows:
    1) The expansion of the commercial fishery to include the Choptank and Nanticoke Rivers.  
    2) Remove the provision in the current regulations that requires a department staff person to be present during the sale of yellow perch in the live market.
    3) Open the month of December for commercial harvest.
     

     
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