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.

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

BLUE CRABS - Clarification
CLAM — Hard and Soft
FISH REFUGES - Gumtree Cove
GEAR - Haul Seines
LICENSING - Boat Decals
OYSTERS - Divers and Attendants
OYSTERS - Gardening
OYSTERS - Recreational Harvest
OYSTERS - Shell Recycling Tax Credit
PENALTIES - 2017 and 2018 Changes
REPORTING - Charter Boats
SHARKS - Recreational Fishery
SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product
SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers
STRIPED BASS - Commercial Declaration of Intent
STRIPED BASS - Housekeeping
TILEFISH - Blueline and Golden 
YELLOW PERCH - Commercial

Thermometer Graphic BLACK DRUM

The purpose of this action is to reopen the commercial black drum fishery within the Chesapeake Bay at levels commensurate with other south Atlantic states. Currently, the commercial harvest of black drum is prohibited in the Chesapeake Bay which is the most conservative management among the south Atlantic states. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approved Addendum I to the Black Drum Interstate Fishery Management Plan which allows Maryland to reopen its black drum commercial fishery in the Chesapeake Bay. Reopening the commercial fishery is justifiable now because the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has classified the black drum stock as healthy and the limited Maryland harvest would have negligible impact on coastwide harvest.


Thermometer Graphic BLUE CRABS - Clarification
COMAR, .06, and .11

The purpose of this action is to make clarifications in regulatory text for blue crabs so that everyone understands what is intended by the regulations. Clarifying the text does not change the department’s interpretation or enforcement of these regulations.

  • Regulation .03 clarifies terminology in the trotline regulation. The term float is changed to buoy to clarify the language and to be consistent with other blue crab regulations that require marking of buoys.
  • Regulation .06 makes it clear that §B(2) only applies to recreational crabbing in the coastal bays of the Atlantic Ocean and their tributaries.
  • Regulation .11 clarifies that handlines, dip nets, and properly registered crab pots may be used at all times during the season.
  • A public hearing was held on January 29, 2019, at 2 p.m., at the Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Avenue, C-1 Conference Room, Annapolis, MD 21401. Interested persons were invited to attend and express their views.
  • View the Proposal 
  • Adopted as Proposed​ - Effective 3/25/19​


Thermometer Graphic CLAM — Hard and Soft

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


Thermometer Graphic FISH REFUGES — Gumtree Cove

The department would like to remove the designation of Gumtree Cove, located in Nanjemoy River, as a fish refuge. Removing the designation will increase fishing access and opportunities in Nanjemoy River. This idea is supported by the Black Bass Advisory Subcommittee.


Thermometer Graphic GEAR — Haul Seines

1) The department intends to establish notification procedures for commercially fishing with haul seines on the weekend.

2) Housekeeping Change — The department needs to remove an antiquated requirement that a haul seine first be sealed by the department prior to its use.


Thermometer Graphic LICENSING — Boat Decals

The department would like to authorize a boat owner to provide proof of purchase for a certain period of time to allow for a delay in shipping of fishing or crabbing boat decals. This change will be better for customers and help enforcement.



The purpose of this action is to establish a permit for an out-of-state finfish supplier. Currently, out-of-state suppliers are required to register annually with the Department. Once registered, the supplier is required to follow certain criteria. Establishing a permit in regulation will make expectations clear. The proposed action establishes the permit to ensure the health of Maryland’s wild stocks of fish. There is no cost for the permit and it is valid for the calendar year.


Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS

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.


Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Divers and Attendants

​The purpose of this action is to update regulations for commercial oyster divers and required attendants based on legislation. House Bill 1137, which addressed commercial oyster divers, was passed during the 2018 legislative session. The bill modifies Natural Resources Article, 4-1015.1, Annotated Code of Maryland and became effective October 1, 2018. This bill modifies the tidal fish license and oyster authorization requirements for persons aboard a boat who are using diving apparatus to catch oysters for commercial purposes from the waters of the State.


Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Gardening

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


Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Recreational Harvest

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


Thermometer Graphic OYSTERS - Shell Recycling Tax Credit — Housekeeping


The purpose of this action is to update the regulations for the tax credit a person may receive for recycling oyster shells. The law allows for a person to receive a State income tax credit for recycling oyster shells. Legislative changes require the department to update our regulations. The credit for recycling oyster shells is $5 per bushel up to a maximum of $1500 per year. 


COMAR, and

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries (September 2018). The proposed action: 1) removes aquaculture enterprise zones and references in regulation to the zones; 2) declassifies two public shellfish fishery areas (PSFA) to allow for aquaculture; 3) changes the boundary of one public shellfish fishery area that overlaps with a sanctuary; and 4) updates several public shellfish fishery areas that were inadvertently changed or omitted when the last update was completed in November 2016.


Thermometer Graphic PENALTIES - 2017 and 2018 Changes

The department intends to make annual changes to commercial, recreational and dealer penalties based on the recommendations of the joint penalty workgroup of the Sport Fisheries and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions. The annual penalty workgroup meetings were held June 15, 2017 and June 7, 2018.


Thermometer Graphic REPORTING — Charter Boats

The department plans to clarify who needs to submit the Commercial Charter Boat Captain's Daily Log.


Thermometer Graphic SHARKS

The department is considering two changes for recreational shark regulations.

  • 1) Remove the recreational possession limit for smoothhound sharks (smooth dogfish). The department would like to update the recreational smoothhound rules because both the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) allow recreational anglers an unlimited number of smoothhound sharks.

  • 2) Implement requirements for increasing a shark's chance of survival after release. The measures being considered are complimentary to federal Highly Migratory Species shark rules and would help shark populations, such as the dusky shark, rebuild. Please see the summary for specifics.


Thermometer Graphic SHEEPSHEAD

Recreational anglers have asked the department to consider changing the creel limit for sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus). The department is considering four options.



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


Thermometer Graphic SHELLFISH 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.


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).


Thermometer Graphic SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers

The department would like to put the seafood dealer requirements for following the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance into regulation.  The model ordinance requires that dealers must only accept product from a licensed harvester on the day of harvest.  It is not legal for seafood dealers to purchase oysters from unlicensed individuals.


Thermometer Graphic SNAKEHEAD

The department would like to remove the specific methods for killing a snakehead and simply requiring an individual to kill the snakehead upon capture. This would simplify the requirement for both enforcement and anglers.​



  • 1) Minor spelling errors were recently discovered so the department needs to change the scientific names of two species.
    • Black margate — from Anistotremus surinamensis to Anisotremus surinamensis

    • Smallmouth grunt — from Haemulon chrysargeryum to Haemulon chrysargyreum

  • 2) The department would like to add the ability to adjust size and possession limits by public notice so that Maryland may implement management measures of the National Marine Fisheries Service in a timely manner.


Thermometer Graphic STRIPED BASS — Commercial Declaration of Intent

The Striped Bass Industry Workgroup and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission would like the department to remove the appeal process for licensees who miss the striped bass permit registration deadline.


Thermometer Graphic STRIPED 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.



The department intends to update the delineations of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Protection Zones.​


Thermometer Graphic TILEFISH - Blueline and Golden

The department needs to make changes to the blueline and golden tilefish regulations so that the rules are consistent with federal rules.


Thermometer Graphic
YELLOW PERCH - Commercial

The purpose of this action is to remove the provision in the current regulations that requires a Department representative to be present during the sale of yellow perch in the live market. The Commercial Yellow Perch Workgroup, consisting of members from both the Sport and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions, asked the Department to consider this modification.