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 a title below to be taken to a regulation change.

AMERICAN EEL OPEN FOR COMMENT​
BLACK DRUM - Commercial Chesapeake Bay Fishery
BLACK DRUM - Commercial Atlantic Ocean Fishery OPEN FOR COMMENT​
BLACK SEA BASS - Commercial Gear OPEN FOR COMMENT​
BLUE CRABS - Clarification
CLAM — Hard and Soft
FISH REFUGES - Gumtree Cove
FISH REFUGES - Chicamuxen Creek OPEN FOR COMMENT​
GEAR - Finfish Trotlines OPEN FOR COMMENT​
GEAR - Gill Nets
GEAR - Haul Seines
LICENSING - Boat Decals
LICENSING - Charter Boat Decals - OPEN FOR COMMENT​
OUT OF STATE SUPPLIER PERMIT - Clarification OPEN FOR COMMENT​
OUT OF STATE SUPPLIER PERMIT - Establish Permit
OYSTERS - Gear Line Clarifications OPEN FOR COMMENT​
OYSTERS - Harvest Reserve Areas OPEN FOR COMMENT​
OYSTERS - Recreational and Commercial Rules
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 AQUACULTURE - Housekeeping
SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product
SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers
STRIPED BASS - Commercial Declaration of Intent
STRIPED BASS - Housekeeping
YELLOW PERCH - Clarification for Coordinates
YELLOW PERCH - Commercial



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AMERICAN EEL
COMAR 08.02.05.08

The proposed action removes the American Eel Harvest Permit, all reporting requirements for the permit, and penalties related to the permit. This action is supported by the industry and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

 
 
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BLACK DRUM - Commercial Chesapeake Bay Fishery
COMAR 08.02.05.15

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 a negligible impact on coastwide harvest.

 
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BLACK DRUM - Commercial Atlantic Ocean Fishery
COMAR 08.02.05.15

The department needs to correct the minimum size for the commercial black drum fishery in the Atlantic Ocean.

 
 
 
 
 
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BLACK SEA BASS - Commercial Gear
COMAR 08.02.05.21

Black sea bass traps or pots must contain a ghost panel affixed to the trap or pot with degradable fasteners and hinges. The opening to be covered by the ghost panel must measure at least 3 inches by 6 inches. The department needs to add the size of the opening to regulation.

 
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BLUE CRABS - Clarification
COMAR 08.02.03.03, .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
 
 
 
 
 
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CLAM — Hard and Soft

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

 
 
 
 
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COMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETS
COMAR 08.02.01.05

The department needs to modify commercial fishing license authorization targets. The proposed action makes modifications to the authorization targets to reflect the number of tidal fish license conversions.

 
 
 
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ENDANGERED/THREATENED/CONSERVATION

The department would like to remove outdated regulations to reflect current management practices. This is a housekeeping change, no substantive changes are being recommended.

 
 
 
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FISH REFUGES — Gumtree Cove

The purpose of this action is 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.

 
 
 
 
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FISH REFUGES — Chicamuxen Creek
COMAR 08.02.17.02

The department needs to correct the regulatory coordinates for the Chicamuxen Creek fish refuge.

 
 
 
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GEAR — Finfish Trotlines
COMAR 08.02.25.06

The purpose of this action is to update commercial finfish trotline regulations in response to legislation passed during the 2019 regular session. In 2019, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 7. The bill makes permanent the ability for the department to regulate and allow the use of finfish trotlines in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. The proposed action adds the new statute to the licensing requirements for the permit and removes the June 2019 sunset from regulation to match the new statute. This is a housekeeping change that continues current practice with finfish trotlines and ensures that licensees may continue to use the gear.

 
 
 
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GEAR — Gill Nets

Based on the passing of Senate Bill 7 during the 2019 Legislative Session, the department would like to allow the use of monofilament gill nets following all of the same rules currently in place for gill nets made of other materials.

 
 
 
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GEAR — Haul Seines
COMAR 08.02.05.02 and 08.02.25.08

The purpose of this action is to remove an antiquated requirement for sealing haul seines and establish the notification procedure for commercially fishing with haul seines on the weekend.

 
 
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LICENSING — Boat Decals
COMAR 08.02.01.07 and 08.02.03.09 and .15

The purpose of this action is 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.

  • View the Proposal
  • A public hearing was held on May 9, 2019, at 2 p.m., at the Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Avenue, C-1 Conference Room, Annapolis, MD 21401. No one attended the hearing.
  • Adopted as Proposed - Effective 7/1/19
 
 
 
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LICENSING — Charter Boat Decals
COMAR 08.02.01.07

The department needs to update rules based on 2019 legislation (HB349) that allows guides fishing in the tidal waters of Maryland who are licensed in accordance with Natural Resources Article, §§4-210 and 4-210.1, Annotated Code of Maryland to buy the charter boat license decal.

 
 
 
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NONTIDAL WATERS

Fishery Management Areas — The department would like to make it clear that a person may not add structures or modify land or vegetation in or on the waters of any fishery management area.
Trout Limits — The department would like to increase the possession limit to twice the daily creel limit for trout species in delayed harvest fishing areas, trophy trout fishing areas, and zero creel limit areas for brook trout.
Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Area — The department would like to clarify the description for the Fishing Creek put-and-take trout fishing area.
Striped Bass — The department would like to change the rules for keeping striped bass from nontidal impoundments.

 
 
 
 
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OUT OF STATE SUPPLIER PERMIT - Clarification
COMAR 08.02.01.16

The purpose of this action is to clarify the documentation requirements for out-of-state finfish suppliers. While the application for the permit describes what the required fish health testing documentation comprises, some suppliers are concerned because the regulation states that they shall "submit all fish health testing documentation." Some suppliers believe the wording of the regulation could result in legal liability for them if they do not provide every single document that they possess relating to fish health testing. The proposed action clarifies the requirement by changing the terminology of the regulation from “all” to “required” documentation. Making this change is beneficial for all parties involved.

 
 
 
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OUT OF STATE SUPPLIER PERMIT - Establish Permit
COMAR 08.02.01.16 and 08.02.14.10

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.

 
 
 
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OYSTER MANAGEMENT PLAN
COMAR 08.02.01.01

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference the Maryland Chesapeake Bay Oyster Management Plan (May 2019). The plan formally revises the oyster management framework in Maryland. The Department uses fishery management plans to guide actions taken to conserve and manage the species.

 
 
 
 
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OYSTERS - Gear Line Clarifications
COMAR 08.02.04.01, .08 and .12

The purpose of this action is to clarify where certain gears may be used to harvest oysters. The action does not make changes to current practice, but makes changes to regulations pertaining to areas open for harvesting with patent tongs, dredge boats, and power dredge to ensure that current practices are in line with the regulation. The action also clarifies where exceptions apply.

The changes in this proposal are based on Input from fishermen, Natural Resources Police officers, and department staff regarding overlapping or inaccurate gear lines in the oyster gear regulations.

 
 
 
 
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OYSTERS - Harvest Reserve Areas
COMAR 08.02.04.14

The purpose of this action is to clarify that a person may not harvest oysters in a harvest reserve area when it is not open. Since the intention is for the areas to be closed, planted with oyster seed and occasionally opened for harvest, this action specifically prohibits harvest in those areas unless they are specifically opened.

 
 
 
 
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OYSTERS - Recreational and Commercial Rules
08.02.04.02, .03, .06, .10 and .11

The purpose of this action is to update the regulations for the oyster fishery to implement the Maryland Chesapeake Bay Oyster Management Plan. The Maryland Chesapeake Bay Oyster Management Plan (oyster management plan) was recently developed to formally revise the oyster management framework in Maryland based on the results of the 2018 oyster stock assessment as well as changing conditions with oysters since the last plan was developed. The Department uses fishery management plans to guide actions taken to conserve and manage the species.

The proposed action removes specific restrictions from the regulations and adds the ability to establish and modify seasons, daily catch limits, days of the week, or times for catching oysters for recreational or commercial purposes by public notice. It also allows the Department to open or close oyster harvest areas for the harvesting or conservation of oysters by public notice. The proposed action requires certain parameters to be established by July 1 of each year. Removing the specific parameters from regulation and establishing them by public notice will allow individuals to be aware of and prepare for possible changes while conserving the resource. The proposed action clarifies areas in Regulation .10 that describe where an auxiliary yawl boat may be used to propel a dredge boat.

 
 
 
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OYSTERS - Divers and Attendants
COMAR 08.02.04.05

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.

 
 
 
 
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OYSTERS - Gardening

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

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

 
 
 
 
 
 


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OYSTERS - Shell Recycling Tax Credit — Housekeeping

COMAR 08.02.26.03

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.

 
 
 
 
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OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE — AEZs and PSFAs
COMAR 08.02.23.05, 08.02.04.17 and 08.02.23.03

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.

 
 
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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.

 
 
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REPORTING — Charter Boats
COMAR 08.02.13.06

The purpose of this action is to clarify who needs to submit the Commercial Charter Boat Captain's Daily Log. The proposed action does not require more reports; it clarifies who needs to complete them.

 
 
 
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SHARKS
COMAR 08.02.22.02 and .04

The purpose of this action is to remove the recreational possession limit for smoothhound sharks (smooth dogfish), establish recreational requirements for increasing a shark’s chance of survival after release, and correct the spelling of the scientific name for spiny dogfish. The requirements established by this proposal are complimentary to federal highly migratory species shark rules and would help shark populations, such as that of the dusky shark, rebuild. This action is being proposed in order to minimize potential injury to these protected and prohibited species.

 
 
 
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SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE

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

 
 
 
 
 
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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 its name to the Department of Health. We will be updating all references.
 
 
 
 
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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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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.

 
 
 
 
 
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SNAKEHEAD
COMAR 08.02.11.04 and 08.02.19.06

The purpose of this action is to remove the specific methods for killing a snakehead. Currently, regulation requires an individual who wants to keep a snakehead to kill it upon capture using one of the following methods: 1) remove the head, 2) gut the body, 3) remove the gill arches from both sides of the fish, or 4) fillet the fish. The Department has determined that there are other effective methods that can be used to kill a snakehead. The proposed action removes the specific methods and simply requires an individual to kill the snakehead upon capture. This action simplifies the requirement for both enforcement and anglers.

 
 
 
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SNAPPER GROUPER COMPLEX AND TILEFISH
COMAR 08.02.05.29 and .30

The purpose of this action is to update the regulations for the snapper grouper management group and tilefish. Specifically, the proposed action: 1) corrects minor spelling errors of scientific names; 2) updates the name for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division; 3) changes the catch limit for sheepshead to be the same as Virginia (4/person/day); 4) updates the public notice authority to maintain consistency with federal rules which will make it easier for everyone to know the rules; and 5) removes tilefish regulations from the snapper grouper complex and creates a new regulation for tilefish that requires an individual to follow federal tilefish management measures described in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 50 Section 648 (50 C.F.R. 648).

 
 
 
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STRIPED BASS — Commercial Declaration of Intent
COMAR 08.02.15.04

The purpose of this action is to remove the appeal process for a licensee who has not registered for a striped bass permit by the registration deadline. The Striped Bass Industry Workgroup and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission asked the Department to remove the appeal process. The industry believes strongly that it is not the role of advisory bodies to make licensing and permitting decisions. The proposed action removes the appeal process. By removing the appeal process any striped bass permits not renewed by September 15 will be relinquished to the Department for reissue.

 
 
 
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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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION

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

 
 
 
 
 
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YELLOW PERCH - Clarification for Coordinates

The department would like to clarify coordinates in the yellow perch chapter. A recent review of coordinates found three areas that need to be clarified. These are all housekeeping changes.

 
 
 
 
 
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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.

 
 
 
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