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 2013)

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

Spotted Seatrout

Proposed December 16, 2013 January 24, 2014 None February 24, 2014 March 31, 2014

COMAR 08.02.05.13

The purpose of this action is to make changes to the spotted sea trout fishery. These regulations will reduce the recreational creel limit from ten fish to four fish, will increase the commercial size limit from 12-inches to 14-inches, and will institute a 150 pound commercial catch limit per day or trip, whichever is longer.

During the 2013 Spotted Seatrout FMP review process, the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission (SFAC) requested MD DNR Fisheries Service to consider implementing a more conservative management strategy to support coastal conservation efforts and sustainable growth in Maryland's recreational and commercial Spotted Seatrout fisheries.

The purpose of increasing the commercial minimum size limit from 12-inches to 14-inches is that a 14-inch minimum size limit will allow a greater portion of fish an opportunity to spawn before they are harvested. If implemented, Maryland would have consistent size limits between its recreational and commercial fisheries as well as with Virginia which would facilitate enforcement and reduce confusion among fishermen. Maryland's Spotted Seatrout fishery is primarily in the lower Bay area, and fishermen often fish in both MD and VA waters during one trip.

Reducing the recreational daily creel limit from 10 to 4 fish is a harvest control measure to support conservation efforts by better ensuring that the expansion of this fishery occurs at a level that the resource can sustain and achieve a recreational fisheries preference expressed to MD DNR Fisheries Service by the SFAC.

Establishing a commercial daily individual daily or trip landing limit of 150 pounds is a harvest control measure to support conservation efforts by better ensuring that the expansion of this fishery occurs at a level that the resource can sustain and minimize discard mortality. If established, the MD DNR would review regularly with the objective of increasing and decreasing daily landing limit along with changes in abundance.

The proposed text will be posted after it appears in the Maryland Register

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

Bait Harvester

Proposed January 6, 2014 January 24, 2014 None February 24, 2014 March 31, 2014

COMAR 08.02.20.01 and .02

The purpose of this action is to add mole crabs and grass shrimp to the list of species that an individual may harvest for bait. The purpose of this chapter is to implement Natural Resources Article, §4-702, Annotated Code of Maryland. By adding these species to the list, an individual may purchase a permit to harvest them instead of having to wait for a commercial fishing license to become available. The proposed action establishes catch limits for mole crabs and grass shrimp and clarifies the bait harvester permit requirements, reporting requirements and penalties for not complying with the permit.

The proposed text will be posted after it appears in the Maryland Register

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 Shell Tax Credit

Emergency and Proposed

Emergency - December 16, 2013

Proposed - January 6, 2014
January 24, 2014 None February 24, 2014

Emergency - Pending AELR Approval

 Proposed - March 31, 2014

COMAR 08.02.26.01, .02, .03, .04, .05, .06

The purpose of this action is to promulgate regulations to implement House Bill 184 (2013), which established the creation of an oyster shell recycling credit. This action establishes eligibility criteria and provides for the certification of businesses, landfills, and nonprofit organizations to verify the amount of oyster shells recycled by each individual or corporation. For each bushel of oyster shell that is recycled, the shell recycler will receive a nonrefundable tax credit against the State income tax equal to $1.00, not to exceed $750 per tax return.

The intent of establishing a tax credit for recycling oyster shells is to provide a greater incentive for people and corporations to recycle their shells and increase the amount of shell available for replanting purposes. Recycled oyster shells are used as setting material for new spat (baby oysters) to be planted back into the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays. Each recycled shell can become home to 10 new oysters as new oysters prefer to attach and grow onto other oyster shells. A healthy oyster reef filters the Chesapeake Bay's waters and provides habitat for an underwater community that furnishes life support for blue crabs and fish. This action aims to incentivize recycling oyster shells by individuals and businesses in order to increase the availability of oyster shell for restoration purposes.

The proposed text will be posted after it appears in the Maryland Register

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

Penalties

Proposed

January 6, 2014

January 24, 2014 None February 24, 2014

March 31, 2014


COMAR 08.02.13.02, .03, .05, .07, .08

The purpose of this action is to make changes to the Department's penalty system for violations committed by commercial, recreational, and charter boat licensees. For the commercial system, this action adds language that will allow the Department to take mitigating circumstances into account when deciding on a penalty, decreases the penalty for failure to seal a haul seine, and adds penalties for menhaden violations, shark fin-to-carcass ratios, transportation of nuisance or prohibited species, possession of 10 or more nuisance or prohibited species, removes an unclear provision regarding pound net stakes, and corrects previous errors with the penalties regarding oystering in oyster sanctuaries and a reference to terrapin rather than snapping turtles. For the recreational and charter systems, this action adds penalties for violations of tagging and reporting requirements for sharks, transportation of nuisance or prohibited species, and possession of 10 or more nuisance or prohibited species. The proposed changes were made after consultation with the Joint Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission/Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission Penalty Workgroup.

The proposed text will be posted after it appears in the Maryland Register

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

Snapping Turtle

Proposed

December 23, 2013

January 10, 2014 None February 10, 2014

March 17, 2014


COMAR 08.02.06.01

The purpose of this action is to implement changes to the snapping turtle fishery. The action establishes a declaration period for the commercial snapping turtle permit. Having a set declaration period will reduce the staff time needed to manage the fishery because licensees may currently enter the fishery at any point in the year. In addition, the action will clarify recreational licensing requirements. Previously there has been confusion as to whether a recreational fisherman needed a license to take a snapping turtle. This action makes clear that a fishing license is required to take a snapping turtle in nontidal waters, but is not required in tidal waters. The reason for the difference in license requirements is that the enabling law for the tidal recreational fishing license, Natural Resource Article, §4-745, Annotated Code of Maryland, applies only to "finfish". As snapping turtles are not finfish, a tidal recreational fishing license is not required for recreational harvest. Conversely, the enabling law for the nontidal recreational fishing license, Natural Resources Article, §4-604, Annotated Code of Maryland, applies to "fish." Snapping turtles fall into the category of "fish", so a nontidal recreational fishing license is required for recreational harvest. Last, the regulation clarifies that commercial snapping turtle permits are valid for the listed month and provides a permittee the ability to request a hearing if a permit is denied or suspended.

The proposed text will be posted after it appears in the Maryland Register

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

Menhaden

Proposed January 6, 2014 January 24, 2014 None February 24, 2014 March 31, 2014

COMAR 08.02.05.13

The purpose of this action is to amend reporting requirements for the Atlantic menhaden in order to better manage the statewide quota as set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). ASMFC sets Maryland's quota for Atlantic menhaden and any amount Maryland harvests over the quota during the open fishery will be deducted from a future year. Current reporting requirements result in the Department receiving harvest data from menhaden harvesters anywhere from one to three months after the fish have been harvested. The lag in access to the data means that the Department must manage the Atlantic menhaden fishery very conservatively to ensure the quota is not exceeded. The new reporting requirement, which will have commercial licensees that harvest menhaden from pound nets reporting daily instead of monthly, will allow the Department to ensure that the full quota is harvested before the fishery is closed. The reasoning for only including pound netters in the daily reporting requirement is twofold. First, Department staff will have to train the pound netters on how to use the reporting system. Pound netters make up a very small portion of all commercial licensees, so training the pound netters by the time these regulations are effective is a much more attainable goal than training all commercial licensees. Second, while it would be ideal to have all harvesters reporting in this way, pound nets take roughly 90% of the menhaden caught in Maryland. By having that portion of the fishery reporting daily, the Department will have the data needed to maximize harvest with relation to the quota set by ASMFC.

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

Eel

Proposed December 9, 2013 December 27, 2013 None January 27, 2014 March 3, 2014

COMAR 08.02.05.08

The purpose of this action is to implement Addendum III to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan for American Eel, which was approved August 2013. Addendum III was approved with the goal of reducing mortality and increasing conservation of American eel stocks across all life stages, in response to the 2012 Benchmark Stock Assessment which found that the American eel population in U.S. waters is at or near historically low levels. The action raises the minimum size for eels from 6" to 9" for both commercial and recreational user groups. The action also removes the tolerance of 25 undersized eels for commercial harvesters and closes the season to eels for all gears but spears and baited pots and traps from September 1 to December 31. Finally, the action removes the allowance for eel pots with mesh smaller than ½" beginning January 1, 2017, as required by ASMFC.

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 – Shell Pricing

Emergency and Proposed December 9, 2013 December 27, 2013 None January 27, 2014

Emergency - Pending AELR Approval  Proposed - March 3, 2014


COMAR 08.02.04.11

The purpose of this action is to increase the price paid for oyster shells from $0.50 per bushel to $2.00 per bushel. The Department is required by regulation to annually asses the market price for shell, and to set the price paid to shucking houses based upon this assessment.

The Department paid $0.25 per bushel of shell for many years, and was able to buy nearly all shell produced from Maryland's shucking houses. In 2010, in recognition that the new lease law and growth in shellfish aquaculture would increase shell demand, the shell price was doubled to $0.50 per bushel. During the 2012/2013 oyster season, the Department was unable to purchase oyster shells at this price. Personal communications with officials in Virginia, Maryland shucking house owners, and leaseholders revealed that the price being paid to shucking houses by other parties ranged from $2.00 to $2.50 per bushel, making it unlikely that Maryland would have an opportunity to purchase shell at the currently approved price. Maryland must increase the price paid for shucking house shell in order to have access to this resource.

There is a substantial need for and shortage of oyster shell to support Maryland's oyster sanctuary restoration program, oyster hatchery production, aquaculture industry and public oyster fishery. Oyster shell needs are specific to the type of oyster shell. The needs for these activities are for 'fresh shell' (shucking house shell) rather than 'bottom hardening shell' (fossil oyster shell and alternative shell material such as clam shell and conch shell). Fresh shell is preferred for hatchery spat setting operations because it results in better spat sets than other shell materials. Bottom hardening shell is planted on an oyster bar or lease to enhance natural spat set by increasing the amount of hard bottom habitat, and/or to support hatchery seed plantings. Research has shown that the survival of hatchery seed oysters is positively correlated with the condition of the hard bottom substrate on which they are planted. While oyster larvae will set on almost any hard clean substrate, what works best in setting operations is a substrate that has a high surface to volume ratio and is not overly heavy. It should also be within some practical size range and not too brittle. Shucking house shell has all of these characteristics while other materials lack one or more of them.

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

Shark

Proposed December 9, 2013 December 27, 2013 None January 27, 2014

March 3, 2014


COMAR 08.02.12.03 and 08.02.22.02, .03 and .04

The purpose of this action is to update shark regulations. Since most sharks have slow growth rates, attain maturity at a late age, have long reproductive cycles, and low fecundity, they cannot withstand intense exploitation. These provisions are designed to ensure the conservation of shark resources by complying with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (HMS) and Addendum II to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks (ISFMP).

The proposed action updates the orders of shark to reflect all groups of sharks. Sharks were listed as in need of conservation in 1994. Groupings and orders have changed over time so the update is necessary. Species in the management unit were originally chosen for one or both of the following reasons: 1) they are frequently caught by the commercial and/or recreational fisherman; 2) their low fertility and/or slow growth make them particularly vulnerable to indiscriminate killing. The Department believes that all shark species are particularly vulnerable and, therefore, includes all species of sharks in their designation in need of conservation.

The proposed action updates the common name for smooth dogfish to smoothhound. Amendment 3 to the HMS consolidated sharks plan classified smooth dogfish as part of the 'smoothhound complex' which includes two species: smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis) and Florida smoothhound (Mustelis norrisi). NMFS has indicated that it chose the name smoothhound complex to minimize any confusion with spiny dogfish regulations. It notes that both smooth dogfish and Florida smoothhound are likely the same species and are the only members of the smoothhound family (Triakidae) found on the Atlantic coast.

For the recreational fishery, the proposed action updates the federal size and season restrictions. Amendment 5a to the HMS consolidated sharks plan changes the recreational minimum size for all hammerhead sharks to 78" (from 54") and the minimum size of finetooth and blacknose sharks to 54" (from no minimum).

For the commercial fishery, the proposed action updates the groupings of sharks to reflect the new federal groups. The action replaces the specific creel limits with a general statement that an individual may not have more than the federal permit allows. An individual is required to obtain a federal shark permit prior to harvesting sharks. All limits are determined by federal regulation. The action also adds the ability to remove dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins of smoothhound sharks outlined in the Shark Conservation Act (SCA) and ASMFC's Addendum II to the ISFMP for coastal sharks. The SCA of 2010 requires that coastal sharks are landed with fins and tail attached with an exemption for smoothhound sharks as long as the total weight of smoothhound shark fins landed or found on board a vessel does not exceed 12% of the total weight of smoothhound shark carcasses landed or found on board. The proposed action allows 8% fin to carcass ratio for the combined fin sets of the dorsal and pectoral fins, and 4% for caudal fins. The ratios are based on discussions with Maryland shark dealers and results of the 2013 North Carolina fin to carcass ratio study. This would allow for 12% if all three fin sets are separated from the smoothhound sharks. Fin set specifications match the intent of the SCA, reduce the likelihood of illegal finning becoming an issue, reduce concerns about finning activity, and provide consistency with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Addendum II to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Coastal Sharks. It also addresses the fact that local dealers do not keep the same set of fins and, therefore, will not allow for exploitation that could occur under a more general 12% ratio.

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

Spiny Dogfish

Proposed November 8, 2013 December 2, 2013 None January 2, 2014 February 2014

COMAR 08.02.05.24

The purpose of this action is to implement a limited entry spiny dogfish permit. Spiny dogfish were determined to be in need of conservation in 2001. Sound conservation and management measures prevent overfishing and achieve the optimum yield from each fishery. Adopting regulations relating to the taking, possession, transportation, sale or offer for sale, size limits and other regulations is necessary to conserve the fish in alignment with coastal criteria and recommendations.

In 2011, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries commission passed Addendum III to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Spiny Dogfish, dissolving the Southern Region (NY – VA) allocation established in Addendum II and setting state shares for New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. As a result of Addendum III, Maryland currently receives 5.92% of the coastal commercial Spiny Dogfish quota. As a result of these limitations on Maryland's harvest, the industry requested changes in commercial Spiny Dogfish management.

The proposed regulations are closely based on recommendations from the Spiny Dogfish Industry Workgroup, which met monthly from November 2012 – March 2013. The goals of the workgroup were to protect local, active fishermen and provide for a fishery from November through April each year, when spiny dogfish are present off Maryland. Specifically, the proposed action includes: a control date with qualifications to be part of the fishery; a declaration period for a licensee to declare their intent to fish; creation of a spiny dogfish landing permit to harvest more that 1000 pounds per vessel per day; use it or lose it provisions for the permit; transfer requirements; an allowance for operators to harvest a permittee's fish as long as the operator is in possession of the permittee's permit; catch limits; reporting requirements; and a penalty process.

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

Crabs

Proposed September 30, 2013 October 18, 2013 November 5, 2013 November 18, 2013 January 1, 2014

COMAR 08.02.03.03, .06, .07, .09, .10, .11, and .14

The proposed action amends Chesapeake Bay recreational crab regulations to improve the sustainability of blue crab and Diamondback terrapin (Maryland State reptile) resources. The proposed action is specific to Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, and does not apply to Maryland coastal bays.

Currently, the Maryland recreational crab harvest is estimated using a phone survey that calls a random group of individuals among Maryland's population to ask if they went recreationally crabbing. This survey technique requires a high and costly amount of phone calls to obtain accurate and precise harvest estimates. The current recreational license structure makes it difficult and expensive to gather harvest data that is needed for blue crab management because of license exemptions. The proposed action reduces the number of exemptions by requiring individuals that set crab pots from private shoreline property to obtain a free registration and decreases harvest impacts of unlicensed crabbers. The proposed action maintains license exemptions for individuals who want to handline or dipnet for crabs, but now requires a license for the use of collapsible traps, net rings or a seine.

The proposed action requires individuals that set crab pots from private shoreline property to obtain a free registration. Requiring a free registration for waterfront property owners will provide an improved sampling platform for determining the harvest of crabs from this sector of Maryland's recreational crabbers. Registering waterfront crab pots would also be of substantial benefit to the conservation of Diamondback terrapin by improving education on the importance of the required turtle saver devices and other regulations. The proposed action clarifies that guests may use a crab pot registered to a private shoreline property. The proposed action also clarifies where crab pots may be used recreationally by removing a prohibition for setting crab pots in some tributaries because some tributaries were inadvertently excluded due to float free channels.

The proposed action also standardizes the catch limit for an unlicensed recreational crabber whether crabbing from a boat or the shore. The objective of this action is to simplify recreational crabbing rules by making them more intuitive and consistent. This will facilitate public understanding and enforcement.

The proposed action clarifies the complimentary crabbing license. The action does not change the boat license or what is currently allowed, it clarifies the limits. An individual receives a complimentary crabbing license when they purchase a recreational crabbing boat license or a Chesapeake Bay sport fishing boat license. The rules have been confusing as to what is allowed under each license. The proposed action clarifies the rules and removes references to the Chesapeake Bay sport fishing boat license. The complimentary crabbing license issued to an individual with the Chesapeake Bay sport fishing boat license allows the individual to recreationally crab, it does not license the boat for crabbing activities. The complimentary crabbing license issued to an individual with the recreational crabbing boat license allows the individual to recreationally crab; it does not allow the individual an extra limit of crabs or gear while aboard the boat with the decal.

Finally, the proposed action clarifies setting and marking gear, commercial harvest with recreational gear, and regulation citations. The action clarifies that gear may not be set within 100 feet of another person's set gear. The current regulation is inconsistent and causes problems with enforcement. It clarifies that a commercial crabber may harvest crabs using recreational gear following the recreational limits.

A Hearing will be held to discuss the changes at 6 pm on 11/5/13 in the C-1 conference room of the Tawes State Office Building, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401.

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

Gear

Proposed September 30, 2013 October 18, 2013 None November 18, 2013 December 23, 2013

COMAR 08.02.05.01 and .02, 08.02.11.04, and 08.02.25.01 and .02

The purpose of this action is to clarify and consolidate rules pertaining to recreational fishing gear into one chapter of regulation. In 2011, the General Assembly passed House Bill 111, which required the Department to consult with the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission (TFAC) and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission (SFAC) to create regulations pertaining to recreational fishing gear and four commercial fishing gears. As required under this law, the Department considered relevant biological, ecological, and socioeconomic factors in creating the proposed action. The Department met with the TFAC and SFAC Gear Workgroup in May 2012 and scoped the proposed regulations in May 2013. The Department will be further discussing the commercial gears with the TFAC before proposing a commercial gear regulation to address fish pots, bank traps, fyke nets and hoop nets.

The proposed action creates a new chapter of regulation that defines fishing gears and restrictions pertaining to each classification of recreational fishing gear. The regulation creates five categories of gear: traps, non-active line fishing gear, active line fishing gear, nets, projectile gear, and hand gear. Gears are listed under each of these categories and restrictions are based on existing restrictions and/or biological, ecological or socioeconomic factors.

The proposed action creates new definitions for the following items: Bank pole, Bow and arrow, Bush-bob, Cast net, Crossbow, Gig, Hand, Handline, Jug, Landing net, Lure, Net, Noodling, Rod, Rod and reel, Snagging, Spear, Spear gun, and Trap. The following is a list of new rules relating to recreational fishing gear:

  • May only use the recreational gear allowed in the gear chapter and in the Maryland Code.
  • Now allow traps for recreational anglers to catch bait, so long as the trap is in front of the individual's property, within 100 yards of the shore or attached to an un-docked boat. The trap must also be marked with the individual's DNRid number.
  • Creates category of non-active line fishing gear. Jugs are now explicitly approved for recreational use, and the allowable use of recreational finfish trotlines has been expanded.
  • Seines may now be used by all recreational anglers, not just resident anglers.
  • New projectile gear rules:
    • Crossbows are now allowed.
    • Season on spears/spear guns has been removed
    • Added the following species to the explicit "no shoot" list (although they had all been prohibited from being shot in their respective species regulations):
      • American Lobster
      • Snapping Turtle
      • Sharks
      • Species listed as threatened or endangered
    • Removed the restriction that gigs may only be used by residents in nontidal waters
  • Added "Hand" and "Noodling" as explicitly allowed means of catching fish.

Additionally, changes are made in order to align regulations with proposed changes to the striped bass chapter. Commercial fishermen participating in the Chesapeake Bay individual transferrable quota fishery will no longer have crew limitations on vessels engaged in hook-and-line fishing. Previously, and still in the common pool fishery, such vessels were limited to two crew members and a maximum of four individuals on a vessel. By eliminating these restrictions, ITQ fishery participants will be able to maximize efficiency while engaged in the fishery by increasing the number of people on their boat, thereby lowering the length of time and the number of days they require to catch their allocation.

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 & Shellfish Aquaculture

Proposed September 30, 2013 October 18, 2013 None November 18, 2013 December 23, 2013

COMAR 08.02.04.04 and 08.02.23.04

The purpose of this action is to increase tagging flexibility. Beginning in 2011, the Department responded to new requirements from the Food and Drug Administration/National Shellfish Sanitation Program's shellstock identification and traceability mandate by implementing regulations requiring that bushels of oysters be tagged. By allowing some flexibility in tagging the Department is trying to prevent a tag shortage, conserve resources, prevent inconveniences to the watermen, and ensure that oystermen have an opportunity to fish. The proposed action is currently in place by emergency regulation; however, this action will remove the tagging and container requirements for shellfish aquaculture from the oyster chapter and place them into the more appropriate shellfish aquaculture and leasing chapter. This will clarify the chapters since the requirements are slightly different.

The proposed action allows all harvesters that are also certified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to utilize a dealer tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department-issued harvester tag. The proposed action also makes it clear that an individual must use a wild oyster tag to tag a container of wild oysters and a farm-raised tag to tag a container of farm-raised oysters. This was implied because the regulation only allows one type of tag on board, but the added statements make it clear.

For the wild oyster fishery, the proposed action allows harvesters to utilize a tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department issued harvester tag. The specifications for the information that must be included on the tag are specified in the proposal. Watermen may make their own tags with the specified information rather than obtaining tags from the Department. If a waterman prefers to get tags from the Department (license service center) there will be a charge (fee) for the tags and possibly a delay in receiving the tags due to unavailability of stock.

The reason for requesting the emergency action is because the tagging needs to be in place before the start of the season in October. Having the tagging rules effective in July gives the licensees the opportunity to learn about the requirements when they renew their license and then gives them time to order tags from the Department or have their own tags printed.

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

Striped Bass

Proposed September 30, 2013 October 18, 2013 October 24, 2013 November 18, 2013 January 1, 2014

COMAR 08.02.15.02, .04, .05, .07, and .12

The purpose of these regulations is to establish the fishing rules for the Chesapeake Bay's Commercial Striped Bass Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) and Common Pool (CP) fisheries. Each Chesapeake Bay commercial striped bass permit holder was required to select either the ITQ or CP fishery during the 2014 declaration period in August 2013. Based on the difference in the management approach of these fisheries, permit holders will be required to follow different rules depending on their selection of the ITQ or CP. There are, however, some rules that will apply to both fisheries that all permit holders (ITQ and CP) must follow.

Common Pool and ITQ

New rules and changes to rules that will affect all Chesapeake Bay commercial striped bass fisheries include flag requirements, new tagging requirements, and new season dates.

A flag provided by the Department will be required to be displayed while actively participating in either Chesapeake Bay commercial striped bass fishery. A flag identifies boats fishing commercially. The flags in this case will also identify the fishery (ITQ or CP) the permit holder has selected for 2014 which will aid the Natural Resource Police with enforcement efforts. Only one flag (either CP or ITQ) may be on board a vessel engaged in commercial fishing activity. This will reduce confusion with enforcement efforts of the different fishing rules between the ITQ and CP fisheries.

All striped bass will be required to be tagged with tags identifying the fishery in which the fish was harvested. Tags will be identified as either ITQ or CP and must be on board the vessel engaging in commercial fishing activity. Tags on board the vessel must match the flag being displayed which identifies the fishery in which the permittee is participating.

The new season dates will be January 1 – February 28 and June 1 – December 31. Currently there is a staggering of the start date between the pound net (June 1) and hook & line and haul seine (June 7) fisheries. This staggering is based on gear competition and marketing at the beginning of the fishing season in June. The flexibility of the new ITQ eliminates the derby style fishing and competition between gears making this staggering unnecessary.

ITQ Only

There will also be a number of new rules, or variations on the current rules, specific only to the ITQ fishery. Those permit holders who select the ITQ fishery will be fishing on an individual allocation and will not be competing with other permit holders for a shared resource. This is an important element of the ITQ fishery and is the reason why fishing rules differ from the CP. The different rules include different tagging requirements, extended fishing and check-in hours, the removal of certain vessel restrictions, a soft cap on the total allocation any individual permittee may possess, and a new set of penalties.

ITQ fishery participants will be required to tag their fish prior to landing, in contrast with current rules that require some fishermen to tag their fish immediately. This provision allows ITQ participants to maximize the time they spend fishing and limits disruption in fishing activity.

ITQ fishery participants will be permitted to fish using hook-and-line gear until sunset and check their fish in at a check station by 9am the following day regardless of gear type used to harvest the fish. These flexibilities are intended to maximize the economic benefit to the ITQ participant.

There will be no limit to the number of striped bass permit holders on board a vessel participating in the ITQ fishery, or the number of mates or other individuals allowed on a vessel. As previously stated, an ITQ eliminates the competition for a shared resource.

Allocation transfers are allowed in the ITQ fishery. A soft allocation cap of 1% per individual permit holder will be established in order to limit the potential monopolization of the resource by any one person. The soft cap will prevent an individual from obtaining an allocation transfer if they already have 1% or more of the total commercial allocation. A soft cap allows an individual to acquire more than 1% of the overall quota so long as the individual had less than 1% prior to the transaction. However, the transfer transaction that exceeds the 1% ceiling will be the last transaction of the year for that particular permit holder.

Because of the nature of the ITQ fishery – namely, that a participant can catch their entire allocation on any one day of the open season – the current penalty system is not effective for the ITQ fishery. On the advice of the Striped Bass Workgroup, working in conjunction with the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, a participant in the ITQ fishery who accumulates 10 points, as determined by the schedule found at COMAR 08.02.15.03, for striped bass-specific offenses will be suspended for a full quota year.

Common Pool Only

There will also be rule changes specific to the CP fishery. The CP fishery will operate similarly to the current derby style fishing practices in the gill net and hook and line fisheries. Participants in the CP fishery will compete with one another for a shared resource. In order to manage the CP quota, it will be necessary for the Department to establish catch limits and open and close the CP fishery based on quota availability by month. Changes to the CP fishery from current practices include individual catch limits (rather than catch limits per permit), the elimination of the 50-pound tolerance per permit, and a change to the temporary transfer process.

Catch limits will be set based on the allowable catch per individual participant or vessel in the CP fishery. Currently, limits are set per permit and allow fishermen to hold multiple permits and catch multiple limits. This provision will aid in the Department's ability to estimate fishing effort, project daily landings and more confidently manage the CP quota.

There will no longer be a 50 pound tolerance per permit over the daily catch limit in the CP fishery in addition to catch limits no longer being set per permit. Removing the overage tolerance will aid in the Department's ability to estimate fishing effort, project daily landings and more confidently manage the CP quota.

An expiration date will be included for CP permits that are transferred prior to and during the fishing season. Transfers of CP permits are only allowed during March of each year. This provision allows the permit to be used by more than one individual during the year and allows the owner of the permit to better manage their needs.

Quota Management

There will also be a new method of dealing with overages in the commercial striped bass fishery. In the ITQ, if an individual exceeds their allocation, that overage will be subtracted from a future year's allocation on a pound-for-pound basis. In the CP fishery, any overage by the group of participants will be aggregated and divided equally among all registered participants who actually reported catch in the fishery. In the next practicable year, each of the participants will receive a deduction in their allocation by that amount.

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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

Leasing in St. Mary's Oyster Sanctuary

Proposed September 30, 2013 October 18, 2013 None November 18, 2013 December 23, 2013

COMAR 08.02.04.15

The purpose of this action is to add criteria for leasing in the St. Mary's Sanctuary. Revisions to the lease law allowed leasing in sanctuaries that is compatible with oyster restoration. Specific rules put in place to ensure restoration compatibility included that leases shall not occur on or within 150 feet of historic Yates oyster bars and that the total acreage of leased area shall not exceed 10% of the total sanctuary area.

The St. Mary's sanctuary is unique in that substantial areas outside the Yates bars have a high density of oysters. For this reason, the Department is seeking to establish criteria by regulation to ensure that leasing is compatible with oyster restoration in the St. Mary's River sanctuary.

The action establishes an oyster density criteria based on the Chesapeake Bay Program Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team guidelines for a restored area of 15 oysters / m2. This is the minimum density considered to be a restored oyster bar. The oyster density would be calculated as the average density within a prospective lease based on multiple samples within the prospective lease area. If the average oyster density in the applied area is at or above 15 oysters / m2 the lease application will not be approved. This criterion would be in addition to existing regulations including no more than 10 percent of a total sanctuary area may be leased and leases may not be on Yates bars. The combined criteria will ensure that areas that are not considered restored may have their oyster densities increased through aquaculture. The action will also cap the maximum leasable area of restorable bottom at 25%. A side scan sonar survey was completed of the sanctuary by the Maryland Geological Survey in 2012. The survey was used to determine whether the bottom substrate conditions were suitable for oyster restoration and/or natural recolonization. This action also corrects a COMAR citation.

Eleven complete submerged land lease applications totaling approximately 90 acres were filed between August and December 2011 for the St. Mary's River sanctuary.

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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

Fishing in Nontidal Waters

Proposed September 30, 2013 October 18, 2013 None November 18, 2013 January 1, 2014

COMAR 08.02.11.01

The purpose of this action is to update and clarify certain trout fishing and management areas. The proposed action changes the upper boundary of the Put-and-Take/Catch-and-Return area on Owens Creek from Raven Rock Road to Buck Lantz Road. The change is necessary because stocking on Owens Creek extends to Buck Lantz Road.

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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

Shellfish Aquaculture - Nursery Permits

Emergency and Proposed August 26, 2013 September 20, 2013 None October 20, 2013 9/23/2013-3/22/2014

08.02.23.08

The purpose of this action is to implement House Bill 306 to allow individuals to grow shellfish seed outside of a leased area when issued a Shellfish Nursery Permit by the Department. These nurseries may be located on shore or in State waters. This regulation implements the restrictions pertaining to in-water structures used in shellfish nurseries, as delineated in HB 306, as well as additional restrictions the Department believes are necessary for health and safety purposes. This action also sets the application fee for these permits at $100. The Aquaculture Coordinating Council recommended a fee of $100 or less. Finally, the action establishes reporting requirements and the penalties for failure to comply with the regulations.

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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

Spiny Dogfish

Emergency     None   8/27/13 through 2/23/14

08.02.05.24

Spiny dogfish were determined to be in need of conservation in 2001. Sound conservation and management measures prevent overfishing and achieve the optimum yield from each fishery. Adopting regulations relating to the taking, possession, transportation, sale or offer for sale, size limits and other regulations is necessary to conserve the fish in alignment with coastal criteria and recommendations.

In 2011, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries commission passed Addendum III to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Spiny Dogfish, dissolving the Southern Region (NY – VA) allocation established in Addendum II and setting state shares for New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. As a result of Addendum III, Maryland currently receives 5.92% of the coastal commercial Spiny Dogfish quota. As a result of these limitations on Maryland's harvest, the industry requested changes in commercial Spiny Dogfish management.

The Department is proposing regulations to implement a limited entry spiny dogfish permit. The regulations are closely based on recommendations from the Spiny Dogfish Industry Workgroup, which met monthly from November 2012 – March 2013. The goals of the workgroup were to protect local, active fishermen and provide for a fishery from November through April each year, when spiny dogfish are present off Maryland.

Specifically, the proposed action includes: a control date with qualifications to be part of the fishery; a declaration period for a licensee to declare their intent to fish; creation of a spiny dogfish landing permit to harvest more than 1000 pounds per vessel per day; use it or lose it provisions for the permit; transfer requirements; an allowance for operators to harvest a permittee's fish as long as the operator is in possession of the permittee's permit; and catch limits.

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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

SAV Protection Zones

Proposed August 19, 2013 September 6, 2013 None October 7, 2013 November 11, 2013

08.02.01.12

The purpose of this action is to delineate submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) protection zones. The SAV protection zones are delineated by the Department for the protection from uprooting and the restoration of SAV. Using a hydraulic clam dredge, a bottom dredge, or a shinnecock rake in a SAV protection zone is prohibited.

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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

Asian Horseshoe Crabs

Proposed August 5, 2013 August 23, 2013 None September 23, 2013 October 28, 2013

08.02.19.04 and .06

The purpose of this action is to add species to the restricted lists of aquatic nuisance species. The action adds three species of Asian horseshoe crabs (Tachypleus tridentatus, Tachypleus gigas, and Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) to the list of species that may not be imported, transported, purchased, propagated, possessed, sold, or released into State waters. This action will prohibit these species from being imported into the State to be used as bait; decreasing the likelihood that the species will carry pathogens into the State.

In 2011, approximately 2,000 T. gigas were imported into New York state. In 2012, there have been reports of at least 7,400 kg of varying species of Asian horseshoe crabs continuing to be imported into New York. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has grown concerned about the dangers these importations may cause and has advised the Atlantic coastal states to prohibit their importation. Its concern about the species is that the crabs may carry pathogens and other nuisance organisms which pose a potential threat to marine resources and to human health.

Native horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus), which have experienced population declines, are put in further danger by the transportation of pathogens such as parasitic flatworms, which can easily survive even in a dead host crab. The parasite's spread to native horseshoe crabs will not only harm the horseshoe crab population, but also several migratory shorebirds, such as red knots, which depend on horseshoe crab eggs for food. The red knot is a Candidate Species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and thus steps have been taken to protect the North American horseshoe crab as one of their critical food sources. There has not yet been any confirmation on what, if any, species have been transported into the U.S. by the host horseshoe crabs, as previous attempts at testing samples have been unsuccessful.

Further, one species of Asian horseshoe crab (C. rotundicauda), is known to contain a powerful neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX), which may pose harm to human health. C. rotundicauda has been identified as being imported into the U.S., and is often used as bait for catching whelk and eels. It could potentially be consumed by humans either by consuming C. rotundicauda directly (sold in Asian markets in New York City), or by consuming whelks or eels which are caught with C. rotundicauda as bait.

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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

Oyster Tags

Emergency None None Effective 7/19/13 through 1/15/14

08.02.04.04

The purpose of this action is to increase tagging flexibility.  Beginning in 2011, the Department responded to new requirements from the Food and Drug Administration/National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s shellstock identification and traceability mandate by implementing regulations requiring that bushels of oysters be tagged.  By allowing some flexibility in tagging the Department is trying to prevent a tag shortage, conserve resources, prevent inconveniences to the watermen, and ensure that oystermen have an opportunity to fish.

The proposed action allows all harvesters that are also certified by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to utilize a dealer tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department-issued harvester tag.  The proposed action also makes it clear that an individual must use a wild oyster tag to tag a container of wild oysters and a farm raised tag to tag a container of farm raised oysters.  This was implied because the regulation only allows one type of tag on board, but the added statements make it clear.

For the wild oyster fishery, the proposed action allows harvesters to utilize a tag that meets the requirements stipulated in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance in lieu of a Department issued harvester tag.  The specifications for the information that must be included on the tag are specified in the proposal.  Watermen may make their own tags with the specified information rather than obtaining tags from the Department.  If a waterman prefers to get tags from the Department (license service center) there will be a charge (fee) for the tags and possibly a delay in receiving the tags due to unavailability of stock.

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

Gear

Emergency None None Effective 7/1/13 through 12/27/13

08.02.05.01 and .02, 08.02.11.04, and 08.02.25.01 and .02

The purpose of this action is to clarify and consolidate rules pertaining to recreational fishing gear into one chapter of regulation. In 2011, the General Assembly passed House Bill 111, which required the Department to consult with the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission (TFAC) and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission (SFAC) to create regulations pertaining to recreational fishing gear and four commercial fishing gears. As required under this law, the Department considered relevant biological, ecological, and socioeconomic factors in creating the proposed action. The Department met with the TFAC and SFAC Gear Workgroup in May 2012 and scoped the proposed regulations in May 2013. The Department will be further discussing the commercial gears with the TFAC before proposing a commercial gear regulation to address fish pots, bank traps, fyke nets and hoop nets.

The action creates a new chapter of regulation that defines fishing gears and restrictions pertaining to each classification of recreational fishing gear. The regulation creates five categories of gear: traps, non-active line fishing gear, active line fishing gear, nets, projectile gear, and hand gear. Gears are listed under each of these categories and restrictions are based on existing restrictions and/or biological, ecological or socioeconomic factors.

The action creates new definitions for the following items: Bank pole, Bow and arrow, Bush-bob, Cast net, Crossbow, Gig, Hand, Handline, Jug, Landing net, Lure, Net, Noodling, Rod, Rod and reel, Snagging, Spear, Spear gun, and Trap. The following is a list of new rules relating to recreational fishing gear:

  • May only use the recreational gear allowed in the gear chapter and in the Maryland Code.
  • Now allow traps for recreational anglers to catch bait, so long as the trap is in front of the individual's property, within 100 yards of the shore or attached to an un-docked boat. The trap must also be marked with the individual's DNRid number.
  • Creates category of non-active line fishing gear. Jugs are now explicitly approved for recreational use, and the allowable use of recreational finfish trotlines has been expanded.
  • Seines may now be used by all recreational anglers, not just resident anglers.
  • New projectile gear rules:
    • Crossbows are now allowed.
    • Season on spears/spear guns has been removed
    • Added the following species to the explicit "no shoot" list (although they had all been prohibited from being shot in their respective species regulations):
      • American lobster
      • Snapping turtle
      • Sharks
      • Species listed as threatened or endangered
    • Removed the restriction that gigs may only be used by residents in nontidal waters
  • Added "Hand" and "Noodling" as explicitly allowed means of catching fish.

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

Menhaden

Emergency and Proposed None June 17, 2013

08.02.05.07 and 08.02.12.03

The purpose of this action is to establish regulations for Atlantic menhaden. Menhaden have been found to be In Need of Conservation, and are being listed as such. The action also establishes a quota, season, license requirements, a bycatch allowance landing permit, a declaration period for the fishery, catch limits, and reporting requirements. The action also allows for the modification of catch limits, quotas, and seasons by public notice.

The Atlantic menhaden fishery is managed cooperatively under the provisions of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Menhaden developed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Amendment 2 to the Plan was approved in December 2012, establishing a total allowable catch (TAC) for the fishery that resulted in a 20% reduction from the average landings from 2009-2011. New biological reference points were also adopted for biomass with the goal of increasing abundance, spawning stock biomass, and menhaden availability as a forage species. The Amendment also included provisions for the transfer of quota between states and a bycatch allowance of 6,000 pounds for non-directed fisheries that are operating after a state TAC has been landed. In Maryland, this will allow the continued use of pound nets even after the state TAC has been landed. The Amendment also establishes requirements for reporting and improved biological monitoring.

This action will keep Maryland in compliance with the ASMFC FMP for Atlantic menhaden.

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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

Commercial Striped Bass

Proposed April 24, 2013 May 31, 2013 June 6, 2013 July 1, 2013 August 5, 2013

08.02.15.02, .04, .05, .07 and .12

The proposed action proposes compliance with new Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) requirements coupled with industry goals and objectives for flexibility. In 2011, the striped bass fishery was experiencing shortened seasons, reduced catch limits, and persistent difficulties assigning the commercial quota to the different gear sectors. At the same time, the Department learned that changes would be required in the commercial striped bass fishery in order to comply with new ASMFC requirements. ASMFC is requiring that all Atlantic states use a biological metric to determine how many tags are issued to commercial fishermen and account for every tag in their commercial fishery. Maryland's commercial striped bass tags are currently issued by request and as needed, which means that our system is out of compliance with the new tagging requirements set by ASMFC.

In order to address the problems in the fishery and the new tag requirements, the Department initiated discussions about alternative management of the striped bass fishery with the Striped Bass Industry Work Group in November 2011. We met with the work group and a subcommittee of the work group eight times before developing several possible alternative management options. These options included a modification of the current management system and several versions of an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system. The options were brought to the public through four open houses held in September of 2012. Based on the public comments and the ability of each option to meet the goals of the fishery, the Department selected an ITQ option in October of 2012. The Department continued to meet with the work group five more times to develop the details of the ITQ system before drafting the proposed action. The proposed action proposes compliance with the new ASMFC requirements coupled with industry goals and objectives for flexibility.

An ITQ system provides exclusive privileges to an individual by assigning a fixed share of the commercial striped bass quota to each fisherman. This system provides a mechanism to allocate tags to the fisherman in a quantity that corresponds to their allocation and allows increased flexibility for participants. Participants are no longer restricted to certain fishing days, gears, or daily catch limits. Some industry members prefer to maintain the option for the traditional derby style fishery (common pool) even though it provides less flexibility. Therefore, the proposed action provides commercial striped bass fishermen with a choice of participating in the common pool or ITQ fishery. To establish compliance with ASMFC in the common pool fishery, the Department will reduce the number of tags sent to each permit holder and issue replacement tags only to fishermen that have depleted a majority of their initial tag allowance and only if additional tags are available based on the biological metric calculation.

The proposed action makes certain modifications to the registration process in order to implement the dual common pool and ITQ fisheries. The registration period will remain during the month of August. But at the time of registration, an individual must register their permit(s) into either the common pool or an ITQ fishery. In order to be eligible to receive a striped bass quota allocation, a control date of May 10, 2013 is established in the proposal. A license holder must have in their possession a striped bass permit by this date in order for their catch history to be used in the calculations of shares.

The proposed action establishes an allocation process for the Chesapeake Bay commercial quota. All gill net and hook and line (GN/HL) permits will be initially allocated an equal share of the GN/HL quota. The equal share will be 25% of the Maryland striped bass quota and is roughly equivalent to 300 pounds (based on the 2013 quota). The remaining 75% of the quota will be allocated based on striped bass catch history from January 1st, 2001 through February 29th, 2012. Historical allocations will be calculated based on the average catch history during years a permit holder was eligible to harvest striped bass. A percentage of the overall historical harvest each permit has represented over time per gear type will be calculated and a historical share will be assigned to that permit.

Pound net (PN) and haul seine (HS) permits have been historically allocated poundage based on equal allocation of their portion of the Chesapeake Bay quota. These regulations do not alter the allocation method that has been historically used in the PN and HS fisheries. The proposal does remove the pound net certification process because it is not necessary in an ITQ fishery.

The proposed action modifies the transfer provisions for a Chesapeake Bay striped bass permit or allocation. For a person registered in the ITQ fishery, temporary (annual) transfers of allocation (pounds) or permits will be provided for during a pre-season transfer period of August - September. The transfer may include a portion or percent of a person's allocation, but there is a maximum of 4 allocation transactions during the preseason. During the season, a person may transfer their permit and remaining allocation to another tidal fish licensee. The permit and allocation may be separated; however, all of the remaining allocation must be transferred in one transaction. The allocation cannot be divided up for multiple recipients during the season. Temporary transfers in the common pool may be completed as normal during the two transfer periods in August and March.

For the Atlantic fishery, the time period for temporary transfers is extended to September 30th, and in season temporary transfers of permits are also permitted as long as all remaining allocation is transferred with the permit.

Permanent transfers of Chesapeake Bay permits or shares will not be permitted with the exception of a beneficiary transfer recipient or if accompanied by a tidal fish license. The limited beneficiary transfers and transfers with a license provide an opportunity for a person or estate to sell their fishing business. Restricting the permanent accumulation of permits or shares will prevent one fisherman from potentially monopolizing the fishery. The temporary transfer system may give some information as to the potential of accumulation that may occur if a permanent transfer system is in place in the future.

Future regulatory actions may provide for permanent transfers of the Chesapeake Bay permits and individual shares of quota, as well as other modifications dependent on industry input and implementation of these regulatory actions.

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There will be a Public Hearing on the Proposed Regulations for Commercial Striped Bass, June 6, 2013 at 6pm at Friends Meeting House, 351 DuBois Road, Annapolis MD 21401. Click Here for more details.

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

Proposed April 15, 2013 May 3, 2013 None June 3, 2013 July 8, 2013

08.02.23.02, .03 and .04

The purpose of this action is to amend current aquaculture lease regulations. The Department has been working with the Aquaculture Coordinating Council to determine requirements that will allow the industry to remain competitive and increase profitability while protecting the wild oyster resource. Emergency regulations have been in effect since September 2012, which allow leaseholders to harvest oysters that are a minimum of 2 inches for sale while the public fishery is closed, create a one inch maximum seed size limit, allow a 5% tolerance limit (same as commercially harvested oysters), add an application fee for water column leases of $300 (same as submerged land leases), and add an annual rent of $25 per acre for all water column leases. The proposed action incorporates all of the emergency provisions and increases the ability to sell 2 inch oysters year round from a water column lease.

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 establishes 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. These fees will ensure that all water column lessees are paying the same amount for rent.

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 action establishes a maximum seed size, for cultured oysters, of 1 inch. The action allows the year round sale of oysters harvested from a water column lease that are a minimum of 2 inches. Leaseholders with submerged land leases will only be authorized to sell oysters that are a minimum of 2 inches while the public oyster fishery is closed, April 1-September 30. During the season, oysters from a submerged land lease must be a minimum of 3 inches.

Currently, a 5% tolerance limit exists for the possession of undersized oysters when harvesting from public grounds. However, a similar tolerance limit for possession of undersized farm-raised oysters harvested from leases does not exist. It is extremely difficult for growers to maintain this level of accuracy during harvest activities. The proposed action establishes a 5% tolerance limit for undersized oysters harvested from leases, similar to the limit that exists for the public fishery. This action resolves an inconsistency between the public and private fishery.

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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

Horseshoe Crabs

Proposed April 15, 2013 May 3, 2013 None June 3, 2013 August 5, 2013

08.02.10.01

The purpose of this action is to update the horseshoe crab regulations. Specifically the proposed action removes the current regulatory language regarding the specific quota, seasons and some catch limits for the horseshoe crab fishery and changes the language to say that the limits will be established by public notice in order to implement the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) fishery management plan. Currently, the Department issues a public notice after the management decision has been approved and then submits both emergency and proposed regulations with the limits specified in the public notice. There is a time period when the restrictions in the regulation and public notice are different and it can be confusing (regulation says one thing and the public notice something different). Removing the language from the regulation will make it clear where to find the information. Currently, the Department regulates other fisheries in a similar manner, such as striped bass, which has led to less confusion amongst regulated individuals. The proposed action also adds a prohibition on harvesting females based on a requirement from the ASMFC fishery management plan.

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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

Summer Flounder and Black Sea Bass

Proposed March 19, 2013 April 19, 2013 None May 20, 2013 August 5, 2013

08.02.05.12 and .21

The purpose of the proposed action is to remove the current regulatory language regarding the specific minimum size, creel limit and season for the summer flounder and black sea bass recreational fisheries and change the language to say that the recreational limits will be established by public notice in order to implement the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's fishery management plans. Currently, the Department issues a public notice after the management decision has been approved and then submits both emergency and proposed regulations with the limits specified in the public notice. There is a time period when the restrictions in the regulation and public notice are different and it can be confusing (regulation says one thing and the public notice something different). Removing the size, creel and season language from the regulation will make it clear where to find the information. While the public notice is the legal mechanism for making this change the action will clarify the rule change by making the regulation clear that the regulatory provisions are set in the public notice. Currently, the Department regulates other fisheries in a similar manner, such as striped bass, which has led to less confusion amongst regulated individuals.

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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

Recreational Sharks

Proposed March 4, 2013 March 22, 2013 None April 22, 2013 May 27, 2013

08.02.22.02 and .04

The purpose of this action is to add shark species to the recreational catch card reporting program. Currently, bluefin tuna, swordfish, and billfishes are required to be reported through this program. The addition of sharks is an effort to: 1) validate recreational estimates of shark harvest in Maryland, and 2) collect biological data such as length and weight to supplement stock assessments. Both of these kinds of data are lacking, and Maryland will be the first state to implement a census of recreational shark harvest. The Department will educate shark fishermen about the reporting requirement and location of reporting stations through social media, tournaments, tackle shops, fishing areas, and current permit holders.

The proposed action also updates the public notice provision to include the reasons for making changes to the fishery by public notice. Sharks are managed interjurisdictionally, in cooperation with federal agencies, state agencies and advisory bodies. 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.

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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

Penalties – Annual Adjustments

Proposed January 7, 2013 February 8, 2013 None March 11, 2013 April 15, 2013

08.02.13.01, .02, .03, .05, .08

The purpose of this action is to make adjustments to the recreational, commercial, and charter boat/fishing guide penalty systems. The action adds penalties for fishing in a blind/youth restricted area and increases penalties for possessing undersized hard crabs to the recreational fishing penalty system. The action increases tiers for oyster sanctuary violations, adds additional tiers for undersized hard crabs, differentiates misdemeanor and felony Lacey Act violations, and adds penalties for gill net reels, unmarked gill net corks, river herring possession, aquaculture violations, and untagged oyster containers to the commercial fishing penalty system. The action also adds penalties for undersized hard crabs to the charter boat/fishing guide penalty system. The action makes general text corrections and clarifications.

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

Pound Nets

Proposed January 7, 2013 January 25, 2013 None February 25, 2013 April 1, 2013

08.02.05.02 and 08.02.15.07

The purpose of this action is to acquire data that will allow the Department to determine the fishing effort within the pound net fishery and to minimize any potential adverse effects of pound nets on spawning striped bass.

The first action is to require pound net fishermen to notify the Department prior to setting a net and after taking a net down. Currently, the Department does not collect data regarding the number of registered pound net sites that are actively being fished. Without these data, the Department is unable to determine the actual effort put forth by the pound net fishery. By requiring pound net fishermen to notify the Department when a pound net is set and when it is taken down, the Department will have real-time information with regards to the number of pound nets actively being fished.

The second action is to require pound net fishermen to fish their pound nets more frequently during the striped bass spawning period and to release any entrapped striped bass. By requiring pound net fishermen to fish their nets more frequently and release the entrapped striped bass, any potential impacts of impoundment on spawning striped bass – including abandonment of spawning activity – will be minimized. Although data suggest that capture in pound nets does not cause increased mortality, decreasing hold time will mitigate any sub-lethal effects on spawning activity. A check time of 24 hours or more will be set by public notice prior to the start of each season.

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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

Billfish

Proposed December 10, 2012 December 28, 2012 None January 28, 2013 March 4, 2013

08.02.05.26 and 08.02.12.03

The purpose of this action is to list roundscale spearfish (Tetrapturus georgii) as "in need of conservation" to allow management of roundscale spearfish consistently with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and change the genus of white marlin to reflect the recent taxonomic change. These changes are consistent with input and advice from billfish experts in the scientific community and will allow NMFS to more accurately and appropriately manage Atlantic billfish species using the latest scientific nomenclature and species determinations.

As a result of scientific research, a ''new'' billfish species called roundscale spearfish was identified in 2006. This species was previously thought to be the same as white marlin because they are nearly indistinguishable by size, shape and color. DNA testing and other identifying factors confirmed the taxonomic distinction between roundscale spearfish and white marlin. Roundscale spearfish have effectively been managed as white marlin (with the same size limit and authorized gear as white marlin) due to difficulties in identifying and distinguishing them from white marlin and because roundscale spearfish weren't known to exist prior to 2006. In 2010, NMFS finalized an interpretive rule to recognize roundscale spearfish as part of the definition of "HMS" (Highly Migratory Species) in the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA). Currently, management of roundscale spearfish and Atlantic white marlin is uniform; as new information becomes available, separate management measures may be considered.

In 2008, further DNA analysis and research indicated a change in genus of Atlantic white marlin from Tetrapturus to Kajikia. This was adopted by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System and in 2010, NMFS published a final action amending the MSA to include the taxonomic changes to Atlantic white marlin.

The removal of the endangered and threatened species lists is administrative only. The lists being removed are outdated. The current lists are located in COMAR 08.03.08.

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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.