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Changes to Fishing Regulations

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

Learn How to Get Involved with Fisheries Rulemaking.


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

ATLANTIC SURFCLAM - Housekeeping
BAIT - Prohibit Use of Certain Species as Bait - UPDATED 7/26/2021
BLUE CRABS - Commercial Trotline Time Restrictions and Other Clarifications
BLUE CRABS - St. Jerome’s Creek Crab Pot Line
CATFISH - Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish
COMMERCIAL REPORTING - For-Hire Vessels
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Catoctin Creek Delayed Harvest Area
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Removal of Special Regulations
GEAR - Commercial Hook and Line - Susquehanna River
GEAR - Finfish Trotlines
GEAR - Pound Net Site Activation Procedure
GEAR - Shortlines
GENERAL - Fishery Management Areas
OYSTERS - Clarifications to Culling Requirements
OYSTERS - PSFA Criteria
OYSTERS - Removal of Harvest Reserve Area Regulations and Designation
PENALTIES - Updates to Recreational, Commercial, and Seafood Dealer Penalty Schedules
PILOT PROGRAMS - Addition of Catfish
SHELLFISH (Oysters and Clams) - NSSP Requirements
STRIPED BASS - Recreational In-Season Closure



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ATLANTIC SURFCLAM - Housekeeping
COMAR 08.02.08.07

The department would like to make the rules for Atlantic surfclams consistent with federal waters. Atlantic surfclams are harvested from federal waters and landed in Maryland. The rules should be consistent with federal waters.

This requires:

  1. Updating the name — surfclam is one word, not two; and
  2. Requiring individuals to follow the federal rules.
 
 
 
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BAIT — Prohibit Use of Certain Species as Bait — UPDATED 7/26/2021
COMAR 08.02.11.04

The department is considering originally considered prohibiting the use of select sportfish species (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, muskellunge, and all species of trout) as bait (live or cut bait). This restriction would apply in all Maryland waters.
After feedback from the public and further internal review of the original concept, the department is now also considering prohibiting northern pike, pickerel, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, and tiger muskellunge as bait, in addition to the original list of species.

 
 
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BLUE CRABS - Commercial Trotline Time Restrictions and Other Clarifications
COMAR 08.02.03.01, .07, .09, and .11

The department is considering changes to the commercial trotline time restrictions in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries as well as clarifying rules pertaining to handlines, eel pots, and commercial licensing.

 
 
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BLUE CRABS - St. Jerome’s Creek Crab Pot Line
COMAR 08.02.03.07

The purpose of this action is to clarify the crab pot line at the mouth of St. Jerome’s Creek in St. Mary's County.The department is also removing duplicative language related to commercial licensing requirements.

 
 
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BLUEFIN TUNA, BILLFISH, SWORDFISH, AND SHARK — Recreational Reporting
COMAR 08.02.05 and COMAR 08.02.22

The National Marine Fisheries Service requires all recreational anglers to report bluefin tuna, billfishes, and swordfish. Additionally, all landed sharks (except spiny dogfish) are required to be reported in Maryland. The catch card census program is used to meet this requirement.

The department would like to make it easier for recreational anglers to comply with the catch card census program’s reporting and tag requirements and is considering the following changes:

  1. Allow a shark caught from shore to be moved from the point of landing to the nearest catch card census reporting station where a catch card must be returned and exchanged for a tag.
  2. When a catch card census reporting station is closed, allow an angler to retain the receipt from the completed catch card instead of obtaining a tag.
 
 
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CATFISH - Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish
COMAR 08.02.01.01

The department is planning to incorporate the Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish (December 2021) into regulation.

 
 
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COMMERCIAL REPORTING — For-Hire Vessels
COMAR 08.02.13.06

The department is considering modifying the reporting requirements for commercial licensees who operate charter boats.

 
 
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FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Catoctin Creek Delayed Harvest Area
COMAR 08.02.011.01

The department is considering moving the boundary of the Delayed Harvest Area on Catoctin Creek in Frederick County from the boundary of Catoctin Creek Park at the Sumantown Road Bridge upstream 200 feet.

 
 
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FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS — Cut Bait

The department is considering allowing the possession and use of cut bait in nontidal waters. Although cut bait is widely used and accepted as a method of catching catfish, current regulations prohibit its use in nontidal waters. The department is considering allowing it with the following restrictions:

  1. Only fish with no minimum size restrictions can be used as cut bait.
  2. An angler may possess no more than two pounds of cut bait at any time.

 
 
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FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Definitions

The department would like to create definitions for daily creel limit, possession limit, and bait fish in nontidal waters.

 
 
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FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS — Removal of Special Regulations

The department is considering removing certain special regulations for 24 impoundments across the State. The regulations for those impoundments will transition from the special regulations to the statewide general regulations. Current special regulations have not met statewide management objectives for black bass. Reverting to statewide regulations in several areas will simplify regulations and remove unnecessary angling restrictions.

 
 
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GEAR — Commercial Hook and Line — Susquehanna River
COMAR 08.02.05.02

The purpose of this action is to adjust the commercial hook and line fishing line in the Susquehanna River. Currently, the line is at the mouth of Deer Creek. The change would move that line upstream to the northernmost tip of Rowland Island.

 
 
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GEAR — Finfish Trotlines
COMAR 08.02.25.06

The department is considering removing the requirement that a licensed commercial harvester obtain an additional permit in addition to use finfish trotline gear with an applicable fishing license.

 
 
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GEAR — Pound Net Site Activation Procedure
COMAR 08.02.25.07

The department is considering changing the timeframe required to activate pound net sites at a regional service center. Pound net site activation would be now be for the license year and would be able to be conducted during license renewal, at the same time as other administrative processes are completed for the upcoming license year.

 
 
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GEAR — Shortlines
COMAR 08.02.25.01 and .06

The department is considering adopting a definition for “shortline”, a specific type of finfish trotline gear used to harvest sharks.

 
 
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GENERAL — Fishery Management Areas
COMAR 08.02.01.13

The department is considering the establishment of a Fish Propagation Area on the North Branch of the Potomac River. The area covered by this designation would begin at the upstream end of the upper Catch and Release Management Area and continue upstream to the outfall of Jennings-Randolph Reservoir.

 
 
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Oysters — Clarifications to Culling Requirements
COMAR 08.02.04

The department is considering clarifying the culling rule for oysters. The current culling law language has been interpreted in a variety of ways that has led to confusion regarding how to properly cull oysters. The changes under consideration would make it clear to all affected parties which oysters must be returned to the oyster bar, which oysters may be retained, and which oysters would be included in the calculation of the percentage of undersized oysters.

 
 
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OYSTERS – PSFA Criteria
COMAR 08.02.04.17

The department would like to establish regulatory criteria that can be used to create new Public Shellfish Fishery Areas (PSFA) and expand existing PSFAs when physical, biological and economic conditions warrant maintaining these areas for public access to shellfish resources.

Criteria being considered are described in the Summary and Compliance Guide.

 
 
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OYSTERS – Removal of Harvest Reserve Area Regulations and Designation
COMAR 08.02.04.13 and .14

The department is considering removing its oyster harvest reserve area regulations and the designation of two areas as harvest reserve areas.

 
 
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PENALTIES — Updates to Recreational, Commercial, and Seafood Dealer Penalty Schedules
COMAR 08.02.13.03, .05 and .10

The department regularly updates its penalty schedule under the advice of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission/Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission Joint Penalty Workgroup. The workgroup recommended changes to the commercial and recreational penalty systems. Please view the summary to see the changes the department is considering.

 
 
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PILOT PROGRAMS — Addition of Catfish
COMAR 08.02.01.10

The department is considering adding catfish to the list of species for which the department may conduct a pilot program.

 
 
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SHELLFISH (Oysters, Hard-Shell Clams, and Soft-Shell Clams) - NSSP Requirements
COMAR 08.02.02, COMAR 08.02.07, and COMAR 08.02.08

The department is considering changes for the oyster and clam (soft-shell and hard-shell) regulations that will ensure compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s Model Ordinance.

Natural Resources Article, §4-1027, Annotated Code of Maryland, authorizes the department, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health, to adopt regulations to carry out the requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP). Under federal law, the state is required to comply with the NSSP for shellfish harvest and sale in order to participate in interstate commerce of shellfish.

 
 
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SHRIMP

The purpose of this action is to allow commercial harvesters the ability to use gear which they are currently licensed to use to commercially harvest shrimp. The action would also allow the department to develop a framework that will be used to create a pilot program for further investigations of the shrimp fishery in Maryland.

 
 
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SPOT
COMAR 08.02.05.03

The department is proposing rules for spot to maintain compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

Spot are currently managed under the Omnibus Amendment to the Spot, Spotted Seatrout, and Spanish Mackerel FMPs, Addendum II, and Addendum III. According to Addendum III management action has been triggered and states are required to implement coastwide regulations for the entire fishery (recreational, charter/head boats, and commercial).

 
 
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STRIPED BASS - Recreational In-Season Closure
COMAR 08.02.15.12

The purpose of this action is to establish an in-season closure period for the striped bass recreational and charter boat fishery and create a definition for target. The proposed action establishes a closure period that begins July 16 and ends July 31. The proposed action also establishes a definition of the term target. Target means to catch or attempt to catch.

This action will ensure Maryland’s compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass.

 
 
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