ATLANTIC SURFCLAM - Housekeeping
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.
- Updating the name — surfclam is one word, not two; and
- Requiring individuals to follow the federal rules.
BAIT — Prohibit Use of Certain Species as Bait
COMAR 08.02.20.01, and .03
The Department is proposing prohibiting the use of select sportfish species (largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, striped bass, striped bass hybrids, walleye, muskellunge, tiger muskellunge, northern pike, pickerel, and brown and brook trout) as bait (live or cut bait). This restriction would apply in all Maryland waters.
BLACK SEA BASS - Commercial Quota
The Department would like to update the commercial quota information to reflect recent changes made by the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC). The annual total allowable landings of black sea bass for the commercial fishery is set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and shall be published through a public notice.
BLUE CRABS - Addition of Juneteenth Holiday and Crab Pot Set Time Clarification
COMAR 08.02.03.11 and .12
The Department is modifying and clarifying the commercial harvest times for blue crabs.
BLUE CRABS - Coastal Bays Commercial Crab Pot Limit
The Department is considering clarifying the 300-crab pot limit in Maryland's Coastal Bays COMAR 08.02.03.07D(6).
BLUE CRABS - Crab Pot Line Clarifications
The Department is considering rewriting the crab pot line regulation COMAR 08.02.03.07E—H in a simpler, more effective, and accurate manner.
BLUE CRABS - Hard Crab Tolerance Limits
The Department has proposed modifying the tolerance limits for undersized male hard crabs to six crabs per container smaller than a barrel. The current tolerance limit is five crabs per bushel and 13 crabs per barrel. The undersize tolerance limit for hard crabs stored in barrels and the tolerance limits for soft crabs and peeler crabs would remain the same.
BLUE CRABS - Lugs (Emergency)
COMAR 08.02.03.01 and .14
The Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) has approved emergency regulations to define a "lug" and allow the use of lugs to hold mature female hard crabs. This emergency regulation will be effective through December 31, 2023.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
COMMERCIAL REPORTING - Snakehead and Catfish Licenses
The Department would like to modify its reporting regulations to require individuals who have the Northern Snakehead License and the Blue and Flathead Catfish Finfish Trotline License to submit monthly reports, similar to the rest of the commercial licensees who harvest finfish from Maryland’s tidal waters. These are relatively new licenses created by the General Assembly that were not included when the reporting regulations were first written because these licenses did not exist at that time.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Brown Trout Creel Limit in Beaver Creek
The Department would like to reduce the creel limit of brown trout in Beaver Creek to zero, from the confluence with Antietam Creek upstream to the Albert Powell State Trout Hatchery.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Areas
The Department is considering requiring anglers to use barbless hooks when fishing in all Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Areas and Delayed Harvest Fishing Areas during the catch-and-return season.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Cut Bait and Definitions
The Department is proposing to allow 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 also proposing definitions for daily creel limit, possession limit, and bait fish in nontidal waters.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Fly Fishing-Only Areas
The Department is considering removing the leader length restriction in fly fishing-only trout management areas.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Put-and-Take Trout Fishing
The Department is considering adding Bynum Pond (Harford County) and Warfield Park Pond (Howard County) to the list of Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Areas and extending the Patapsco River Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Area (Baltimore and Howard County) upstream to Ilchester Road. The Department is also considering the removal of Forest Hill/Friends Park Pond (Harford County), Pine Lake (Montgomery County), Jones Falls below Lake Roland (Baltimore County), and Beaver Run (Carroll County) from the list of Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Areas.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Saugeye
The Department is proposing to establish a minimum size and creel limit for saugeye consistent with existing regulations for walleye.
- 15-inch minimum size
- 5 fish per day creel limit, 10 in possession
- No closed season
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Walleye in Deep Creek Lake
The Department is considering the establishment of an 18 - 21-inch protected slot length limit for walleye in Deep Creek Lake.
GEAR - Projectile Gear in Fishery Management Areas
The Department is considering the prohibition of projectile gear in all Fishery Management Areas (FMAs).
HOUSEKEEPING - Shortline Cleanup
COMAR 08.02.22.01 and .03 and COMAR 08.02.25.06
The Department is considering making minor changes to its shark regulations by removing certain shortline rules duplicated in the Department's gear regulation and moving certain shortline rules from the Shark chapter to the Gear chapter which are better suited there.
LOBSTER AND JONAH CRAB - Vessel Monitoring Systems
COMAR 08.02.08.06 and .10
The Department would like to implement the provisions of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Addendum XXIX to Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Lobster and Addendum IV to the Jonah Crab Fishery Management Plan. The Addenda establish electronic tracking requirements for federally permitted vessels in the American lobster and Jonah crab fisheries, with the goal of collecting high-resolution spatial and temporal effort data to support several ongoing efforts. More information is available at the following website:
NONTIDAL – Trout
The Department is proposing to create a youth-only trout fishing day, change the trout fishing start time on trout season's opening day from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in all of the Closure 1 and Closure 2 put-and-take trout areas, establish a put-and-take Trout Fishing Area on Little Pipe Creek in Carroll County, MD, modify the Delayed Harvest Area in Catoctin Creek, and remove Jones Falls from the list of Youth, Senior, and Blind special management areas.
NUISANCE AND PROHIBITED SPECIES - Blue and Flathead Catfish
COMAR 08.02.19.04 and .08
The Department is considering prohibiting the live possession of invasive blue catfish and flathead catfish. Blue catfish and flathead catfish can potentially cause significant negative impacts on native and naturalized fish species via predation, resource competition, and displacement. It is illegal to move blue and flathead catfish from one “waterbody” to another. “Waterbody” is defined by a HUC-6 designation. Because HUC-6 designations are not easily understood by the general public or law enforcement, allowing for the live possession of these catfishes has made enforcement of this prohibition challenging. In line with the Department’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan, the general prohibition on the possession of live blue and flathead catfish will reduce the possibility of these fish being illegally introduced to water bodies around the State.
The Department has already prohibited the live possession of other invasive fish, such as the northern snakehead. For northern snakeheads, anglers may immediately release a live fish back to the water from which it was caught but may not retain a live snakehead in their possession. Prohibiting the possession of live blue catfish and flathead catfish will standardize the possession rules for the three invasive fishes managed by the Department, making it easier for law enforcement to enforce the rules and the general public to comply with them.
An exception for live possession of blue catfish and flathead catfish would be made for commercial licensees, fish processors, transporters, and facilities exhibiting these species. Many commercial licensees have developed live markets for blue catfish and flathead catfish. These fish are generally sold to wholesale fish processors who transport live catfish to facilities where the fish are processed for food or other beneficial uses. Commercial licensees and licensed seafood dealers would be exempt from the live possession prohibition. Individuals intending to transport live blue catfish or flathead catfish throughout the state to release the fish to fee fishing ponds in their home states would need to have a bill of sale or bill of lading to establish the provenance of the fish in their possession. Facilities which exhibit these species, such as Bass Pro Shops or zoos, may likewise be required to obtain a permit to hold blue catfish or flathead catfish in exhibition tanks.
OYSTERS — Fees for Purchasing, Hauling, and Planting Fresh Oyster Shell
The Department is proposing to alter the procedure for establishing the fair market value the Department pays for fresh oyster shells and transportation and placement of fresh oyster shells. The current value is set by regulation; the Department is proposing to modify the regulation to set the value by public notice.
OYSTERS - Partial Declassification of Public Shellfish Fishery Area 156
The Department is considering declassifying a portion of Public Shellfish Fishery Area (PSFA) 156. A lease is not allowed to be located within 150 feet of a public shellfish fishery area, so the declassification includes the leased area and a required 150-foot buffer around the portion of the leased area that falls within the PSFA.
OYSTERS – PSFA Criteria
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.
PENALTIES — Updates to Recreational, Commercial, and Seafood Dealer Penalty Schedules (2021 and 2022 Updates)
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.
SHELL RECYCLING TAX CREDIT — Repeal
The Department is considering repealing all of our Shell Recycling Tax Credit regulations.
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.
SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - Pilot Programs
The Department is considering creating a pilot program permit structure for future aquaculture pilot programs. The Department would then be able to conduct certain voluntary pilot projects for the practical demonstration and evaluation of alternative aquaculture management methods to increase accountability as well as efficiency and value within the industry.
SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE AND WILD OYSTERS - Bulk Tagging
COMAR 08.02.04 and 08.02.23
After consultation with the Aquaculture Coordinating Council and Oyster Advisory Commission, the Department is considering allowing the use of bulk tags for oysters under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
SPECIES IN NEED OF CONSERVATION - Longnose Gar
COMAR 08.02.05 and 08.02.12
The Department is considering declaring longnose gar as In Need of Conservation and establishing a creel limit for the species.
STRIPED BASS - Elimination of Commercial Chesapeake Bay Common Pool Fishery
COMAR 08.02.15.04, .05, and .07
The Department is considering eliminating the Chesapeake Bay Common Pool commercial striped bass fishery. Doing this will mean that all individuals participating in the commercial striped bass fishery in the Chesapeake Bay would then participate in the Individual Transferrable Quota fishery.
SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION PROTECTION ZONES
The Department needs to revise the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Protection Zones. Zones are being revised using data from an annual aerial survey compiled by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS).