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 — UPDATED 7/26/2021
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.
BLUE CRABS - Addition of Juneteenth Holiday and Crab Pot Set Time Clarification
COMAR 08.02.03.11 and .12
The department is considering 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 is considering 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.
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.
CATFISH - Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish
The department is planning to incorporate the Fishery Management Plan for Tidewater Catfish (December 2021) into regulation.
COMMERCIAL REPORTING — For-Hire Vessels
The department is considering modifying the reporting requirements for commercial licensees who operate charter boats.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Catoctin Creek Delayed Harvest Area
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.
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:
- Only fish with no minimum size restrictions can be used as cut bait.
- An angler may possess no more than two pounds of cut bait at any time.
FISHING IN NONTIDAL WATERS - Definitions
The department would like to create definitions for daily creel limit, possession limit, and bait fish in nontidal waters.
GEAR — Fishing in Assateague State Park
The department is considering implementing restrictions on fishing methods similar to the Town of Ocean City at Assateague State Park during the camping season of April through October. The specific limits would be to prohibit the use of chum and to prohibit the delivery of bait by any means other than rod and reel when fishing from shore. In practice, this means that shore-based anglers would no longer be able to use kayaks, rockets, or drones to deliver baits further than they are able to cast with their rod.
GEAR — Projectile Gear
The department is considering adding residences to the safety zone list for projectile gears, reducing the safety zone from 100 yards to 50 yards, and establishing that the length of retrieval lines may not exceed 35 yards. The department previously scoped the addition of residences to the safety zone list.
GEAR — Projectile Gear Safety Zone Clarification
COMAR 08.02.25.02, .03, and .05
The department is considering amending the language to projectile gear safety zones regarding international diving flags. The change would simplify the terminology regarding diving flags and be consistent with neighboring jurisdictions.
GEAR — Shortlines and Finfish Trotlines
The department is proposing to adopt a definition for “shortline,” a specific type of finfish trotline gear used to harvest sharks, and to remove the requirement that a licensed commercial harvester obtain an additional permit in addition to use finfish trotline gear with an applicable fishing license.
GENERAL — Fishery Management Areas
The department is modifying 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.
NONTIDAL – Addition of Little Pipe Creek Put-and Take Trout Fishing Area
The department wants to establish a put-and-take Trout Fishing Area on Little Pipe Creek in Carroll County, MD.
NONTIDAL – Fishing Hours for Trout
The department would like to change the start time for trout fishing on the opening day of trout season from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. in all of the Closure 1 and Closure 2 put-and-take trout areas. Other areas – which are not subject to closure – would not be affected.
NONTIDAL – Removal of Jones Falls Special Management Area
The department is considering the removal of Jones Falls from the Youth, Senior, and Blind Fishing Areas list.
NONTIDAL – Youth Only Trout Fishing Day
The department is considering adding a youth-only fishing day for trout on the Saturday prior to the traditional opening day (last Saturday in March), beginning at 6:30 a.m. This would be limited to the Closure 1 put-and-take trout areas and have a creel of two fish per day. Other trout management areas will remain unaffected by this change.
OYSTERS — Clarifications to Culling Requirements
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.
OYSTERS — Fees for Purchasing, Hauling, and Planting Fresh Oyster Shell
The department is considering altering 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 considering changing the regulation to set the value by public notice.
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.
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.
PENALTIES — Updates to Commercial and Recreational Penalty Systems (2022)
The department is considering updates to its commercial and recreational penalty schedules based on the 2022 meeting of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission/Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission Joint Penalty Workgroup.
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.
PILOT PROGRAMS — Addition of Catfish
The department is considering adding catfish to the list of species for which the department may conduct a pilot program.
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.