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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.

BLACK DRUM - Commercial Atlantic Ocean FisheryOPEN FOR COMMENT
BLACK SEA BASS - Commercial Gear
BLUE CRABS - Clarifications
CLAM — Hard and Soft
COMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETSOPEN FOR COMMENT
FISH REFUGES - Gumtree Cove
FISH REFUGES - Chicamuxen Creek
GEAR - Finfish Trotlines
GEAR - Fyke Nets
GEAR - Gill Nets 
GEAR - Haul Seines
LICENSING - Charter Boat Decals
OYSTERS - Gear Line Clarifications
OYSTERS - Harvest Reserve Areas
OYSTERS - Recreational and Commercial Rules
OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE - PSFA Declassification
PENALTIES - 2017 and 2018 Changes
PENALTIES - Recreational
REPORTING - Charter Boats
SHARKS - Recreational Fishery
SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product
SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers
STRIPED BASS - Commercial Declaration of Intent
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AMERICAN EEL
COMAR 08.02.05.08

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

 
 
 
 
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BLACK DRUM - Commercial Atlantic Ocean Fishery
COMAR 08.02.05.15

The purpose of this action is to correct the minimum size for the commercial black drum fishery in the Atlantic Ocean. The proposed action requires a black drum harvested from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean be a minimum of 16 inches in length.

 
 
 
 
 
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BLACK SEA BASS - Commercial Gear
COMAR 08.02.05.21

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

 
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BLUE CRABS - Clarification

The department would like to make several clarifications to the blue crab regulations. Please see the summary for details.

 
 
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CLAM — Hard and Soft

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

 
 
 
 
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COMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETS
COMAR 08.02.01.05

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

 
 
 
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FISHERY MANAGEMENT AREAS
COMAR 08.02.01.13

The department would like to make it clear that a person may not add structures or modify land or vegetation in or on the waters of any fishery management area.

 
  • Please Note: This topic was originally included with the information for nontidal waters. The proposals are being developed separately.
  • View the Summary
 
 
 
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FISH REFUGES — Gumtree Cove
COMAR 08.02.17.01

The purpose of this action is to remove the designation of Gumtree Cove, located in Nanjemoy Creek, as a fish refuge. Removing the designation will increase fishing access and opportunities in Nanjemoy Creek. This idea is supported by the Black Bass Advisory Subcommittee.

 
 
 
 
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FISH REFUGES — Chicamuxen Creek
COMAR 08.02.17.02

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

 
 
 
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GEAR — Finfish Trotlines
COMAR 08.02.25.06

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

 
 
 
 
 
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GEAR - Fyke Nets
COMAR 08.02.05.02, 08.02.21.03, and 08.02.25.09

The department would like to require individuals to remove fyke net poles from the water within 30 days after removing the net.

 
 
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GEAR — Gill Nets
COMAR 08.02.05.02

The purpose of this action is to allow the use of monofilament gill nets in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. This action is based on the passage of Senate Bill 7 (Chapter 80 of the 2019 Laws of Maryland).

Monofilament gill nets will be allowed under the same restrictions currently in place for gill nets made of other materials such as multi-strand or multifilament fibers.

 
 
 
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GEAR — Haul Seines
COMAR 08.02.05.02 and 08.02.25.08

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

 
 
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HORSESHOE CRABS

The department would like to remove the requirement to print the trip limits on horseshoe crab permits.

 
 
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LICENSING — Charter Boat Decals
COMAR 08.02.01.07

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

 
 
 
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NONTIDAL WATERS
COMAR 08.02.01, .03, and .04

The purpose of this action is to increase the possession limit to twice the daily creel limit for trout species in certain areas, clarify the description for the Fishing Creek put-and-take trout fishing area, and include all nontidal impoundments as areas where an angler may keep a striped bass.

 
 
 
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OUT OF STATE FINFISH SUPPLIERS

The department would like to remove the requirement that an individual submit an application for an out-of-state finfish supplier permit at least 45 days in advance of needing the permit. Due to the implementation of an electronic application process, this requirement is no longer necessary.

 
 
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OYSTER MANAGEMENT PLAN
COMAR 08.02.01.01

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
 
 
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OYSTERS - Harvest Reserve Areas
COMAR 08.02.04.14

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

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

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

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

 
 
 
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OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE – PSFA Declassification
COMAR 08.02.04.17

The department would like to declassify portions of four public shellfish fishery areas (PSFA 134, 136, 140, and 156) and make a correction to one public shellfish fishery area (PSFA 119).

A lease is not allowed to be located within 150 feet of a public shellfish fishery area (PSFA), so each declassification includes the proposed lease area and the required 150 foot buffer around the proposed lease. The buffers will remain open to oyster harvest following declassification.

 
 
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PENALTIES - 2017 and 2018 Changes

The department intends to make annual changes to commercial, recreational and dealer penalties based on the recommendations of the joint penalty workgroup of the Sport Fisheries and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions. The annual penalty workgroup meetings were held June 15, 2017 and June 7, 2018.

 
 
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PENALTIES - Recreational

Based on the results of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission/Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission Penalty Workgroup held on June 25, 2019, the department is considering adding penalties to the recreational penalty system for certain fishing violations. Of the topics discussed, the workgroup recommended adding a 1 year suspension for a second or subsequent closed oyster area offense by a recreational harvester, a 90 day suspension for a recreational oyster harvest time violation, and a 1 year suspension for a recreational angler who has reduced a snakehead to personal possession and not killed it.

 
 
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REPORTING — Charter Boats
COMAR 08.02.13.06

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

 
 
 
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SCUP

The department would like to remove the specific language regarding trawl mesh size requirements and replace it with a statement that the mesh requirements are set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and will be announced by public notice.

 
 
 
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SHARKS
COMAR 08.02.22.02 and .04

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

 
 
 
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SHELLFISH - Delivery of Product

The department plans to require that shellfish (oysters and clams) be delivered to a buy station on the same day of harvest so that harvesters are in compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP).

 
 
 
 
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SHELLFISH - Seafood Dealers

The department would like to put the seafood dealer requirements for following the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance into regulation. The model ordinance requires that dealers must only accept product from a licensed harvester on the day of harvest. It is not legal for seafood dealers to purchase oysters from unlicensed individuals.

 
 
 
 
 
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SNAKEHEAD
COMAR 08.02.11.04 and 08.02.19.06

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

 
 
 
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SNAPPER GROUPER COMPLEX AND TILEFISH
COMAR 08.02.05.29 and .30

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

 
 
 
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STRIPED BASS — Commercial Declaration of Intent
COMAR 08.02.15.04

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

 
 
 
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STRIPED BASS — Recreational Fishery
COMAR 08.02.05.02 and COMAR 08.02.15.03, .08, .09 and .10

The department is considering:

  1. Putting the rules (hook requirements, sizes, and seasons) for the recreational fishery that were in place only for 2018 and 2019 into place for future years.
  2. Changing the start of the recreational and charter boat spring season (trophy season) to May 1. The current start date is the third Saturday in April.
  3. Prohibiting catch and release or targeting striped bass from March 1 through April 30.
 
 
 
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SUBMERGED AQUATIC VEGETATION
COMAR 08.02.01.12

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). View the summary for details and maps.

 
 
 
 
 
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TAUTOG

The department plans to implement changes for the commercial and recreational tautog fishery in response to the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Tautog.

 
 
 
 
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YELLOW PERCH FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN
COMAR 08.02.01.01

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference Amendment 1 to the 2002 Maryland Tidewater Yellow Perch Fishery Management Plan (December 2017). The amendment formally updates the yellow perch management framework in Maryland. The Department uses fishery management plans to guide actions taken to conserve and manage the species.

 
 
 
 
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YELLOW PERCH - Clarification for Coordinates
COMAR 08.02.21.03

The purpose of this action is to clarify coordinates in the yellow perch chapter regarding where fyke nets cannot be set. A recent review of coordinates found three areas that need to be clarified. The proposed action updates and clarifies coordinates in the Bush and Chester Rivers.

 
 
 
 
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