Legal Sale of Oysters


Now that you are a leaseholder you are responsible to tag any product harvested from your lease. You should have received a Farm-Raised Shellfish Tagging Fact Sheet in your Shellfish Aquaculture Harvester Permittee packet.

On August 18, 2011, new regulations became effective requiring anyone harvesting shellfish from a lease to complete and affix a Farm-Raised Shellfish tag to each container of shellfish, and shellfish stored in bulk before leaving the leased area from which the shellfish were harvested.

The regulations can be found in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)

These regulations were implemented to bring the State of Maryland into compliance with the federal requirements of the Food and Drug Administration's National Shellfish Sanitation Program. Shellfish tagging is the industry standard nationwide and by bringing our State into compliance we can builder consumer confidence that Maryland shellfish are safe, certified and healthy.

Failure to comply with the state's tagging requirements can result in civil and criminal penalties, including the termination of a person's lease.

If you have any questions or would like to order tags please contact Steve Schneider at 410-260-8329 or

Standard Containers


Legal Sale

Many people do not realize the a shellfish dealer has to be licensed by both the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health in order to buy and/or sell shellfish for human consumption.

A shellfish aquaculture harvester who does not have BOTH of these licenses can ONLY sell to a seafood dealer with a Department of Natural Resources Seafood Dealer's License and a Department of Health Shellfish Certification.

If a shellfish aquaculture harvester does not want to sell his/her catch to a dealer that is licensed by both Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health, then the harvester has to obtain a Shellfish Certification from the Department of Health. This certification allows the harvester to sell ONLY his/her own catch.

If a shellfish aquaculture harvester would like to buy and sell shellfish from other harvesters in addition to his/her own catch, then the harvester has to obtain a Department of Natural Resources Seafood Dealer's License and a Shellfish Certification from Department of Health.

Why two licenses?

There are rules from the Food and Drug Administration called the National Shellfish Sanitation Program Model Ordinance that are required for every state that sells shellfish as a food product. This includes the rule that oysters and clams for human consumption may only be sold to dealers that are certified by the Department of Health. This rule is in the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Health regulation and will be enforced by Natural Resources Police for the safety of both the public and the industry. It is in the best interest of the industry to follow these rules and for Maryland to be known as a source of safe, healthy shellfish.

To obtain a Seafood Dealers License, visit your Regional Service Center.

For more information or to apply for a Shellfish Certification, please contact Kim Coulbourne at or 410-767-8409​.

Buying and Selling Fact Sheet

Frequently Asked Questions