Fishery Management Plans

What is a Fishery Management Plan?

A Fishery Management Plan (FMP) serves as a framework for conserving and wisely using fishery resources. An FMP provides a format for undertaking management measures throughout Maryland state waters. In addition, FMPs allow the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR or Department) to specifically address issues that are unique to Maryland resources. The goal of an FMP is to protect the resource while allowing sustainable harvest. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) states that the main objective of fisheries management is to “allow enough harvest to sustain and build the fishing and seafood industries while protecting the productivity and sustainability of the marine ecosystems.”

Guidelines for the contents of a plan are described in Natural Resources Article, §4-215, Annotated Code of Maryland. When developing or reviewing a plan, staff review previous management measures, current monitoring data and results, stock assessment conclusions, scientific research data, ecosystem and socioeconomic factors, and other relevant data and information. ​

What happens after a plan is adopted?

Upon adoption of an FMP, most of the FMPs are incorporated by reference into the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR). Incorporation by reference (IBR) is a legal device by which one document is made a part of another simply by referring to it. The text of the referenced document, in this case the FMP, becomes fully and legally a part of COMAR. A regulation proposing to incorporate a document by reference is no different than any other proposed regulation. All the standard regulation-making procedures apply. In some cases, regulatory and statutory actions may be necessary to fully implement a management action and must go through the appropriate process, including scoping and public comment. Visit our Regulation pages for information about the regulatory process.

How does the FMP guide management?

Natural Resources Article, §4-215, Annotated Code of Maryland states: Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, except § 4–1002 of this title, once a fishery management plan has been adopted by regulation, the State’s fishery resources shall be harvested in accordance with the conservation and management measures in the fishery management plan and any regulations implementing or amending that plan.

Annual Report for FMPs

Each year the Department prepares a report about each FMP for the General Assembly. The report covers the previous year using the data available at the time.


2017-2019 Fishery Management Plans Report to the Legislative Committees​

Fishery Management Plans

Management Plan(s)
American Eel
Atlantic Croaker
Black Drum
Black Sea Bass
Blue Crab, Chesapeake Bay
Blue Crab, Coastal Bays
Brook Trout
Eastern Oyster
Hard Clam, Coastal Bays
Horseshoe Crab
Largemouth Bass
Mackerel, Spanish and King
Northern Snakehead
Red Drum
River Herring (Alewife and Blueback)
Shad, American and Hickory
Spotted Seatrout
Striped Bass
Summer Flounder
Yellow Perch

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