Changes to Fishing Regulations March 2018

The information provided here 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…ScopingDevelopmentComment PeriodFinal DecisionEffective.

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BLUE CRAB— Sponge Crab Import
CLAM — Hard and Soft
CLAM — Harvest in the Chester River
GEAR – Sharing Commercial Gear
GEAR – Stinger Hooks


STRIPED BASS – Commercial Fishery

Thermometer GraphicBLUE CRAB – Sponge Crab Import
COMAR and .14 

The purpose of this action is to make changes to the commercial crab fishery.  Specifically, the proposed action modifies the dates for importing sponge crabs and the size of the letters displayed on vessels.

Thermometer GraphicBLUELINE TILEFISH

The department needs to make changes to the blueline tilefish regulations in response to Amendment 6 to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Tilefish Fishery Management Plan.

Thermometer GraphicCLAM — Hard and Soft

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


Thermometer GraphicCLAM — Harvest in the Chester River

Current regulations conflict on whether clamming is allowed or prohibited in a certain area of the Chester River. The department would like to clarify that clamming is allowed in Zone A of the Chester River Oyster Recovery Area.


The proposed action adds cobia to the in need of conservation list and creates rules for both the recreational and commercial fisheries. The proposed action establishes rules to allow changes to the regulation by public notice so that Maryland may implement management measures of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Interstate Fishery Management Plan for the Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia in a timely manner.


Thermometer GraphicCOMMERCIAL LICENSE TARGETS – 2017/2018

This proposed action adjusts commercial license targets based on unlimited tidal fish licenses (UTFL) that were downgraded during the 2016/2017 license year.





The proposed action incorporates the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coast King and Spanish Mackerel Fishery Management Plan (1994) and the Fishery Management Plan for Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) in Maryland Tidewater (January 2014) into regulation. The department uses fishery management plans to guide actions taken to conserve and manage the species.

Thermometer GraphicGEAR — Sharing Commercial Gear
COMAR;, .02, .07;, .07;—.07




Thermometer GraphicGEAR — Stinger Hooks

The proposed action clarifies the definition of stinger hook.




Thermometer GraphicHOOKS, BAIT, STRIPED BASS — May 16 through December 15

COMAR; COMAR, .09 and .10; and COMAR and .03

The department submitted an emergency action to the Maryland General Assembly’s? Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review that will make changes to several regulations from May 16 through December 15.  The committee is in the process of reviewing the action.  We hope to have their decision by mid-April so that everyone can prepare for the summer and fall season.

The purpose of this action is to reduce the minimum size of striped bass for the recreational and charter boat summer and fall fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries from 20 inches to 19 inches.  The proposal makes changes in several chapters to accomplish the purpose including changes to the season, gear and use of bait.  All changes apply to recreational anglers and charter boats.

  • Reason:  The intention is to reduce dead discards of striped bass that occur throughout the summer/fall when anglers are using bait.?
  • Minimum Size:  19” for the striped bass summer and fall fishery in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries
  • New Rules Apply:  May 16 through December 15
  • Hook Requirements:
    • *Hook requirements apply to fishing for all species, not just striped bass
    • *Circle hooks required when chumming or live-lining.  Chumming and live-lining are defined
    • *Circle hook is defined in regulation (COMAR as a non-offset hook with the point turned perpendicularly back to the shank.?
    • ?*J hooks with a gap of less than or equal to ½ inch from the point to the shank are required when using bait
  • View the Emergency Proposal?
  • The Procedures for Emergency Regulations may be found on the Joint Committee’s Webpage.
  • If you have questions, please contact Mike Luisi at 410-260-8341  or [email protected].



Thermometer GraphicJONAH CRABS

The purpose of this action is to amend commercial management measures for Jonah Crab (Cancer borealis) in response to Addendum II to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Jonah Crab.  Addendum II to the fishery management plan develops a coastwide standard for claw harvest and establishes requirements for the bycatch fishery.



The purpose of this action is to add three new areas to a geographically diverse network of license free fishing areas throughout the state in order to promote recreational fishing.  An individual fishing in a license free fishing area is required to observe all fishing laws and regulations. A free angler registration is required for anglers fishing without a license in designated tidal license free fishing areas. An individual is exempt from all other license fees and requirements.


The department would like to establish a permit for an out-of-state fish supplier.




OYSTERSThermometer Graphic
The department would like to make it clear that a person may not harvest oysters in a harvest reserve area when it is not open.


PENALTIESThermometer Graphic
The department plans to make annual changes to commercial, recreational and dealer penalties based on the penalty workgroup meeting that was held June 15, 2017.

Thermometer GraphicPUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS — #109 and #110

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference “Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries (November 2016)”. This document contains coordinates for all Public Shellfish Fishery Areas (PSFA) in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. The November 2016 version of this document contains amended coordinates for PSFA 109 to exclude a 4.9 acre portion of an 11.9 acre submerged land lease and PSFA 110 to exclude a 7.7 acre submerged land lease. The proposed action also corrects a reference to statute.




Thermometer GraphicPUBLIC SHELLFISH FISHERY AREAS — #80 and #156

The department has been asked to declassify two public shellfish fishery areas.




The seafood marketing regulations, which includes the True Blue Marketing Program, were transferred to the Department of Agriculture.  Legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session that moved the responsibilities of the program from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture so the regulations are not necessary in our subtitle.


The department would like to add a penalty to the shellfish aquaculture regulations for violating shellfish import rules.


Thermometer GraphicSTRIPED BASS – Commercial Fishery
COMAR and .07
The purpose of this action is to extend the pound net season, change the declaration procedures for the Chesapeake Bay common pool fishery, and allow for partial in-season transfers of both allocation (temporary) and shares (permanent) in both the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean commercial striped bass fisheries. These actions were recommended by the Commercial Striped Bass Industry Advisory Work Group and the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission.

Thermometer GraphicSTRIPED BASS – Recreational Fishery
COMAR and .11
The purpose of this action is to update size limits for striped bass during the Chesapeake Bay recreational and charter boat spring season and the Atlantic Ocean recreational and charter boat striped bass fishery. The changes have been implemented with public notices for several seasons and we would like to put them into regulation. Making the changes in regulation allows the public to be better informed since the rules are in one location.



Thermometer GraphicThe department intends to update the delineations of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Protection Zones.?

Thermometer Graphic

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.


Thermometer Graphic

The purpose of this action is to create a new delayed harvest trout fishing area. The proposed action adds the South Branch Patapsco River from West Friendship Road (Howard Co) and Main Street (Carroll Co) upstream approximately 1.1 miles to the upper boundary of the Hugg Thomas Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the list of Group 1 Delayed Harvest Trout Fishing Areas.

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