The Limited Entry Law was passed by the 1994 Session of the Maryland General Assembly effective April 1, 1994. At that time a two (2) year wait list existed for issuing a commercial tidal fish license. Individuals on that list as of March 31, 1994 were issued a license by March 31, 1996. Individuals applying for a commercial tidal fish license on April 1, 1994 were placed on a waiting list that did not guarantee when an applicant would receive a license. The waiting list consisted of two separate lists, the Primary List and the Secondary List. Under Natural Resources Article, §4-701, Annotated Code of Maryland; subsection (d) (2) (ii), a primary candidate was an applicant who:
- Held a current license and wishes to upgrade or change licenses, or
- Had been a crew member for 2 years certified by 3 current licensees, or
- Held a valid license from another state, or
- Was a family member of a current licensee.
All other applicants that did not qualify for the primary wait list were placed on the secondary wait list.
The 1998 Session of the Maryland General Assembly updated the Limited Entry law effective June 1, 1998. Changes to the law established caps for each license type and created the Apprenticeship Program (§4-701.1). Individuals who were on the primary wait list prior to December 31, 1997, except for crabbing licenses, received licenses. The individuals on the secondary wait list either received an apprenticeship permit or remained on a waiting list to receive an apprenticeship permit.
Senate Bill 274 was passed by the 2006 session of the General Assembly and it was signed into law by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.. Effective July 1, 2006, this bill removes the two year minimum requirement in the program and modifies the practical experience requirements by crediting past experience in certain circumstances. Past experience may apply only to:
- An individual that served as a crew member to a tidal fish licensee within the past 10 years;
- An individual that held a Maryland Provisional Charterboat permit in accordance with Natural Resource Article 4-210.2;
- An individual that held a tidal fish license within the past 10 years and has not permanently transferred a tidal fish license within the past twenty four months;
- An individual that held a temporary transfer of a tidal fish license within the past 10 years; or
- An individual that harvested fish from the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and landed the fish in Maryland.
The amount of practical experience needed has not changed. Past practical experience must include the number of days spent engaged in a particular activity and documented on forms provided by the Department; and any fishing activity reports required by the State or federal government. For an individual that served as a crew member to a tidal fish licensee, practical experience shall include the number of days spent serving as a crew member engaged in a particular fishing activity and certified in writing by the tidal fish licensee on forms provided by the Department; and any fishing activity reports of the tidal fish licensee required by the State or federal government.
The general apprenticeship requirements are:
- Individuals applying for a license other than the Unlimited Tidal Fish License (TFL) need to work with a current commercial tidal fish license holder of the same license for which application was made for 150 days (1200 hours). One day is the equivalent of 8 hours.
- Individuals applying for the TFL license or multiple fishing activities need to work 180 days (1440 hours) in at least two separate commercial activities with a minimum of 480 hours in the second activity.
- Individuals will also need to complete a boater safety course and attend an eight (8) hour commercial fishing program approved by the DNR.
Applicants adding an authorization to a valid commercial tidal fish license other than fishing guide or unlimited tidal fish license type are required to:
- provide documentation that 20% of their gross income was from commercial fishing for the past two (2) years to be eligible to receive the additional authorization
Term of the permit:
- three (3) years from the date of issuance. However, with showing of good cause the permit can be extended for another year. No minimum time.
- eight (8) hours spent in a particular fishing activity (crabbing, oystering, fishing, clamming) is equivalent to one (1) day
Applications are available at any of the six licensing service centers or you may call Allison Luettel, Apprenticeship Coordinator, at 1-800-688-3467 and press "5" to reach the Apprenticeship Program or email Allison Luettel. Individuals who apply for the Fishing Guide license must attach a copy of their U.S. Coast Guard Captain's License to their application.
Applicants to the apprenticeship program are required to:
- complete an application and pay required fees to be eligible for a permit
- participate in the apprenticeship program
- submit a monthly log of daily practical experience
- work with a commercial tidal fish licensee
- complete an eight (8) hour commercial fishing program approved by the DNR
- provide copies of income tax returns if wages are received during the apprenticeship before a license can be issued
1. I CURRENTLY HOLD A COMMERCIAL TIDAL FISH LICENSE. WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO UPGRADE OR ADD ANOTHER AUTHORIZATION?
Current license holders need to apply to be placed on the waiting list. License holders that are applying for an upgrade or another authorization other than a Fishing Guide or TFL need to provide documentation that 20% of their gross income was from commercial fishing for the past two (2) years.
2. I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THE WATER ALL MY LIFE, CAN I RECEIVE CREDIT FOR ANY TIME IN THE PAST?
Yes. Senate Bill 274, effective July 1, 2006, provides for past experience under certain circumstances.
3. HOW ARE INDIVIDUALS MATCHED WITH A CURRENT COMMERCIAL TIDAL FISH LICENSE HOLDER?
Individuals are instructed to contact their local Waterman's Association. When the permit packet is mailed the letter gives instructions for the individual to send information into the Maryland Waterman's Association to be advertised in the Waterman's Gazette.
4. IF I COMPLETE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROGRAM BEFORE TWO YEARS, CAN I RECEIVE MY LICENSE?
Yes. As soon as all the requirements of the Apprenticeship Program have been completed, a review will be started to ensure that the requirements have in fact been completed. A letter will then be mailed for the individual to take to one of the Seven Regional Service Centers to receive the appropriate license or authorization.