Maryland Proposed Fishing Regulations

This is a summary of regulatory proposals submitted by Fisheries Service. Consult the Maryland Register, Code of Maryland Regulations and Natural Resources Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland for full legal text. If you have questions regarding the proposed regulations, please e- mail them to the Regulatory Staff.

Fisheries Service welcomes public comment on proposed regulations. However, only comments entered during the official public comment period specified under the State Government Article, Title 10, Annotated Code of Maryland become part of the official regulatory record. The official public comment period is 30 days after publication in the Maryland Register. Receiving comments on the proposal provides the Department with invaluable information and perspectives that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. The Maryland Register notice will provide contact information where all official public comments may be sent.

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View Proposed Fishing Regulations by Year (Currently Showing 2011)

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Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
River Herring Permanent October 3, 2011 October 21, 2011 None November 21, 2011 December 26, 2011

This action would prohibit all recreational and commercial fishing for river herring beginning on January 1, 2012. Amendment 2 to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan requires all river herring fisheries to be closed by January 1 of 2012 with exceptions for sustainable fisheries. This measure was deemed necessary to reverse a steady declining trend in river herring abundance, following a 93% reduction in coast wide landings from 1985 to 2007.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.
Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Commercial Striped Bass Permanent Sept. 2, 2011 September 23, 2011 See Open House Info Below October 24, 2011 November 28, 2011

OPEN HOUSES SCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER

Open houses will be held concerning this proposal. At the open house information will be displayed and individuals will be able to have one-to-one exchanges with Fisheries staff so that they may ask questions, express concerns and make suggestions to the proposal. The open houses will be held on:

  • October 4 from 3-8 p.m. at BG Louis G. Smith Armory, 7111 Ocean Gateway, Easton, MD 21601; and
  • October 6 from 3-8 p.m. at Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, 161 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, MD 21146

The purpose of this action is to achieve a series of core management principles in the commercial striped bass fishery. These principles include:

  1. Sustainability,
  2. Harvest Accountability,
  3. Enforceability, and
  4. Cost Recovery.

Sustainability refers to the ability of the fishery to endure over time; to remain productive and viable both biologically, ecologically and economically. To ensure sustainability in Maryland's commercial striped bass fishery, it is essential that all harvested striped bass are accurately accounted for. The rules and requirements that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) implements to ensure harvest accountability must be functionally enforceable with significant consequences for non-compliance. Finally, to be economically sustainable, the commercial fishery must support itself by ensuring that costs for management and enforcement measures are covered by the industry.

The Department has determined that the commercial striped bass fishery in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay is not currently meeting these management principles. In February of 2011, Maryland experienced significant levels of illegal commercial fishing activity for striped bass. More then 26,000 pounds of fish were confiscated from illegally set gill nets. DNR is also concerned that measures to ensure harvest accountability are not sufficient to prevent the filing of inaccurate reports by check stations or by individual fishermen. Furthermore, there remains substantial misuse and illegal application of striped bass tags.

As a result of this evaluation, the Department is proposing both regulatory and administrative changes to the striped bass fishery. The proposed regulatory actions and administrative changes are described as follows:

Regulatory Actions:

  1. Permanent Marking of Gill Nets. This action would require that an individual's license number be placed on every cork on a gill net or permanently affixed every fifty feet if a float line is used rather than corks. Any net on board a vessel must be marked in such a manner. This will address the deployment of illegal gill nets as it would be illegal to transport and deploy unmarked gear. This action would apply to Chesapeake Bay only.
  2. Gill Net Reels. Outside of the striped bass gill net season, striped bass would be prohibited from being on board any vessel with a gill net or gill net reel on board. This idea would help to ensure that net reels are not used to illegally harvest striped bass outside of gill net season. This action would apply to Chesapeake Bay fisheries only.
  3. Fishing Trip Notification. The intent of this action is for watermen to inform DNR of their intent to fish for striped bass on a given day and to inform DNR of their planned destination and volume of harvest prior to completing each day's trip. This system, referred to as 'hail-in / hail-out' will allow DNR to more effectively monitor, validate and enforce fishing activity and harvest. The action would require a licensee to contact the Department with specified fishing trip information prior to leaving the dock (i.e. fishing license number, region of fishing activity, time of departure) and again prior to returning to the dock (i.e. fishing license number, landing point, check station where striped bass will be checked in, and estimated number of fish harvested) as described in a public notice.
  4. Check Station Audits. This action would clarify that check stations shall comply with Departmental audits. The Department will design random, unannounced audits of striped bass check stations. These audits, where DNR personnel remain on sight at check stations, will work in tandem with the 'hail-in/hail-out' system to ensure effective monitoring and validation of striped bass harvest. This action would apply to all Maryland-registered check stations.
  5. Administrative Penalties. This action would allow the Department to suspend an individual's striped bass permit for up to 2 years for violating the provisions of the striped bass COMAR chapter. This provision would not impact a harvester's fishing authorization, but would ensure the Department's ability to administratively suspend a striped bass permit for non-compliance with striped bass regulations including not reporting or filing inaccurate harvest reports. This action would apply to Chesapeake and Atlantic fisheries.
  6. Enhanced Penalties for Check Stations/Dealers. Businesses are required to be available for inspection. The action will enhance existing penalties by adding the ability to suspend an authorization for failure to allow inspection of fish, reporting violations, or other violations of provisions of the chapter. This action would apply to all Maryland-registered check stations.

Potential Regulatory Action:

Vessel Monitoring Systems. The Department is exploring implementing a "voluntary" pilot vessel monitoring system. Commercial striped bass fishermen who volunteer to participate in this program would have a vessel monitoring system installed on their vessel. These systems would allow DNR, and the industry, to evaluate the use of vessel monitoring systems. In addition, these systems would allow DNR to monitor vessel activity and would work in tandem with the 'hail-in/hail-out' to allow enhanced harvest monitoring and validation. Participants in this program may receive an individual quota and be relieved of certain regulatory and administrative requirements (i.e. daily catch limits, tagging requirements, seasonal closures, etc.) as an incentive to participate in this program.

Pending Regulations:

Currently, there are two regulation proposals:

  1. Striped Bass Penalties. Penalties based on House 1154/Senate Bill 635 for revocation of striped bass authorizations for violations that are egregious, knowingly committed and/or repeated.
  2. Enhanced Points. Enhanced points are proposed as a result of changes to the Department's points and suspensions regulations based on discussions with the Department's Tidal and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission's Penalty Workgroup.

Non-Regulatory Actions:

  1. Quota Hold Back. In the course of its evaluation of the commercial striped bass fishery, the Department found that problems exist with: under reporting and falsifying harvest reports, the illegal or misuse of striped bass tags, and complying with the regulation that requires an individual to personally check-in his/her own harvest. As a result, the Department is less certain that all harvested striped bass are accounted for, and is less certain that the established quota is not exceeded. The Department will determine a percentage of the annual quota to be held back as a buffer against this management uncertainty. The amount of quota held back will be reviewed annually, and adjusted based upon the industry's compliance with accountability and enforcement measures. This action would apply to Chesapeake Bay only.
  2. Enforce Check-In by Permittees. The Department will begin to vigorously enforce the regulation that requires an individual to check his/her own catch. This will increase accountability and limit illegal application of striped bass tags. This action would apply to Chesapeake and Atlantic fisheries.
  3. Enforcement Access to Striped Bass Tag Number Sequences. The Department is developing an application where Natural Resources Police can access the sequence of tag numbers supplied to each striped bass harvester. This system will allow an NRP officer, in the field, to enter a tag number into a smartphone and access the associated harvester's name, license number and declared gear. This action would apply to Chesapeake and Atlantic fisheries.
  4. Required Electronic Reporting for Check-In Stations. Check-In stations will be required to report electronically. This will work in tandem with random check station audits and the 'hail-in/hail-out' system to enhance the monitoring and validation of harvest, and facilitate enforcement efforts. This action would apply to all Maryland-registered check stations.
  5. Cost Recovery. While not part of this regulatory package, the Department is exploring options to recover the management and enforcement costs from the commercial striped bass industry. For example, the Department is working to develop a mechanism by which watermen can purchase their own striped bass tags, rather than have them paid for by the Department. This action would apply to Chesapeake and Atlantic fisheries.

Click here to view proposed text.
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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Crabs Permanent August 8, 2011 August 26, 2011 None September 26, 2011 Oct. 31, 2011

The action would eliminate the regulation that prohibits commercial harvest of blue crabs on the 2nd and 3rd Thursdays in November. The regulation is no longer needed because of the implementation of more effective year-long regulations that limit blue crab harvest, including the closure of the female crab fishery on November 10. The two closed days in November now impact male harvest only and do not result in any measurable reduction in harvest.

The action would remove the requirement to list a vessel number on a crabbing license. The provision was originally put in place in 2001 to assist with enforcement of the commercial day off requirement. However, Natural Resources Police now have access to the computer license system (COIN) to confirm a waterman's day off rather than what is printed on the license. Therefore, the provision is no longer needed for enforcement purposes.

The action would also clarify that all recreational crab pots are required to be marked with the owner's name and address regardless of whether they are set on a pole, buoy or attached to the owner's pier or dock. This aids enforcement officers when identifying the owner of the pot.

The action would allow temporary transfers of frozen and male only limited crab harvester licenses (LCCs). Permanent transfers are currently allowed. Prohibiting the temporary transfer of these LCCs has caused a restriction on temporary transfers of other authorizations as well. This was unintended. Allowing temporary transfers of frozen and male only LCCs will provide license holders with more business flexibility and does not affect conservation measures. Commercial crab fishery options based on the winter dredge survey will be scoped. These will include changes to the current female closure periods and catch limits.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Striped Bass & Crab Penalties Emergency & Permanent August 8, 2011 August 26, 2011 None September 26, 2011 Emergency Effective – August 18, 2011/Permanent Effective -Oct. 31, 2011

The action would add a new regulation for egregious or repeat crab or striped bass violations based on HB 1154/SB 635 from the 2011 General Assembly Session relating to 1) using illegal gear, 2) harvesting during closed season, 3) harvesting from a closed area, 4) exceeding harvest, catch, or size limits, or 5) violating tagging and reporting requirements. This action will also add the oyster poaching penalties provided by SB 159/HB 273 from the 2011 General Assembly (SFAC/TFAC Penalty Workgroup will be consulted.)

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Nontidal Permanent July 25, 2011 Aug. 12, 2011 None September 12, 2011 Oct. 17, 2011

Regulatory Package #1: The nontidal regulatory chapter (COMAR 08.02.11 Fishing in Nontidal Waters) is made up of Regulations 1 through 11. We recently reviewed the chapter and think it needs to be reorganized in order to present regulations in a more concise and clear order. No substantive changes are being made. Sections of regulation will appear in different locations (all sections related to trout are being put into one regulation, nontidal/tidal dividing lines are being moved out of this chapter and into 08.02.01 General since they apply to both tidal and nontidal, and other similar changes).

Regulatory Package #2: Updates the nuisance species regulation to use the more scientifically appropriate term, "crayfish" and not "crawfish." Zebra mussel regulations are moved from the nontidal chapter to the nuisance species chapter. And out-dated regulations are removed from the nontidal chapter.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Clams – Declaration Emergency and Permanent July 25, 2011 August 12, 2011 None September 12, 2011 Emergency effective 7/20/11

The action would require an individual to declare their intent to harvest clams. There will be no fee for this declaration. This would allow the Department to determine the licensees that should be submitting clam reports and who should receive shellfish closure books.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters — Harvest Reserve Areas Permanent July 11, 2011 July 29, 2011 None September 29, 2011 Effective - Permanent – 10/03/11

Removes Harvest Reserve Areas (HRAs) that are in sanctuaries. HRAs are listed in regulation and need to be opened by public notice before an individual may harvest oysters in those areas. The HRAs that are being removed are areas that are in sanctuaries. The sanctuaries were established by regulation in 2010. The sanctuary regulation, because it is newer, overrides the HRA regulation and makes several HRAs not available for opening.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Hearings – Housekeeping Correction Permanent July 11, 2011 July 29, 2011 None September 29, 2011 Emergency Effective July 1, 2011

Proposal Submitted 6/10/2011, Pending AELR Approval
The proposed action clarifies existing hearing requirements before the Department may suspend or revoke a recreational or commercial fishing license. These changes will implement HB396/SB414, eliminating the requirement that the Department must hold a hearing before it suspends or revokes a commercial or recreational license and requiring only that the Department provide written notice to the licensee of a right to a hearing on request.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Striped Bass Permit – Transfer Proposed May 16, 2011 June 3, 2011 None July 7, 2011 August 8, 2011

The proposed action amends Regulation 08.02.15.04 relating to the transfer of a striped bass permit. DNR has launched a program to buy back Unlimited Tidal Fish Licenses ("TFL"). TFL holders with a striped bass permit will be able to participate in the buyback, but must transfer their striped bass permit before August 31, 2011. Regulation currently prevents an individual from transferring a striped bass permit if they have not held it for 3 years. The proposed action would permanently remove the 3-year holding provision and only require a permit holder to have held a permit for 1 year in order to transfer their permit. The action also exempts individuals participating in the License Buyback Program from having to have held their striped bass permit for 1 year.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
2011 Summer Flounder Hook & Line Emergency May 16, 2011 June 3, 2011 None July 7, 2011 August 8, 2011

The purpose of this action is to amend summer flounder recreational and commercial regulations. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a 7.35 million pound increase in the coast-wide 2011 summer flounder total allowable landings (TAL) over the 2010 TAL. The increase in TAL resulted in a coast-wide recreational harvest limit of 11.79 million pounds for the 2011 fishing year and an increase in Maryland's recreational target to 101,000 fish. Preliminary estimates from Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFSS) data estimates Maryland's 2010 recreational harvest to be 38,557 fish and well under the 2010 target of 75,000 fish. The projected 2010 under-harvest combined with the increase in 2011 TAL has allowed Maryland to liberalize the 2011 recreational summer flounder regulations. Several options for the 2011 recreational season were discussed with user groups and advisory commissions. The option chosen reduces the minimum size limit and increases the fishing season by nine days for 2011.

Specifically, the proposed actions reduces the recreational size limit from 19 to 18 inches, starts the season on April 16, a day earlier than 2010, and extends the season so it runs through the Thanksgiving holiday to end on November 30. The recreational regulations will continue to apply to summer flounder caught in all State waters (Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters). Finally, by virtue of the regulations, the size limit for summer flounder caught in State waters by commercial hook and line will also decrease from 19 inches to 18 inches. The proposed permanent action is identical to the proposed emergency action and both actions will be submitted at the same time.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Black Sea Bass- Recreational Season Emergency May 26, 2011 June 17, 2011 None July 18, 2011 August 13, 2011

The purpose of this action is to amend the recreational season for catching black sea bass. The black sea bass fishery is managed cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). States manage these three species within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, under ASMFC's plan for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The applicable species-specific Federal regulations govern vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a summer flounder, scup, or black sea bass Federal charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where they fish.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published the proposed rule for the recreational management measures (size limit, possession limit and season) for the black sea bass fishery in the Federal Register (Vol. 76, No. 77) on April 21, 2011. Based on coast wide quotas, the MAMFC recommended measures designed to reach a 41 percent reduction in landings from the 2010 landings. In the proposed rule, MAMFC agreed to reinstate last year's recreational limits in Federal waters if the ASMFC develops and implements a state-waters conservation equivalency system that, when paired with the Federal status quo measures, would provide the necessary conservation to ensure the 2011 recreational harvest limit will not be exceeded. ASMFC has approved Addendum XXI to the Black Sea Bass FMP that describes conservation equivalency approaches for black sea bass recreational management measures in state waters. Based on this addendum, ASMFC has approved recreational management measures for Maryland that are status quo with 2010. Those recreational limits are: 12 ½ inch minimum size, the possession limit of 25 fish and a recreational season of May 22 – October 11 and November 1 – December 31.

The proposed action for the black sea bass recreational fishery provides the necessary conservation to ensure the 2011 recreational harvest limit will not be exceeded. If the Department does not adopt the proposed season, Maryland will be out of compliance with ASMFC. If Maryland is out of compliance, ASMFC can recommend to the Secretary of NMFS to make a determination to close Maryland's fishery.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Snapper Grouper Proposed May 26, 2011 June 17, 2011 None July 18, 2011 August 13, 2011

The purpose of this action is to renumber the references in the recreational creel limits and provide criteria for managing the snapper grouper complex by public notice. The recreational creel limits proposed and adopted earlier this year created a limit of seven fish for tilefish (including blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, and sand tilefish), one fish for grouper (including black grouper, gag grouper, goliath grouper, graysby, misty grouper, nassau grouper, red grouper, red hind, rock hind, scamp, snowy grouper, speckled hind, tiger grouper, warsaw grouper, wreckfish, yellowedge grouper, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper), and 20 fish for any combination of the remaining species in the snapper grouper complex; however, the references to the species lists were incorrect and are being corrected in this proposal.

The proposed action also brings the method of dispersing public notices up to date by requiring public notices to be posted on the Fisheries Service's website rather than in the newspaper. Comments received from stakeholders have indicated that the major newspapers, where the Department generally posts notices, are not the best form of communication for public notices. The other reason for posting on the website is that notices in the newspapers are very expensive. The Department wants to get the information out to more people. Not printing in the newspaper will allow the Department to use funds to promote other avenues of disseminating information (twitter, facebook, text messaging, etc.).

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Public Shellfish Fishery Areas Permanent and Emergency December 17, 2011 January 28, 2011 None February 28, 2011 January 20, 2011

The purpose of this action is to incorporate by reference "Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries (December 2010)". This document contains coordinates for all public shellfish fishery areas (PSFA) in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.

The September 2010 document established PSFA's 119 and 121 in the Patuxent River. These PSFAs are modified in this proposal to clearly delineate around the existing aquaculture enterprise zone (AEZ) within each area. The coordinates for the two AEZs as described in COMAR 08.02.23.05 are now removed from the surrounding PSFAs along with the 150 foot buffer zone as required by Natural Resources Article, §4-11A-05, Annotated Code of Maryland. The action also adds two new PSFAs (PSFAs 176 and 177) in the South River. These PSFAs were established using commercial harvest records.

Finally, this action incorporates shell and/or seed planting areas that had been planted within the past six years into three existing PSFAs (PSFAs 7, 95 and 110) and one new PSFA (PSFA 175). The money used to plant in these areas came from the industry through the oyster surcharge and taxes collected on each bushel of oysters sold. The Final Programmatic Oyster Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) found that the habitat improvement is gradually lost as planted shell becomes covered in sediment. The EIS concluded that after an average of 5 ½ years the bar is no longer functioning as quality habitat. Therefore, this proposal designates areas planted within the past six years with seed or shell as PSFAs for use by the industry.

Public Shellfish Fishery Areas of the Chesapeake Bay and Its Tidal Tributaries - December 2010

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Juveniles Onboard Commercial Hook & Line Vessels Permanent December 17, 2010 January 28, 2011 None February 28, 2011 April 4, 2011

The purpose of this action is to allow children age 12 and under to be aboard a vessel which is engaged in commercial hook and line fishing. Currently, these vessels are limited to two crew members per licensee or four people total on a vessel. This change was requested by the industry so that licensees may bring children on board their vessel while engaging in commercial fishing activity. The proposed action also clarifies that a charterboat captain or mate may land and possess one striped bass per boat per trip during the entire fall and summer season, including the portion in May as described in regulation. Currently, the language is unclear as to whether the May portion of that season is included for these purposes.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Commercial Points System Permanent December 17, 2010 January 28, 2011 2/1/11 6pm Tawes State Office Building, C-1, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 February 28, 2011 April 4, 2011

The purpose of this action is to amend the existing commercial fishing license and late-reporting penalty systems. The proposal clarifies and corrects existing text in the late-reporting penalty system. The Department proposes to modify the commercial fishing license penalty system based upon changes suggested by the Tidal Fisheries and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commissions' Penalty Workgroup. These changes include adding several new violations to the system. The proposed additions include: violating any closed fishing season, using anchored gill nets illegally to harvest striped bass, using unattended gill nets to harvest striped bass, harvesting excessive amounts over a quota or bushel limit of oysters, summer flounder or striped bass, and illegally fishing gear belonging to another. The action also increases penalties for specific violations based on input from the Penalty Workgroup. The proposed action removes the list of penalties without points and adds these to the point's system tier with the corresponding length of suspension. Additionally, existing text in the commercial fishing license penalty system has changed for clarification or correction purposes.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Charter Boat/Fishing Guide Penalties Permanent December 17, 2010 January 28, 2011 2/1/11 6pm Tawes State Office Building, C-1, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401 February 28, 2011 April 4, 2011

The purpose of this action is to create a new penalty system for charter boat captains and fishing guides. This new system is similar to the existing commercial fishing license penalty system. The system consists of four tiers based on the gravity of the violation. Tier I infractions include basic issues such as minor size and harvest violations and accumulate five points but no immediate license suspension. Tier II violations are those that impact a fish species in need of special protection or otherwise demonstrate a willful disregard for the law. These violations earn ten points and a suspension of as much as 30 days. Tier III convictions are for serious violations that significantly impact the fishery or demonstrate a blatant intent to break the law. Significant violations of catch limits and other serious criminal actions are included in this category and they are worth 15 points and a suspension of as much as 60 days. Additionally, the system includes a fourth Tier which lists extremely egregious violations, such as guiding without a license or selling striped bass caught recreationally. These violations are eligible for 30 points and a 365 day suspension. This penalty system enables the Department to suspend a fishing guide's license/authorization for up to five years once the guide receives three suspensions in any five year period.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Recreational License Corrections and Address Changes Permanent December 17, 2010 January 28, 2011 None February 28, 2011 April 4, 2011

The purpose of this action is to modify licensing requirements. Specifically, this action creates a requirement for individuals licensed, permitted or registered by the Department to update their address within 30 days of any change. A current address is important in aiding the Department in disseminating important information to licensees. Other State agencies and other units in the Department require address updates within 30 days or less.

This action also updates recreational licensing with the requirements of the new law passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2010 session (HB 1345). HB 1345 improved the existing recreational license structure and enabled the Department to meet the requirements of the Federal Angler Registry.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
License Targets Permanent December 17, 2010 January 28, 2011 None February 28, 2011 April 4, 2011

Updates the commercial fishing license authorization targets based on LCC buybacks and license conversions.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oysters – Industry Investment Areas Emergency December 10, 2010 TBD None - January 20, 2011

The proposed action creates several new harvest reserve areas. The action will designate specific areas within new sanctuaries in which industry funded oysters were recently planted. Areas that would have been opened for harvest in 2010-2011 will be opened for a specified period of time, and will include on-water oversight to ensure harvesters work within the specified areas. The amount of days these areas will be opened will be determined based upon the projected number of days to harvest the estimate number of legal size oysters within each area. Permissible harvest gears will be limited to previously allowed gear types within each area. These areas have had an investment by the industry of either seed or shell over the past 6 years. Harvest of legal size oysters in these specific areas will be allowed during the 2010-2011 fishing season by public notice. All of these industry investment areas will revert back to sanctuary status after March 31, 2011.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Snapper Grouper Permanent November 15, 2010 January 3, 2011 None February 2, 2011 March 21, 2011

The purpose of the proposed action is to renumber the references in the recreational creel limits and update the public notice provision. The recreational creel limits proposed and adopted earlier this year created a limit of seven fish for tilefish (including blueline tilefish, golden tilefish, and sand tilefish), one fish for grouper (including black grouper, gag grouper, goliath grouper, graysby, misty grouper, nassau grouper, red grouper, red hind, rock hind, scamp, snowy grouper, speckled hind, tiger grouper, warsaw grouper, wreckfish, yellowedge grouper, yellowfin grouper, and yellowmouth grouper), and 20 fish for any combination of the remaining species in the snapper grouper complex; however, the references to the species lists were incorrect and are being corrected in this proposal. The proposed action also clarifies that the season is open year round and that there is no minimum or maximum size limit.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Nuisance Species Permanent November 15, 2010 January 3, 2011 None February 2, 2011 March 21, 2011

Based on scientific findings, corresponding ecological concerns and recommendations of the Department's Invasive Species Matrix Team, the Department is considering adding the following species to the invasive species prohibited list which would make it illegal for a person to import, transport, purchase, possess, propagate, sell, or release into State waters any of these species: Australian Crayfish of the genus "Cherax" – Specifically Australian redclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus); Marbled Crayfish "Marmokrebs" (Procambarus marmorkrebs); Red Shiner (Notropis lutrensis or Cyprinella lutrensis); and Oriental weatherfish (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus). Additionally, the following species are being considered for the prohibited from transport list which would make it illegal to move these species from the waters of the watersheds where they are established and introduce them into the waters of another watershed: Mimic Shiner (Notropis volucellus); Southern White River Crawfish (Procambarus zonangulus); and Chinese Mystery Snail (Cipangopaludina chinensis and Viviparus malleatus).

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Recreational Fishing License Suspensions Permanent November 15, 2010 January 3, 2011 1/10/11 6pm, Tawes State Office Bldg. C-1, 580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis, MD February 2, 2011 March 21, 2011

The Department proposes to establish a recreational fishing license suspension system, after working with the Tidal Fisheries and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commissions' Penalty Workgroup. This regulation is being created under Chapter 207 of the Acts of 2009 of the Maryland General Assembly. The draft system would create Tiers of violations based on egregiousness. Suspensions beginning at 30 days and going up to 1 year would be given based on which tier the violation was listed under in the system.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Felt-Soled Wader Ban Permanent November 22, 2010 January 3, 2011 1/11/11 - Cumberland February 2, 2011 March 21, 2011

Didymo, (Didymospheria germinata) or "Rock Snot" is an invasive alga of cold flowing waters. Individual didymo organisms are microscopic, but infestations include enormous numbers, and each individual produces a long stalk from the stream bottom. The resulting mass is a yellow-brown slime layer that can dominate the rivers and streams. Didymo infestations in North America are sufficiently new that scientists can only guess at the long-term ecological consequences. Dramatic changes in stream biology have been verified. Didymo is extremely unsightly and makes waterways unattractive to recreational users.

Tragically, the list of places infected in the rapid spread of didymo reads like a catalog of the finest fly-fishing waters on the planet. Resources managers in North America, and especially in New Zealand, guessed early on that the felt-soled waders of traveling fly fishermen were the pathway for its spread. Subsequent field and laboratory demonstrated that the felt sole is an almost perfect medium for its spread.

This regulation would prohibit the use of felt-soled waders in Maryland waters. Alaska and Vermont, states who rely heavily upon fly-fishermen for their tourism industry, have already moved to prohibit felt soles. Many fly-fishermen are aware of the risk and have switched from felt soles (if indeed they ever used them) to rubber soled waders. Rubber soled waders are readily available and some manufacturers (including Orvis and Simms) have or have announced plans to stop offering felt soles because of their potential to ruin rivers and devastate fly fishing – both as an industry and as a tradition.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Crab Housekeeping Correction Permanent October 29, 2010 December 3, 2010 12/7/10, 6pm, Tawes State Office Bldg. C-1, 580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis, MD January 3, 2011 February 7, 2011

The purpose of this action is to clarify text regarding transport of commercially harvested crabs. Regulation currently allows Virginia commercial crabbers to transport their harvest through Maryland waters. This action would allow Potomac River commercial crabbers to also transport their harvest through Maryland waters.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Oyster Power Dredge Study Zones Emergency and Permanent November 23, 2010 January 3, 2011 NONE February 2, 2011 Emergency Effective December 15, 2010

The purpose of the proposed action is to establish power dredge study zones in Kent and Queen Anne's counties to study the impacts of the power dredge fishery on oyster populations. The Department's criteria for the study included: 1) identification of zones in a range of salinities (low, medium and high) in Maryland; 2) each power dredge study zone consisted of no more than 600 aces of bottom; and 3) the bottom was currently not productive. The areas are currently closed to power dredging. Prior to opening, baseline information (i.e. physical characterization of bottom and biological/ecological data) will be collected and upon opening will be monitored for at least 5 years to determine if power dredging is beneficial, detrimental, or has no impact to oyster populations. The results of this study will be used to help determine whether additional areas should be opened to power dredging or if the Department should reconsider areas in which this gear is presently allowed.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Yellow Perch Permanent October 15, 2010 November 19, 2010 None December 20, 2010 January 24, 2011

The purpose of this action is to amend yellow perch regulations for better management of the fishery. Specifically, the proposed action increases the commercial harvest from 100 to 150 pounds per day in the Patuxent River in order to provide greater opportunity to harvest the allocated amount of commercial yellow perch. There are three areas managed for commercial fishing with different harvest targets. The proposed action separates the fishing areas out into the specific management areas for better clarity. The proposed action also changes the public notice provision for changing commercial seasons from 48 hours notice to 24 hours notice in order to improve the Department's ability to prevent the harvest from exceeding the annual harvest target.

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Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Fishing in Nontidal Waters Permanent September 3, 2010 September 24, 2010 October 21, 2010 October 25, 2010 Effective with Non-substantive Changes 1/1/11

The purpose of this action is to update and clarify existing regulations for fishing in nontidal waters.

Specifically, this action removes areas from the list of Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Areas because they are no longer stocked or managed for trout, have reduced water quality or are quite large and require more fish than the Department has available for stocking. The Put-and-Take Trout Fishing Areas closure schedule for Cunningham Falls Lake (Frederick County) and Blair's Valley Lake and Greenbrier Lake (Washington County) were changed to allow opportunities to fish for trout and other species.

This action also expands the Catch-and-Return Trout Fishing Area limited to the use of Artificial Flies on the North Branch of the Potomac River as a result of the increased access available through the Paul Sarbanes Trail; clarifies the boundaries of the Trophy Trout Fishing Area limited to the use of Artificial Lures on the lower Savage River; and clarifies the upper boundary of the Zero Creel Limit Trout Fishing Area on the North Branch of the Potomac River.

The regulations on the Catch-and-Return Bass Fishing Area on the Potomac River from Dam No. 2 at Seneca Breaks upstream to the mouth of the Monocacy River have not produced changes in the fish population that were anticipated. Therefore, the area is being removed from the Catch and Return list and placed under general, statewide regulations, including size and season restrictions.

Finally, this action creates a section that prohibits the public from feeding wildlife on any Fisheries Management Area. This section is being created in order to protect water quality and prevent fish kills in those areas. Feeding wildlife causes problems because the feed attracts many animals, is inappropriate or poorly digested and promotes wildlife to take up residence in areas they would not normally inhabit. This results in more feces and damage to vegetation which causes increased nutrient loading and sedimentation. The nutrient loading and sedimentation which results not only causes poor water quality and fish kills in Fisheries Management Areas, but also contributes to poor Chesapeake Bay water quality.

A public hearing will be held on Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 7pm at Greenbrier State Park Visitor Center, 21843 National Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713

Non-Substantive Change:

We are withdrawing the portion of the proposal related to the catch and return bass fishing area on the Potomac River.

The data show that the size structure and abundance of bass has improved, but these changes cannot be attributed to the catch and release regulation since similar changes have occurred throughout the river. Surveys show that roughly 90% of bass anglers voluntarily practice catch and release. The existing catch and release regulation has not demonstrated a positive or negative impact to the bass fishery during the 15 years it has been in effect, but does restrict some recreational uses (tournaments, occasional harvest). The Department received many comments from people who want to keep the catch and return restrictions in place and only a couple from those who support the regulation change. Since either management option (status quo or the proposed change) is acceptable to the Department and the change is less restrictive than originally proposed, that portion of the proposal is being removed.

Click here to view proposed text.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Proposal Subject Emergency or Permanent Sent for Publication Date MD Register Issue Date Hearing Date Public Comment Deadline Scheduled Effective Date
Power Dredge – Modify Lines and Study Zones Permanent August 9, 2010 August 27, 2010 None September 27, 2010 Effective with Non-Substantive Changes November 29

The purpose of this action is to modify patent tong, dredge boat, hand tong and power dredge area lines based on the new sanctuaries currently proposed under the Governor's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. This includes removing areas like Hickory Thicket Bar and adding coordinates to areas described in statute and adding them to regulation. The proposed power dredge study zones were withdrawn from the regulatory package. Study zones will be proposed on a later date.

Click here to view proposed text. **Note that the proposed text has been altered as specified above. See the November 19 Maryland Register for details.

Public comments may be submitted via fax, 410-260-8310 or email comments to the Regulatory Staff.


Ramps & Maps

Not sure where Tidal and Non-Tidal regulations apply? Want to locate a Striped Bass Spawning area Map? Check here for a description of all the ramps and maps.