Maryland Scoping of Possible Regulations

The information provided on this webpage refers to possible regulations or issues which have not yet been proposed. Any text posted on this webpage is not official regulatory text and is subject to change prior to publication in the Maryland Register. The purpose of posting this text is to make the public aware of issues the Department is considering addressing and to elicit public feedback on these ideas. Receiving comments provides the Department with invaluable information and perspectives that may be incorporated into content or editorial changes. Please limit feedback to the changes specified below. We appreciate your time and your commitment to Maryland's natural resources. If you have questions regarding the proposed regulations, please e- mail them to the Regulatory Staff.

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Possible Regulations for 2016

  
Possible Regulations
Black Bass - Largemouth and Smallmouth

Black Bass - Largemouth and Smallmouth

The Department is considering adding 6 tidal catch-and-return areas for black bass. A catch-and-return area for black bass prevents an individual from possession of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass while in the designated catch and return area. The 6 water bodies include: Chicamuxen Creek, Piscataway Creek, Upper Mattawoman Creek, Furnace Bay, Lower Susquehanna River and Lloyd Creek.

Anglers and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources have noted declines in the Potomac River fishery and have expressed concerns for the upper Chesapeake Bay fishery. The areas are intended to improve reproduction, improve the number of fishable bass in an area by preventing human removal of adult bass from the area, and offer recreational anglers an opportunity to fish areas that are not fished intensively by tournament anglers during tournament days. The areas were chosen because they represent annually stable and suitable habitat for black bass (all areas) and because most are easily identified by posted speed restrictions that also minimize disturbance to black bass nests (Chicamuxen Creek, Mattawoman Creek, lower Susquehanna River). Most areas are currently surveyed annually for juvenile and adult black bass by the Department's Fisheries Service Tidal Bass Program, which limits an expansion of the Department's effort to assess effectiveness of the regulation. Effectiveness will be demonstrated as improvement over existing catch indices detailed in the tidal bass Fishery Management Plan every 3 years. When a catch-and-return area fails to achieve objectives, the catch-and-return area may be recovered to an area that allows possession, but another catch-and-return area will be chosen as replacement.

For more information, including a map of the areas, please see our Fact Sheet.

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, March 10, 2016

Blue Crab - Crabbing Charters

Blue Crab - Crabbing Charters

Currently the decal is valid for the calendar year. Since an individual needs a commercial license to purchase a crabbing charter decal, it makes more sense to make the decal effective for the same time period as the commercial licenses. It would make it easier for a commercial licensee to renew everything at once and not be required to make more than one trip to the service center.

Solution: Change the date that the crabbing charter decal is valid from a calendar year to the commercial license year.

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, February 22, 2016

Blue Crab - Harvest Times in Atlantic Coastal Bays

Blue Crab - Harvest Times in Atlantic Coastal Bays

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking stakeholder comment on a potential change in the time for harvesting blue crabs in the Atlantic coastal bays to be consistent with the Chesapeake Bay. The Department is considering a change to the commercial start time for crabbing in the coastal cays. Currently, a harvester may not remove crabs from gear or set or retrieve crab pots between 2 pm and 5:30 am. Those times are set for April through October. Changing the start time for blue crabs would be more consistent with the Chesapeake Bay regulations and give harvesters flexibility. Additionally, it would allow harvest to occur earlier in the day to avoid high air temperatures which will reduce mortality; allowing more crabs to reach the market.

Possible Options for the Commercial Daily Time Restrictions: The Department is considering 2 options. Both options keep a work day of 8.5 hours. The first option allows a start time of 1 hour before sunrise and the second option allows a start time of ½ hour before sunrise.

Option 1
A person licensed to catch crabs for sale may remove crabs from commercial gear and set or retrieve crab pots in the coastal bays of the Atlantic Ocean and their tidal tributaries;
(a) Between sunrise and 8.5 hours after sunrise during April and October; and
(b) Between 1 hour before sunrise to 7.5 hours after sunrise during the period May through September.

Option 2
A person licensed to catch crabs for sale may remove crabs from commercial gear and set or retrieve crab pots in the coastal bays of the Atlantic Ocean and their tidal tributaries;
(a) Between sunrise and 8.5 hours after sunrise during April and October; and
(b) Between 1/2 hour before sunrise to 8 hours after sunrise during the period May through September.

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, May 30, 2016

Fishery Management Area – Urbana Lake

Fishery Management Area – Urbana Lake

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking stakeholder comment on potentially limiting hunting on Urbana Lake Fisheries Management Area to bow hunting only. Urbana Lake is a 60 acre Fisheries Management Area in Frederick County. The property shares borders with a golf course, residential properties, and I-270. Owners of the adjacent properties and the Natural Resources Police (NRP) have expressed concern about firearm use while hunting near the property boundaries. The managers of the property would like to address these concerns while allowing the hunters that use the property to continue their hunting activities. Limiting hunting on Urbana Lake to bow hunting only will address the boundary concerns of neighboring property owners and NRP. Managers will post “No Firearms” signage on the property to publicize that firearms may not be used.p>

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, May 30, 2016

Jonah Crab

Jonah Crab

The ASMFC Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Jonah Crab, August 2015, states that Jonah crab is in need of protection against the potential negative impacts resulting from an unregulated fishery. Implementation of a coastwide conservation program is required.

Commercial:

  • Participation in the directed trap fishery is limited to only those vessels and permit holders that already hold a lobster permit or can prove prior participation in the Jonah crab fishery before the control date of June 2, 2015;
  • All traps must conform to specifications of the lobster management plan, including the trap tag and escape vent requirements;
  • Landing of Jonah crab by all others would require an incidental permit and would be subject to landing limits;
  • Mandatory reporting;
  • 4.75" minimum size;
  • No possession of egg-bearing females;
  • Only whole crabs may be harvested and sold with the exception of individuals who can prove a history of claw landings before the June 2, 2015 control date.

Recreational:

  • 50 daily possession limit
  • No size restrictions;
  • No possession of egg bearing females.

Solution: List Jonah crabs as in need of conservation and adopt regulations for management in response to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, February 22, 2016

Oysters — Licenses for Divers

Oysters — Licenses for Divers

The Department of Natural Resources is seeking stakeholder comment on a potential change to regulation text related to commercial oyster diving by only requiring those handling gear and taking the oysters into possession on the vessel to have a commercial license. Currently, the text reads that all individuals aboard a vessel engaged in oyster diving need to have a commercial oyster license. However, other gears are not held to this standard and mates that cull or provide other assistance outside of working gear are not required to have a separate commercial license. The Department would like to make diving consistent with other gear types.

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, May 30, 2016

Shellfish Lines - Commercial

Shellfish Lines - Commercial

Clarification of several issues.

1) Area descriptions for Patent Tong Areas (COMAR 08.02.04.01), Dredge Boat Areas (COMAR 08.02.04.08) and Dredging with an Auxiliary Yawl Boat (COMAR 08.02.04.10). These regulations contain ambiguous language that make determining the described areas difficult, for example by referencing points of land that are not defined by coordinates and in some cases no longer exist due to erosion. The Department plans to clarify these areas by assigning coordinates to each point where they are lacking. Coordinates will be based on physical descriptions, natural oyster bar charts, and the most recently available satellite imagery such that the current understanding of the gear areas are not changed, only clarified. This will also strengthen enforcement of these areas.

2) Patent Tong Areas (COMAR 08.02.04.01) — Housekeeping clarification for the Patuxent River. Section A states "a person may not use patent tongs to catch oysters in any of the waters listed in this section". However, the area described in Section 6 (Patuxent River) is an area where patent tonging has always been allowed. Lines on the natural oyster bar charts also indicate that patent tonging should be allowed here, but that it should be prohibited up stream of this area. The coordinates and text are correct, but that they were placed in the wrong section. Section 6 should have gone into Section B which says "a person may catch oysters by patent tong in the areas listed in this section".

3) Dredge Boat (sail dredge) Areas (COMAR 08.02.04.08) and Power Dredge Areas (COMAR 08.02.04.12). There is overlap of sail dredge and power dredge areas and the Department would like to clarify the areas. There are power dredge areas that are not power dredge-only areas, just areas where power dredging is allowed. All other gears are allowed to be used in those areas. However, the sail dredge regulation says that power dredging is not allowed in areas designated as a sail dredge area. This was not intended and current practice is that if an area is designated as a power dredge area, harvesters are using power dredge gear, even in the overlap with the sail dredge areas. The Department would like to maintain the use of power dredge gear in the areas described as allowing power dredging in the regulation, even in those places that overlap with the sail dredge areas. If this is not fixed there is significantly less power dredge bottom than was intended when the power dredge regulation was adopted. The Department plans to clarify the areas.

4) Dredge Boat (sail dredge) Areas (COMAR 08.02.04.08). When the statutory text was moved into regulation several years ago, the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay was inadvertently omitted from the regulation. The current regulation prohibits sail dredging in the entire mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay. That activity has always been allowed and the Department did not intend to prohibit it. The Department would like to make it clear in regulation that an individual may use a sail dredge in the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay.

If you would like to submit written comment, please email: fisheriespubliccomment.dnr@maryland.gov.

Feedback is due by midnight, February 22, 2016