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Sharks, Clamming and Oysters

Sharks are managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the regulations are complex. For more detailed information contact the NMFS or visit State regulations are subject to any changes in federal regulations. Please consult for the latest changes in state regulations. See 2013 Seasons, Size and Creel Limits for more information on shark seasons, sizes, and daily limits.

Common Delaware Sharks

The sand tiger, sandbar, smooth dogfish and spiny dogfish are the most commonly caught shark species in Delaware. Sandbar and sand tiger sharks are of special significance to the Delaware Estuary and its anglers. Delaware Bay is an important “pupping area” and nursery for sand tiger sharks, and they are commonly hooked. Due to their low reproductive rate and overfishing, both species are protected and none may be retained. No hook and line fisherman may remove from the water any sandbar shark, or any other prohibited species of shark. In addition, any sandbar shark or other prohibited species of shark must be immediately released in a manner that will ensure the maxium probabiltiy of survival.

Sand Tiger Shark (prohibited species) – Sand tigers are gray-brown to tan with dark splotches and lengths to 10.5 ft. First and second dorsal fins are nearly equal in size. Teeth are long, curved and not serrated.

Sandbar Sharks (prohibited species) – Sandbar sharks are dark gray to brown on back, fading almost to white on the belly. This heavy-bodied shark has broad and triangular teeth with a large first dorsal fin that begins at a point located at the middle of the pectoral fin. Upper teeth are broad and triangular. Recent research has shown that large sandbar sharks are susceptible to internal injuries from deep hooking. When releasing sandbar sharks, do not remove these sharks from the water to prevent internal injuries.

Spiny Dogfish (no recreational limit) – The spiny dogfish is easily identified by a thorny spine located at the leading edge of both the first and second dorsal fins. Teeth are small and bent toward corners of mouth. It is commonly caught in cold water by anglers targeting mackerel or striped bass.

Smooth Dogfish (no recreational limit) – This is the most common shark found in Delaware. Smooth dogfish are typically caught during the warmer seasons. The smooth dogfish, known locally as the sand shark, is a harmless species. Teeth are low and flat with plate-like arrangement. Gray to gray-brown and ranging up to 5 feet in length, this shark has large first and second dorsal fins, with “sandpaper-like” teeth.



A fishing license is required to harvest clams in waters of the State of Delaware.

It shall be unlawful for any person to attempt to take, catch, kill or reduce to possession any hard clams with a device other than a hand-held rake with a head no wider than fourteen (14) inches measured perpendicular to the tines and a straight handle not in excess of seven (7) feet in length.

It is unlawful to harvest hard clams from one-half hour after sunset through one-half hour before sunrise.

It is unlawful for any resident to harvest more than one hundred (100) clams per day unless otherwise permitted to do so by license or permit.

It is unlawful for any non-resident to harvest more than fifty (50) hard clams per day unless otherwise permitted to do so by license or permit.

No shellfish harvesting (excluding crabs) is allowed in the Prohibited Areas marked on the Clamming Map or any tidal river, stream, or impoundment of the state. This includes all non-tidal and impounded water as well. Shellfish harvesting is allowed from December 1 through April 15 in the Seasonally Approved Areas. This is your protection against contracting shellfish-borne diseases. This is also the law. All boundaries may be marked with signs and or buoys saying “No Shellfish Harvesting” or “Prohibited Shellfish Area”. Questions regarding these closures should be directed to the Watershed Assessment Section Shellfish and Recreational Waters Programs 302-739-9939. Clamming is prohibited in eel grass beds marked with white PVC pipes and signs.




It is unlawful to recreationally harvest oysters in Delaware. This prohibition protects vulnerable oyster populations and protects you against contracting a shellfish-borne disease.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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