Highly Migratory Species

Fishing Regulations Icon Maryland Fishing

Federal Highly Migratory Species Permits

Waters three to 200 miles offshore of state coastlines constitute the Exclusive Economic Zone and fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. If you are fishing in these waters for species such as sharks, tuna, marlin, swordfish or sailfish, the vessel owner must hold a highly migratory species permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Call 888-872-8862 or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov/ to obtain a permit/shark endorsement.

Passengers fishing on the vessel who do not possess a highly migratory species permit or have a state saltwater fishing license must register with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Saltwater Angler registry.

To register, go to st.nmfs.noaa.gov/nnri/.

Landing Requirements

From September 30, 2020, through December 31, 2020, NOAA Fisheries is requiring catch-and-release fishing only for Atlantic blue marlin, white marlin, and roundscale spearfish in all areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

All recreationally landed bluefin tuna, sailfish and swordfish, and sharks (except spiny dogfish) must be tagged before being removed from the boat and reported to a reporting station.

A tag is provided for each completed catch card and the angler is required to place this tag around the tail of the fish before removing it from the vessel. Sharks caught from shore must be tagged before removal from the point of landing. Boats cannot be pulled from the water until the tag is in place.

Catch cards and tags are available at the following reporting stations:

  • Alltackle, Ocean City (shark tags only)
  • Asseteague Island National Seashore, Berlin (shark kiosk only)
  • Atlantic Tackle, Ocean City
  • Bahia Marina, Ocean City
  • Buck’s Place, Berlin (shark tags only)
  • Department of Natural Resources/Natural Resources Police, Col. Jack Taylor Boathouse, Ocean City (after hours kiosk)
  • Fisherman’s Marina, Ocean City
  • Ocean City Fishing Center, Ocean City
  • Ocean Pines Marina, Ocean Pines
  • Pines Point Provisions and Seafood, Ocean Pines
  • Sunset Marina, Ocean City
  • Talbot Street Pier and Marina, Ocean City
  • White Marlin Marina, Ocean City
  • Catch cards can also be downloaded at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/pages/coastal/tagging.aspx

It is Illegal

  • To sell, barter, or trade sharks or shark parts.
  • To engage in shark finning.
  • To fillet sharks at sea. All sharks caught by an angler must have heads, tails, and fins attached naturally to the carcass through landing.
  • For a highly migratory species angling, charter/headboat, and general category (if participating in a registered Atlantic highly migratory species tournament) permit holder to possess hammerhead sharks or oceanic whitetip sharks simultaneously with billfish, tunas, or swordfish.

Gear Restrictions

Anglers may use only handlines or rod and reel and must use corrodible, non-stainless circle hooks except when fishing with artificial flies/lures. You must have a device with you that is capable of quickly cutting either the leader or the hook.