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. Anglers holding state saltwater licenses from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or U.S. Virgin Islands are required to register.

To register, go to countmyfish.noaa.gov/register.

Landing Requirements

All recreationally landed bluefin tuna, billfish (marlin, sailfish, swordfish and roundscale spearfish), 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

Visit dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/pages/coastal/billfish.aspx to learn more about the various billfishes of Maryland.

It is Illegal

  • For an angler to sell, barter, or trade sharks or shark parts.
  • For an angler to engage in shark finning. All sharks caught by an angler must have heads, tails and fins attached naturally to the carcass through landing.
  • To fillet sharks at sea.
  • 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.
  • Shark regulations may be subject to change in 2019.

Gear Restrictions

Anglers may use only handlines or rod and reel. Circle hooks are required in federal waters.

Shark Identification “If you don’t know, Let it go”