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 nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/permits_reporting/ to obtain a permit/Shark Endorsement.

Passengers fishing on the vessel who do not possess an 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 by vessel owners 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. For information on obtaining tags, call the department at 410-213-1531.

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 dropbox)
  • 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.

Gear Restrictions

Anglers may use only handlines or rod and reel.

New Requirements for Recreational and Commercial Shark Fishing 2018




Shark Species Approved for Recreational Harvest*


fork length

Daily Creel Shore*

(per angler)

Daily Creel Vessel*

(per trip)

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark

Bonnethead Shark

Smooth Dogfish**

Open Year Round None Each recreational shore angler is allowed a maximum of 1 shark per calendar day from this list of approved species.

In addition, each recreational shore angler may harvest 1 of each of the following species per calendar day:

1. bonnethead

2. Atlantic
sharpnose shark

3. smooth dogfish

Each recreational vessel is allowed a maximum of 1 shark per trip from this list of approved species.

In addition, each recreational anglerl may harvest 1 of each of the following species per trip:

1. bonnethead

2. Atlantic
sharpnose shark

3. smooth dogfish

Blacknose Shark

Blue Shark

Common Thresher Shark

Finetooth Shark

Oceanic Whitetip Shark

Porbeagle Shark

Shortfin Mako Shark***

Open Year Round 54 inches
Blacktip Shark

Bull Shark

Lemon Shark

Nurse Shark

Spinner Shark

Tiger Shark

Open Year Round Except

May 15–July 15

54 inches
great, Scalloped, and smooth Hammerhead Sharks Open Year Round Except May 15–July 15 78 inches
Spiny Dogfish Open Year Round None None None
*Sharks that are transported by vessel are considered boat assisted, and regulated under the more restrictive vessel-fishing possession limits regardless of where they were caught. All species not listed in the above table, including sandbar and dusky sharks, are prohibited and must be released.

** Subject to change in 2018. Refer to online regulations for updates — eregulations.com/maryland/fishing/
***Federal waters have an 83″ fork length minimum size, HMS permit holders must follow the most restrictive rule

Roundscale spearfish look very similar to white marlin

For more information on identification of swordfish and billfish, please go to:




Tilefish are caught in federal waters but landed in Maryland. An angler must follow the more restrictive of either the federal possession limit or the state daily catch/possession limit, which will vary depending on the species of tilefish and the type of vessel which is being used.