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Welcome Letter

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Massachusetts welcomes you to some of the finest saltwater recreational fishing in the United States

This Recreational Fishing Guide was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) to help expand your enjoyment of the Commonwealth’s recreational fishing experience. It includes information for marine finfish, lobster and crab, plus an extensive listing of the state’s public boat ramps, bait & tackle shops, and charterboat and headboat operations. It also includes information about how to handle your catch and it encourages responsible fishing practices.

Our commitment to achieving sustainable fisheries and a healthy marine ecosystem is supported by dedicating your saltwater fishing permit fees to improve public access to our resources and to build programs that advance management of our fisheries. During 2012, over 150,000 recreational fishing permits were issued, including roughly 900 to for-hire businesses. About 85% were issued to residents of the Commonwealth and a quarter was issued to seniors free of the $10 permit fee.

The Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund, a dedicated fund created for the special purpose of retaining recreational permit fees, peaked this past year at $1.5 million. Working with the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel, a five-member citizen’s advisory board, MarineFisheries spent about one-third of permit fee money that was legislatively appropriated in 2012 to build a sport fishing pier on the Bass River in Yarmouth. The remaining amount was spent to increase distribution of informational and educational materials to the fishing public, improve communication between anglers and the Division, and perform additional monitoring and enhancement of diadromous fish stocks (such as river herring and shad). The 2013 spending plan for roughly $800,000 will continue to support these programmatic activities, plus the construction of a new sport fishing pier in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard; expanded sampling of the recreational fishery to improve data used to assess stock conditions and regulate harvest; and completion of two studies on the Commonwealth’s flagship recreational species, striped bass.

Supplementing the revenue from your saltwater recreational fishing permit fees, funding for this guide and much of MarineFisheries’ Recreational Fisheries Program is provided by one of the most effective “user-pays, user-benefits” programs in the nation – The Sport Fish Restoration Act – where anglers and boaters provide vital financial support for state fisheries management, boating access, and other related programs.

We hope this year’s guide will be a useful addition to your tackle box. Please enjoy and respect the richness of our marine resources.

Best Regards,


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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