Highly Migratory Species
Federal Highly Migratory Species PermitsTo recreationally fish in federal waters for any authorized Atlantic tunas, billfishes, swordfish and sharks (except spiny dogfish), and within the state waters for tunas, vessel owners must have a valid federal fishing permit for their vessel. A shark endorsement is needed to fish for sharks recreationally in federal waters. 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 RequirementsAll landings of bluefin tuna, billfishes, swordfish and sharks must be reported using the Maryland Catch Card Census. Anglers must complete a catch card and exchange it for a tag to be placed around the tail before moving it from the vessel. Sharks caught from shore must be tagged before moving 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)
- 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
- 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 RestrictionsAnglers 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.
Shark Rules (See the table for species, sizes, and seasons)If you can’t or aren’t going to keep a shark:
- You must immediately release it in the water
- Sit on it
- Hold its mouth open
- Put it on dry sand
- Put it on a boat deck
- Use a gaff
- Don’t place hands in the gills
- Minimize fight times by using the appropriate gear
- Know how to identify them, “If you don’t know let it go”
- Have a release plan and make sure everyone knows their role
- Cut the line, minimize trailing gear or use a dehooker