LAWS and REGULATIONS GOVERNING the TAKING of

BLUE CRABS in MARYLAND

1929 - 1998


Explanation of the Table. The table is composed of three primary columns: the governing action, the years in effect, and its codification number. Beneath the codification number in small print are the citations for each action. Code of Maryland (CoM) statutes are referenced from the annual editions of the Laws of Maryland (Year, Chapter). Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) are cited from the Maryland Register (Vol.:No. MdR Page). Regulations from 1972 - 1975 are referenced as Maryland Agency Rules and Regulations (MARR), the immediate predecessor of COMAR. These, along with the uncodified regulations prior to MARR are cited by number and/or date of adoption, since a publication vehicle such as the Maryland Register did not exist at that time. Immediately below the original governing actions are any regulatory modifications that may have been adopted. Often, existing laws are superceded by regulations, while both laws and regulations can be modified by temporary emergency regulations. Within the framework of this referenced regulatory chronology the table is divided into four broad categories: Time for Harvest, Cull Restrictions, Daily Catch Limits, and Gear Restrictions, which are further subdivided and refined as required.

Symbology: Parenthesis around (years) indicate that the statute may have been adopted prior to that date.

Italicized codification numbers are currently in effect.


Table of Context

  1. Time of Harvest
  2. Cull Restrictions
  3. Daily Catch Limits
  4. Gear Restrictions

Time for Harvest

Days

COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.08
Commercial
Closed Sunday: south of Bay Bridge & tributaries north of bridge outside of pot boundaries 1995 Emer. reg. 22:20 MdR 1538 effective 9/15 - 12/31 1995.
Closed Monday. north of Bay Bridge within pot boundaries Prohibited Sun. or Mon.(1),2 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869
Recreational
Prohibited Mon. - Thur. 1995 22:20 MdR 1538 effective 9/15 - 12/31 1995
Prohibited Wed.(2) 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869

Hours

Commercial

Code of Maryland '4-813
Pots Somer. Co. 1 hr. before sunrise - sunset 1985 - Present 1985, Ch. 708 COMAR Regs. 08.02.03.01B, .05
Scrapes 1 hr. before sunrise - sunset 1972 - Present Adopted 1972 as MARR 8.02.03.08; adopted 1975 as COMAR 08.02.03.01B
Trotlines 3 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1994 - Present 21:6 MdR 466
All other gear 430 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1994 - Present 21:6 MdR 466

Regulatory Modification to COMAR Emergency Regulation
All gear 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. 1995 22:20 MdR 1538 effective 9/15 - 12/31 1995

Recreational

COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.05

From boats(3):
Chesapeake Bay
Sunrise - 5 p.m. 1994 21:6 MdR 466
530 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1995 - Present 21:20 MdR 1731
Tributaries
Sunrise - sunset 1994 21:6 MdR 466
530 a.m. - sunset 1995 - Present 21:20 MdR 1731
From shore: (also structures)
No time restrictions 1994 - Present

Regulatory Modification to COMAR Emergency Regulation
7 a.m. - 5 p.m. 1995 22:20 MdR 1538 effective 9/15 - 12/31 1995

Closed Season

General Code of Maryland '4-808
1 Nov. - 30 Apr. 1906 - 1932 1906, Ch. 148
1 Dec. - 30 Apr. 1933 - 1953 1933, Ch. 371
1 Dec. - 31 Mar. 1954 - 1964 1953, Ch. 760
1 Jan. - 31 Mar. 1965 - Present 1965, Ch. 797

Regulatory Modifications to CoM Reg. 08.02.03.07
1 Nov.(4) - 30 Apr. 1936 - 1947
16 Nov. - 30 Apr. 1948
19 Nov. - 31 Mar. 1995 22:25 MdR 1958
1 Dec. - 31 Mar. 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869

Scraping

MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01B
31 Oct. - 14 Apr. 1972(5) - Present MARR 8.02.03.08 amended 1971; adopted 1975 as COMAR 08.02.03.01B.

Bank Trap, MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01H

Channel Pound
1 Oct. - 31 Mar. 19735 - 1984 MARR 8.02.03.06 amended 1973; adopted 1975 as COMAR 08.02.03.01H.
30 days after end of crabbing - 31 Mar. 1985 - 1987 12:9 MdR 810
1 Dec.(6) - 31 Mar. 1988 - Present Emer. reg. 15:5 MdR 612; adopted permanently 15:15 MdR 1808.

Cull Restrictions

Minimum Size

Code of Maryland '4-809
Hard crab 5 in. 1917 - Present 1917, Ch. 16(7)
Peeler crab 3 in. 1917 - Present 1917, Ch. 16(8)
Soft crab 3 in. 1917 - 1927 1917, Ch. 16(9)
Soft crab 3.5 in. 1927 - Present 1927, Ch. 368
Mature female No min. size 1978 - Present 1978, Ch. 12

Types of Crabs

Code of Maryland/Regulatory Codes
Sponge (egg-bearing) crabs Illegal 1916 - 1982 1916, Ch. 544; Reg. II (8 May 1944); COMAR 2:8 MdR 555
Sponge (egg-bearing) crabs Legal 1983 - 1988 10:4 MdR 315
Sponge (egg-bearing) crabs Illegal 1989 - Present 15:27 MdR 3127
Green, Fat, & Snot crabs Illegal 1917 - 1973 1917, Ch. 167
Buckram crabs Illegal 1927 - 1977 1927, Ch. 368
Fat & snot crabs, green crabs >5" Legal 1974 - Present 1974, Ch.220
All buckram, green crabs Legal 1978 - Present 1978, Ch. 12

Tolerance

Code of Maryland/Regulatory Codes '4-1205
No tolerance (except as in '4-809 below)
-Only illegal crabs confiscated 1927 - 1952 1927, Ch.368
- Entire catch confiscated 1953 - 1974 Reg. IV, abrogated 1975 (2:8 MdR 555).
- Only illegal crabs confiscated 1975 - Present 1973, 1st Sp. Sess. Ch.4
Undersized hard crabs: '4-809
4/bu.; 10/barrel 1965 - 1981 1965, Ch. 256
10/bu.; 25/barrel 1982 - Present 1982, Ch. 369
Undersized peelers:
30/bu.; 60/float 1987 - Present 1987, Ch. 263

Daily Catch Limits

Commercial

No catch limits.

Recreational

Hard Crabs

(Pre-)MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.03

Unlicenced: Reg. X (19 Aug. 1968); adopted in COMAR
per individual
1 bu. 1968 - Present 2:8 MdR 555.
per boat(10)
2 bu. 1984 - Present Amended 11:18 MdR 1583.

Code of Maryland '4-804

Non-commercial license(11)
per license
3 bu. 1979 - 1983 1979, Ch. 405
2 bu. 1984 - 1993 1984, Ch. 670; abrogated 1994, Ch. 184.
2 bu. 1999 1998, Ch. 419; effective 1 Jan. 1999.
per boat
3 bu. 1999 1998, Ch. 419

Peeler Crabs
Unlicensed
1 doz. 1999 1998, Ch. 419
Non-commercial lic.
3 doz. 1999 1998, Ch. 419

Gear Restrictions

Scrapes and Dredges

COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01B

Dredge Restrictions Reg. IX, sec. 2 (1967); MARR 8.02.03.08B
Max. width:
42 in. 1941 - 1976 1941, Ch. 764;
48 in. 1977 - 1982 4:7 MdR 578
60 in. 1983 - Present 10:10 MdR 872
Max. weight:
40 lb. 1972 - 1976 Reg. IX, amendment to sec. 2 (1 Apr. 1972).
45 lb. 1977 - 1982 4:7 MdR 578
Unlimited 1983 - 1995 10:10 MdR 872
45 lb. 1996 22:24 MdR 1894
80 lb. 1997 - Present Emer. reg. 24:9 MdR 653; amended permanently 24:18 MdR 1295

Regulatory Modification to COMAR Emergency Regulation
Unlimited 1996 23:13 MdR 937 (effective 1 June - 31 Oct. 1996)

COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01B
Projections and flat plates attached to the scraping bar & devices to hold dredge to bottom prohibited. 1972 - Present Reg. IX, amendment to sec. 2 (1 Apr. 1972).

Power Dredging

Code of Maryland
Allowed, except areas in Dorchester & Somerset Co. 1941 - 1948 1941, Ch. 764
Allowed, including all Dor. Co., but not areas in Som. Co. 1949 - 1966 1949, Ch. 724
All power restrictions repealed. 1967 - Present 1967, Ch. 486
Number of dredges allowed on powered vessel: 2 1941 - Present 1941, Ch. 764

Restricted Areas

COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01B
Choptank R. & tributaries above Chlora Pt.; Little Choptank R. above McKeil Pt.; St. Mary's R. above Chancellor Pt.; Calvert Bay & Smith Creek above Kitts. Pt.; Leased oyster grounds 1986 - Present 12:26 MdR 2543
Time for Taking
Season:
31 Oct. - 14 Apr. 1972 - Present MARR 8.02.03.08 amended 1971; adopted 1975 as COMAR 08.02.03.01B.
Hours:
1 hr. before sunrise - sunset 1972 - Present MARR 8.02.03.08 amended 1971; adopted 1975 as COMAR 08.02.03.01B

Regulatory Modifications to COMAR Emergency Regulation
6 a.m. - 2 p.m 1995 22:20 MdR 1538 effective 9/15 - 12/31 1995

Trotlines

Maximum Length

Commercial License:

No length restriction

Recreational Unlicensed(12):

Code of Maryland '4-804
300 ft. 1955 - 1983 1955, Ch. 621
500 ft. 1984 - 1993 1984, Ch. 670; abrogated 1994, Ch. 184.
600 ft. 1999 1998, Ch.419; effective 1 Jan. 1999.

COMAR Reg.08.02.03.01D
per individual 1,000 ft. 1994 -1998 21:6 MdR 466
per boat 2,000 ft. 1994 -1998 21:6 MdR 466

Non - Commercial License:
No length restriction 1955 - 1993 1955, Ch. 621; lic. type eliminated 1994, Ch. 184.
1,200 ft. 1999 1998, Ch.419; effective 1 Jan. 1999.

Minimum Separation

Code of Maryland/COMAR '4-804; Reg. 08.02.03.01D Reg. IX, sec. 4 (1967); MARR 8.02.03.08D
Cannot cross 1955 - 1983 1955, Ch. 621
50 ft. 1984 - 1993 1984, Ch. 670; 11:18 MdR 1583
100 ft. 1994 - Present 21:6 MdR 466

Seines

Code of Maryland/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01F Reg. IX, sec. 6 (1967); MARR 8.02.03F

Maximum Length
50 ft. 1947 - Present 1947, Ch. 727; COMAR 2:8 MdR 555

Permitted Areas
Anne Arundel Co. (except Severn R.) 1947 - 1967 1947, Ch. 727
Entire state 1967 - Present Reg. IX, sec. 6; adopted in COMAR 2:8 MdR 555.

Hauling Out
Prohibited on shore. 1947 - Present 1947, Ch. 727; COMAR 2:8 MdR 555

Hand-Drawn Net Scrapes

Code of Maryland/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01G Reg. IX, sec. 7 (1967); MARR 8.02.03G

Permitted Areas
Kent and Queen Anne's Co. only 1941 - Present 1941, Ch. 408

Wire Bank Traps and Channel Pounds

MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01G
Structural Requirements 1971 - Present Amendment to Reg. VII (21 May 1971).

Bank Trap:
Max. length: 4 ft.
Max. width: 4 ft.
Hedging: 75 ft. (single row)

Channel Pound:
Max. length: 8 ft.
Max. width: 4 ft.
Hedging: 100 ft. (two rows)

Both types:
Must allow 12 in. of air space. 1972 - Present Amendment to Reg. VII (1 Apr. 1972).

Number per License Allowed
All permitted areas
4 1963 - 1970 Reg. VII adopted 1 Apr. 1963.
Unlimited 1971 Reg. VII amended 21 May 1971.
4 1972 Reg. VII amended 1 Apr. 1972
Unlimited 1973 - Present MARR Reg. 8.02.03.06 amended June 1973.
St. Mary's Co.
12 1996 - Present 23:8 MdR 602

Separation Distance
All permitted areas 300 ft. 1963 - 1995 Reg. VII adopted 1 Apr. 1963.
St. Mary's Co. 500 ft. 1996 - Present 23:8 MdR 602

Currently Permitted Areas Year Allowed
Smith I. 1960 One year trial expired May 1961.
Smith I., Tangier Sound 1963 Reg. VII adopted 1 Apr. 1963.
Pocomoke S., certain tributaries in Somerset Co. 1971 Reg. VII amended 21 May 1971.
Eastern Neck 1976 3:6 MdR 357
Parts of St. Mary's Co. 1978, 1979 5:7 MdR 521; 6:9 MdR 726
All of Somerset & St. Mary's Co. 1982 9:10 MdR 1019
Code of Maryland 4-815
Prohibited in St. Mary's Co. 2000 1998, Ch. 395, effective 1 Oct. 2000

Other Restrictions - St. Mary's Co.


COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01G
Distance from private beach: 150 ft. 1995 Emer. reg. 22:20 MdR 1538
Distance from private beach: 300 ft. 1996 - 2000 Emer. reg. 23:8 MdR 602; permanently
Distance from a public beach: 1,000 ft. 1996 - 2000 adopted 23:12 MdR 868

Collapsible Crab Trap, Crab Net Ring

MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01I
Structural Requirements 1961 - Present Reg. VIII, adopted 2 Oct. 1961.
Crab Trap: - Manually operated - Bottom 1 sq. ft. max. - Max. 4 sides, ea. 1 sq. ft. max.

Number Allowed

Unlicensed:
per individual
5 1972 - 1993 Reg. VIII amended 1 Apr. 1972.
10 1994 - Present 21:6 MdR 466
per boat
25 1994 - Present 21:6 MdR 466

Licensed:
per license
50 1972 - Present Reg. VIII amended 1 Apr. 1972.

Non-Commercial License:
per license
30 1999 1998, Ch. 419; effective 1 Jan. 1999.

Crab Pots

(Pre-) MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01J

Structural Requirements
Cube Type: Max. length: 24 in. 1943 - Present Reg. I, adopted 2 July 1943.
    Rectangular Type:
      Max. length: 48 in.
      Max. width: 24 in.
      Max. height: 12 in.
1988 - Present 15:18 MdR 2145

Min. Mesh Size:
All crabs: 1 in. 1943 - 1995 Reg. I, adopted 2 July 1943.
Peeler crabs(13): 1 in. 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869
Hard crabs: 1.5 in. 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869

Cull Rings:
Number:
1 1994 - 1995 21:6 MdR 466
2 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869
Size (i.d.):
2.31 in. 1994 - Present 21:6 MdR 466; 23:12 MdR 869
2.19 in. 1996 - Present 23:12 MdR 869

Number Allowed (Pre-)MARR/COMAR
Illegal 1941 - 1942 1941, Ch. 408
35 1943 - 1947 Reg. I, sec. 3; adopted 2 July 1943.
50 1948 - 1958 Reg. I, sec. 3; amended 1 May 1948.
100 1959 - 1971 Reg. I, sec. 3; amended 1 April 1959.
Unlimited(14) 1972 - 1993 Reg. I, sec. 3; amended 1 April 1972.

Code of Maryland'4-814
per individual(15)
300 1994 - Present 1994, Ch. 184
per boat
900 1994 - Present 1994, Ch. 184

Minimum Depth

(Pre-)MARR/COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01J
6 ft. 1943 - 1964 Reg. I, sec. 2; adopted 2 July 1943
4 ft. 1965 - Present Reg. I, sec. 2; amended 16 July 1965.
Tangier, Pocomoke S., Smith I.
2 ft. 1984 - Present 10:20 MdR 1785; 11:1 MdR 41; 12:9 MdR 810

Permitted AreasYear Allowed Reg. 08.02.03.01J
Chesapeake Bay, Potomac R. 1943 Reg. I, sec. 2; adopted 2 July 1943.
Pocomoke, Tangier Sounds 1948 Reg. I, sec. 2a, 2b; adopted 1 May 1948.
Lower Breton & St. Clements Bays, Lower Wicomico R. 1965 Reg. I, sec. 4, 5; adopted 16 July 1965.
St. Catherine Sound, Lower St. Mary's R. 1969 Reg. I, sec. 8, 9; adopted 17 Apr. 1969.
Calvert Bay 1978 5:7 MdR 521
Charles Co. Potomac shore: Smith Pt. to Liverpool Pt. 1982 9:20 MdR 1980
Somerset Co.: Kedges & Holland Straits 1982, 1983 9:18 MdR 1800; 10:6 MdR 554

Restricted Areas Year Restricted Reg. 08.02.03.01J
All tributaries and other bodies of water shoreward of lines defining crabbing areas in Chesapeake B. & Potomac R. 1943 Reg. I, sec. 2; adopted 2 July 1943.
Little Annemessex R. 1954 Reg. VI, adopted 22 June 1954.
Certain river & entrance channels 1977(16) & after 4:7 MdR 578; 7:5 MdR 473; 9:10 MdR 1019; 9:16 MdR 1602; 10: MdR 724; 12:9 MdR 810; 17:7 MdR 847; 19:18 MdR 1655; 21:11 MdR 950
Manokin, Big Annemessex R. 1982 9:18 MdR 1800
Dorchester Co.: Holland Str., Tangier S. 1983 1983, Ch. 329; 10:6 MdR 554
Pocomoke R. 1985 12:9 MdR 810
Bathing Beaches (1May - 30 Sep.):
Public - within 200 yd.:
No shore length limit 1965 - 1974 Reg. I, sec. 7; adopted 16 July 1965.
Shore no longer than 100 yd. 1975 - Present 2:8 MdR 555
Private - within 100 yd.:
Shore no longer than 100 yd. 1965 - 1974 Reg. I, sec. 7; adopted 16 July 1965.
Unrestricted 1975 - Present 2:8 MdR 555

Private Property - Recreational

Code of Maryland '4-811

County Permitted: Year Allowed
Charles 1972 1972, Ch. 314
Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Worcester, Calvert, St. Mary's 1974 1974, Ch. 364
Somerset, Wicomico 1980 1980, Ch. 124
Does not apply to Potomac R. 1972 - Present 1972, Ch. 314

Regulatory Modification to CoM Reg. 08.02.03.01J
Allowed anywhere in Maryland 1967 - Present Reg. IX, adopted 8 June 1967.

Code of Maryland '4-811
Number Allowed: 4 1972 - Present 1972, Ch. 314

Regulatory Modification to CoM Reg. 08.02.03.01J

Number Allowed:
1 1967 - 1971 Reg. IX, adopted 8 June 1967.
2 1972 - Present Reg. IX amended 1 Apr. 1972; COMAR effective 24 Mar. 1975 (2:8 MdR 555).

Days Allowed (In Season):
Fri. - Sun., state & fed. holidays 1967 - 1971 Reg. IX, adopted 8 June 1967.
Any day of week 1972 - Present Reg. IX amended 1 Apr. 1972; COMAR effective 24 Mar. 1975 (2:8 MdR 555).

Diving

COMAR Reg. 08.02.03.01K
Prohibited for catching crabs or setting gear. 1983 - Present Emer. regs. 10:9 MdR 788, 10:11 MdR 962; adopted permanently 10:13 MdR 1179.

1. 1 Intent to crab on one of these days must be declared; otherwise, crabbing prohibited both days. An alternate closed day may be granted under certain circumstances.

2. 2 Commercial and recreational crabbing allowed on closed day if on a state or federal holiday or the day preceding one.

3. 3 No time restrictions on handlines and dipnets from boats after 1994 (21:20 MdR 1731).

4. 4 Reg. authority to close Nov. granted for 1936 by Sp. Sess. Ch. 137; renewed permanently in 1937, Ch. 280.

5. 5 Previously, season was as for other gear types.

6. 6 All traces of trap or pound must be removed 30 days after completion of crabbing or the last day of the season, whichever is earlier (9:10 MdR 1019, effective 1982).

7. 7 The 1917 legislation adopted on a statewide basis the laws for Somerset Co. passed the previous year (1916, Ch.419).

8. 8 The 1917 legislation adopted on a statewide basis the laws for Somerset Co. passed the previous year (1916, Ch.419).

9. 9 The 1917 legislation adopted on a statewide basis the laws for Somerset Co. passed the previous year (1916, Ch.419).

10. 10 If two or more individuals are crabbing from the boat.

11. 11 Sports Crabber' s License created in 1979, Ch. 405; superceded by Tidal Fish License in 1983, Ch. 579. These allowed the use of trotlines over a certain length (300 ft. before 1984, 500 ft. in 1984, 600 ft. - 1,200 ft. in 1999).

12. 12 The maximum trotline length was per individual with no limits for boats. Non-residents of Maryland were restricted to unlicensed status until 1983, Ch. 579 .

13. 13 To catch peeler crabs the pot must be baited with live adult male crabs provided with food (23:12 MdR 466).

14. 14 Unlimited number of licenses may be purchased by an individual; each license allows the use of 100 pots.

15. 15 ' 4-701 defines two types of licenses allowing up to 50 pots and over 50 pots.

16. 16 Prior to 1977, when several entrance channels were designated, only one entrance channel (Middle R., 1943) and one other navigation channel (St.Catherine Sound, 1969) were specifically prohibited to crab pots.


  • Back to the Main Commercial Fishery Landings Menu
  • Back to Maryland's Commercial Blue Crab Annual Landings page