Maryland Recreational Crabbing: Licensing, Fees, and Regulations
Overview of Licensing and Fees
In Maryland, recreational crabbing licenses and pot registrations offer 365-day validity from the acquisition date, presenting a range of fees based on residency and other factors:
- Maryland Residents: The fee is $5, offering an affordable entry for locals.
- Non-Residents: A slightly higher fee of $10 applies, reflecting the broader access granted.
- Special Discounts: Maryland residents holding a Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Sport Fishing License, or a Senior Consolidated Sport Fishing License, benefit from a reduced fee of $2.
- Boat Licensing: A Recreational Crabbing Boat License is available for $15, facilitating group crabbing activities.
- Waterfront Property Registration: For those crabbing off their own property, registration of up to two crab pots is free, emphasizing the state's support for personal recreational activities.
Who Needs a License?
Licenses are required for individuals engaging in crabbing using specific gear or targeting quantities beyond casual catch limits:
- Eel Pots and Seines Users: All ages using these methods need a license.
- Trotline: Another method requiring licensing, regardless of the crabber's age.
- For Ages 16 and Over: Collapsible crab traps and net rings necessitate licensing.
- Quantity Limits: Licenses are required for catching more than 24 male hard crabs or more than 12 soft or peeler crabs.
Exemptions and Limitations
Certain conditions allow for crabbing without a license, aimed at fostering recreational fishing while preserving marine life:
- License-Free Gear: Handlines, dip nets, and for those under 16, collapsible crab traps and net rings.
- Assisting License Holders: Individuals assisting licensed crabbers or crabbing from a boat with a valid decal are exempt.
- Catch Limits for Unlicensed Crabbing: Unlicensed crabbers must adhere to limits of 24 male hard crabs and 12 soft or peeler crabs.
Waterfront Property Crab Pot Registration
- Annual Registration: Property owners or tenants can register two crab pots free of charge, simplifying the process and encouraging responsible crabbing.
- Private Shorelines: Registration is not required for crab pots in the Atlantic or its tributaries, but pots must be identifiable by the owner's contact information.
- Ocean and Bay Crabbing: No license is needed for crabbing in these areas, promoting open access to these waters for recreational crabbers.
Recreational Crabbing Boat License
This specialized license, represented by a boat decal, allows all individuals on the licensed boat to crab without individual licenses, using gear typically requiring a separate license. It symbolizes a communal approach to recreational crabbing, enhancing the experience for boat owners and their guests alike. The license purchase grants an individual license for the boat owner for use outside of the boat, ensuring flexibility in crabbing activities.