Shark Fishing Regulations: A Comprehensive Guide

Recreational Harvest of Approved Shark Species

Approved Species and General Rules

Recreational fishing for sharks encompasses specific species with designated seasons, size requirements, and daily limits. These regulations ensure sustainable shark populations and are critical for both shore and vessel anglers.

Year-Round Open Season Species

Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks

  • Minimum Fork Length: No minimum size requirement.
  • Shore Fishing Limits:
    • Each shore angler is allowed one shark per calendar day from the approved list.
    • Additionally, one Bonnethead and one Atlantic Sharpnose shark per angler per day.
  • Vessel Fishing Limits:
    • A maximum of one shark from the approved list per trip.
    • Furthermore, each angler on a vessel can harvest one Bonnethead and one Atlantic Sharpnose shark per trip.

Additional Species with Size Requirements

  • Species: Blacknose, Blue, Common Thresher, Finetooth, and Porbeagle Sharks.
  • Minimum Fork Length: 54 inches.
  • Fishing Limits: Same as for Atlantic Sharpnose and Bonnethead sharks, adjusted for species-specific size requirements.

Seasonally Restricted Species

Blacktip, Bull, Lemon, Nurse, Spinner, and Tiger Sharks

  • Open Season: Year-round, with a closure from May 15 to July 15.
  • Minimum Fork Length: 54 inches.

Great, Scalloped, and Smooth Hammerhead Sharks

  • Open Season: Year-round, excluding May 15 to July 15.
  • Minimum Fork Length: 78 inches.

Species Without Size or Creel Limits

Smooth Dogfish and Spiny Dogfish

  • Regulations: Open year-round with no minimum size or daily creel limits. These species are managed to allow for sustainable fishing practices without the need for size or catch limits.

Important Considerations for All Anglers

  • Vessel Transport Rules: Sharks transported by vessel fall under vessel fishing possession limits, irrespective of the catch location. This rule aims to standardize regulations and ensure compliance.
  • Protected Species: All sharks not listed, including sandbar, dusky, and shortfin mako sharks, must be released immediately. This protection helps conserve vulnerable species and maintain ecological balance.

Ethical Shark Handling and Release Guidelines

Immediate Release Requirements

If retaining a shark isn't in your plans or not permissible based on regulations:

  • Mandatory Action: The shark must be released back into the water without delay.

Prohibited Actions When Releasing Sharks

When releasing a shark, certain actions are strictly forbidden to ensure the animal's well-being:

  • Restrictions Include:
    • Do not sit on the shark.
    • Avoid holding its mouth open.
    • Refrain from placing it on dry sand.
    • Do not put it on a boat deck.
    • Using a gaff for handling or landing the shark is prohibited.

Maximizing Survival Chances

To significantly enhance the survival prospects of a released shark, adhere to these practices:

  • Handling Care:
    • Avoid inserting hands in the shark’s gills, a sensitive area prone to injury.
  • Fighting Time:
    • Reduce the duration of the fight by employing suitable gear, minimizing stress and exhaustion on the shark.
  • Identification:
    • Familiarize yourself with shark species; if uncertain about the species, opt to release the shark (“If you don’t know, let it go”).
  • Release Preparedness:
    • Devise a release plan and ensure all participants are aware of their roles, streamlining the release process to reduce the shark's time out of water.
  • Gear Management:
    • Opt to cut the line as close to the hook as possible to minimize trailing gear. Consider the use of a dehooker for safer, more efficient hook removal.

Shark Identification “IF YOU DON’T KNOW, LET IT GO"

    GOMaryland Shark Fishing Regulations

    Maryland Shark Fishing Regulations

    Maryland manages 41 species of coastal sharks, including spiny dogfish.

    Shark management is a joint effort of the State of Maryland, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

    Learn to identify sharks with this placard

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    The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.