Massachusetts’ coastal and offshore waters are home to multiple species of sharks, and being able to identify these different species is necessary before going shark fishing. Some species that are commonly targeted by recreational anglers include blue, thresher, porbeagle, and shortfin mako sharks.

Please note that the recreational minimum size limit for shortfin mako caught in federal waters (or by holders of federal permits fishing in state waters) was increased to 83 inches fork length in March 2018. (Fork length is measured in a straight line from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail.) This emergency measure was put into effect in response to an international stock assessment which determined the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring.

MA DMF reminds anglers to immediately release with minimal injury all prohibited shark species such as sandbar ("brown"), dusky, and sand tiger sharks. Tagging sharks does not exempt you from regulations and enforcement actions. If you catch a shark that you’re unable to identify, please remember to follow NOAA’s guidance, "If you don’t know, let it go".

Before shark fishing, be sure to have the proper permits. Fishing in state waters requires only a MA Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit. Fishing in federal waters for sharks requires a NOAA Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Permit with a shark endorsement. To acquire this endorsement, you must first complete a short online shark identification and fishing regulations quiz.

State and federal regulations may differ. Federal regulations apply in state waters for those possessing a federal permit, unless the state regulations are more restrictive, in which case the state regulations apply. Refer to MA DMF for state waters shark regulations and NOAA HMS Office for federal waters shark regulations.