The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is taking public comment and holding a virtual public hearing on draft regulations pertaining to cod, haddock, blue crabs and striped bass. These draft regulations will implement new recreational fishing limits and gear regulations for 2021 and are described in the bullets below:
- Circle Hooks and Striped Bass (322 CMR 6.07). Consistent with recent actions by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, DMF is proposing to amend its existing circle hook rule for striped bass. This rule currently requires that recreational anglers use circle hooks when fishing with whole or cut natural baits for striped bass with exemptions for the for-hire fleet and any baits attached to an artificial lure that are to be trolled, cast, or vertically jigged.
- The proposed amendments would further specify that if a striped bass is caught on any other type of hook other than a circle hooks, which is baited with natural bait, then the fish must be returned to the water immediately and without unnecessary injury.
- Additionally, all but two of the existing exemptions will be rescinded, including the exemption for the for-hire fleet. The two remaining exemptions are for tube and worm fishing and the use of pork rinds. The proposed rule allows for pork rinds to be attached to artificial lures that are rigged with hooks other than circle hooks. It also allows tube and worm fishing to continue provided the lure consists of a minimum of 8” latex or rubber tubing with a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where a bait may be attached; tubes may not be rigged with treble hooks.
- Recreational Gulf of Maine Cod (322 CMR 6.03). Consistent with federal regulations, DMF seeks to adopt the following open seasons, bag limits and minimum sizes for recreational anglers and the for-hire mode:
Mode Open Season Bag Limit Minimum Size Private Angler April 1 – April 14 Sept 15 – Sept 30 1 fish per angler 21 inches For-Hire April 1 – April 14
Sept 8 – Oct 7
1 fish per angler 21 inches
- Recreational Gulf of Maine Haddock (322 CMR 6.03). Consistent with federal regulations, DMF seeks to adopt recreational Gulf of Maine haddock regulations that allow for an open season that spans from April 1 through the last day of February with a 15-fish bag limit and a 17” minimum size.
- Blue Crab Trap Prohibition (322 CMR 6.19). DMF is proposing to prohibit the setting of traps for blue crabs and the retention of any blue crabs caught by trap gear. This does not apply to the use of any open or collapsible trap that is actively tended.
Public Comment Period and Public Hearing Schedule Written public comment will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Friday, March 5, 2021. Please address written comments to Director Daniel McKiernan and submit it by e-mail to email@example.com or by post to the attention of Jared Silva at 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.
DMF has also scheduled a virtual Zoom public hearing for 6PM Tuesday, March 2, 2021. To attend this public hearing, you must register in advance.
All materials, including the strikethrough regulatory language, may be found on DMF’s website or may be acquired by contacting Jared Silva by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Recordings of the public hearings will be published to DMF’s YouTube channel.