Finfish Commercial Regulations Table
Updated as of October 10, 2013
|Species||Fishery||Season (Open - Close)||Size Limit||Possession Limit|
|American Eel (1)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||6 in||No Limit|
|Black Sea Bass (2)||Weirs||Jan 01 - Dec 31||12 in||See note #2|
|All Gears Except Weirs||Jan 01 Mar 31||12 in||100 lb|
|All Gears Except Weirs||Apr 01 - Aug 05||N/A||0 lb|
|Fish Pots||Aug 06- Sep 11||12 in||300 lb|
|Hook & Line||Aug 06- Sep 11||12 in||150 lb|
|Mobile Gear||Aug 06- Sep 11||12 in||150 lb|
|Bluefish||All||Jan 01 - Quota Dep.||No Limit||5,000 lb|
|Cod (3)||North of Cape Cod||Jan 01 - Dec 31||19 in||800 lb|
|East & South of Cape Cod||Jan 01 - Dec 31||19 in||1,000 lb|
|Dab (Plaice) (3)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||12 in||No Limit|
|Fluke (4)||P1: Nets||Jan 01 - Jan 31||14 in||w/o LOA: Prohibited|
|P1: Nets||Feb 01 - Apr 22||14 in||w/o LOA: 500 lb|
|P1: Nets||Jan 01 - Apr 22||14 in||w/ LOA: 1,000 lb per week|
|P2: Nets||Apr 23 - Jun 9||14 in||100 lb|
|P2: Longlines||Apr 23 - Jun 9||14 in||100 lb|
|P2: Handlines or Rod & Reel||Apr 23 - Jun 9||14 in||Prohibited|
|P2: Nets||Jun 10 - Aug 22||14 in||300 lb|
|P2: Longlines||Jun 10 - Aug 22||14 in||200 lb|
|P2: Handlines or Rod & Reel||Jun 10 - Aug 22||14 in||200 lb|
|Haddock (3)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||16 in||No Limit|
|Illex Squid||All||Jan 01 - Quota Dep.||No Limit||No Limit|
|Longfin Squid (5)||All||Jan 01 - Apr 30||No Limit||No Limit|
|All||May 1 - Jul 9||No Limit||No Limit|
|All||Jul 10 - Aug 31||No Limit||No Limit|
|All||Sep 01 - Quota Dep.||No Limit||No Limit|
|Menhaden (11)||Open Access||Jan 01 - Quota Dep.||No Limit||6,000 lb|
|LOA||Jan 01 - Quota Dep.||No Limit||6,000 lb|
|Monkfish (6)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||17 in||536 lb tails, 1,560 lb whole|
|Pollock (3)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||19 in||No Limit|
|Redfish (3)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||7 in||No Limit|
|Scup (7)||Winter I||Jan 01 - Apr 30||9 in||TBD|
|Fish Weir||May 01 - Quota Dep.||9 in||No Limit|
|Trawlers||Oct 11 -Oct 31||9 in||2,500 lb|
|Non-Trawl||May 01 - May 31||9 in||800 lb|
|Non-Trawl||Jun 01 - Jun 30||9 in||400 lb|
|Non-Trawl||Oct 11 - Oct 31||9 in||2,500 lb|
|Winter II||Nov 01 - Quota Dep.||9 in||8,000 lb|
|Smelt||Hook & Line Only||Jun 16 - Mar 14||No Limit||50 fish|
|Smooth Dogfish||All But Longlines||Jan 01 - Dec 31||No Limit||100 lb|
|Spiny Dogfish||All||May 01 - Quota Dep.||No Limit||4,000 lb|
|Striped Bass (8)||Sunday||July 14 - Aug 06||34 in||5 fish|
|Tues, Wed, Thur||July 14 - Aug 06||34 in||30 fish|
|Tautog (10)||All||Apr 16 - May 5||16 in||40 fish|
|All||Sep 01 - Quota Dep.||16 in||40 fish|
|Weakfish||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||16 in||100 lb|
|Winter Flounder (9)||Gulf of Maine||Jan 01 - Dec 31||12 in||500 lb|
|Southern New England||Jan 01 - Dec 31||12 in||50 lb|
|Witch Flounder (3)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||13 in||1,000 lb|
|Yellowtail Flounder (3)||All||Jan 01 - Dec 31||12 in||250 lb|
1) Subject to regulation by the Division and local community. Consult local regulations.
2) All fish weirs combined are subject to a quota of 10,000 lbs during the year. From August 6 until the annual quota has been met, all gear types are prohibited from landing and/or possessing black sea bass on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Black sea bass are measured from the tip of the snout or jaw (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail, not including the tail filament.
3) Groundfish species regulated under the federal Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan are subject to area and season specific groundfish closures in both state and federal waters. It is illegal to harvest cod from a portion of Massachusetts Bay (Winter Cod Conservation Zone ) between November 15 and January 31 and in the Spring Cod Conservation Zone between April 16 and July 21.
4) The fluke limit is 500 lbs for nets during Period I from February 1 until 25% of the annual quota is reached, at which point the possession limit will be dropped to 100 lbs. During the squid season (April 23 – June 9), the fluke limit taken by nets will be 100 lbs. It is illegal to land or possess fluke between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM. During the Period 2 fishery (June 10 - Closure), it is unlawful for any commercial fisherman to possess or land summer flounder on Fridays or Saturdays.
5) A 2,500 lb trip limit may be implemented if 80% of a trimester’s allocation is landed. From April 22 – June 10 trawlers may use small mesh to fish for squid in state-waters.
6) The minimum size for monkfish is 17" total length or 11" inches for tails
7) All fish weirs combined are subject to a quota of 275,000 lbs during the year. From May 1 - May 31 and from July 1 until the annual quota is reached, commercial pot and hook & line fishermen are prohibited from landing and/or possessing scup on Fridays and Saturdays. From June 1 - June 30, commercial pot and hook & line fishermen are prohibited from landing and/or possessing scup on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. From June 10 until the annual quota is reached, mobile gear fishermen are prohibited from landing and/or possessing scup on Fridays and Saturdays. Note: MarineFisheries has eliminated the closed fishing days of Friday and Saturday for all gear types for the period October 11 to October 31.
8) Commercial fishermen may fish for striped bass only on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday within the commercial season. Striped bass May be taken by hook and line only; spearing, netting, snagging are prohibited. Note: Permitted party/charter vessel operators may fillet striped bass for their customers. See 322 CMR 6.07 (4)(g) for details.
9) Winter flounder can not be taken inside the spawning closure area or the inshore net areas between Feb 1 and May 31. It is unlawful for commercial fishermen to take winter flounder from Mount Hope Bay and its tributaries
10) The spring tautog season runs from April 16 to May 15 or until 28% of the quota is harvested. The winter tautog season runs from September 1 to November 30 or until 100% of the quota is harvested.
11) Possession limit is 6,000 lb in the open access fishery until 100% of the quota is landed. For permit holders with a Letter of Authorization, the possession/landing limit is unlimited until 50% of the quota is landed; from the time when 50% of the quota is landed until 85% of the quota is landed, the possession/landing limit is 200,000 lbs; once 85% of the quota is landed the possession/landing limit will drop to 6,000 lbs.
Finfish - Definitions
Fishing with handline or rod, with naturally or artificially baited hook.
The time when fish cannot be lawfully taken.
"Coastal Waters" (Waters under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts):
Include all of Mass. Bay, Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound, the waters within the rise and fall of the tide and extends three miles offshore from an established baseline. It does not include the waters within or above any fishladder or dam, nor the waters above any tidal bound legally established by DEP in streams flowing into the sea.
For quota-monitored fisheries, closing date(s) are dependent upon the fulfillment of either the state or coast-wide quotas. Click here to view current landings of all quota-monitored species.
Snagging, Snatching or Hooking:
The taking of fish not attracted by bait or artificial lure with hooks, gangs, or lures, whether baited or unbaited, in manner so as to pierce and hook a fish in any part of the body other than the mouth.
The verb To Fish in all of its moods and tenses is to take or attempt to take fish by any means, whether or not such method or means results in their capture.
Weir, Pound Nets or Fish Traps may be set by a person.possessing written authorization to do so from the aldermen, city.council or selectmen in the community of use, and also the written.approval of the director of Marine Fisheries and DEP, subject to.such conditions as they may impose. Such weirs, traps or pound nets must be conspicuously marked in an approved manner.
Portions of Streams flowing into coastal waters may be closed.during spawning season for the purpose of protecting smelt and.their spawn. Notices of such closings are posted on or near such.closed areas giving the bounds thereof.
Finfish - Prohibitions
Trawling, Gillnetting, Seining, Torching and other fishing methods are illegal in certain areas at certain times of the year. Specific laws and regulations are available from the Division of Marine Fisheries, Boston.
Snagging, Snatching or Hooking of anadromous fish: including shad, smelt, white perch, striped bass, trout and salmon, but excluding alewives or river herring is strictly prohibited.
The taking of Sturgeon, Atlantic Salmon, all marine mammals, all sea turtles and the Diamond Black Terrapin is prohibited.
The sale of Billfish (except Swordfish) landed in Massachusetts is prohibited.
No vessel (except purse seiners) over 90' registered length may fish in MA waters. Maximum vessel size is 72' length overall for draggers & scallopers.
Vessels using nets may not fish in coastal waters with disks, rollers, or rockhoppers greater than 12" in diameter.
Mobile gear fishing in coastal waters at night is prohibited.
Lobsters & Crabs Commercial Regulations Table
|Species||Closed Season||LCMA||Min Size||Max Size||V-Notch Poss.||Poss. Limit|
|Edible Crabs||Jan 1 - Apr 30||All||--||--||--||--|
|Blue Crabs (1)||Jan 1 - Apr 30||All||5"||--||--||25 crabs/day|
|Lobsters (2) *||--||1||3 1/4"||5"||zero tolerance||--|
|2||3 3/8"||5 1/4"||1/8"||--|
|3||3 17/32"||6 3/4"||1/8"||--|
|OCC||3 3/8"||-- **||1/4" **||--|
* Lobstermen permitted to fish in more than one LCMA must adhere to the most restrictive standards pertaining to minimum size, maximum size and v-notch possession standards of their permitted LCMAs.
** Federal permit holders must abide by the more restrictive federal rules of a 6 3/4 inch max gauge size and 1/8 inch with or w/out setal hairs v-notch definition.
1) Blue Crabs are measured across the shell from tip to tip of the posterior-most, longest spines along the lateral margins of the carapace.
2) Carapace length measured from rear of eye socket parallel to the center line of the bodyshell to the rear of the bodyshell. All lobsters measuring less than the minimum legal carapace length must be returned to the waters from which taken. All lobsters must be measured immediately.
Lobstering - Definitions
Closed Season: the time during which fish cannot be lawfully taken.
Crustacea: all lobster, crabs, and shrimp.
Edible Crab: any crab other than the green crab.
Blue Crab: a marine crustacean of the species, Callinectes sapidus.
Green Crab: a marine crustacean of the species, Carcinus meanus.
Lobster: the common American Lobster of the species, Homarus americanus.
V-notched female lobster: means any female lobster bearing a v-shaped notch in the right flipper adjacent to the middle flipper or any female lobster which is mutilated in a manner which could hide, obscure, or obliterate such a mark. The right flipper will be examined when the underside of the lobster is down and its tail is toward the person making the determination. See area-specific v-notch definitions below:
V-shaped notch (definition for LCMA 1 and Gulf of Maine Recreational Lobster Area): It is unlawful for any commercial fisherman fishing or authorized to fish in LCMA 1 or non-commercial fishermen fishing in the Gulf of Maine Recreational Lobster Area to possess any female lobster bearing a v-shaped notch of any size with or without setal hairs.
V-shaped notch (definition for LCMAs 2,3,4,5,6 and Southern New England Rec Lobster Area): It is unlawful for any commercial fisherman fishing or authorized to fish in LCMAs 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 as defined in 322 CMR 6.33, or non-commercial fishermen fishing in the Southern New England Recreational Lobster Area to possess any female lobster bearing a notch or indentation in the base of the flipper that is at least as deep as 1/8 inch, with or without setal hairs.
V-shaped notch (LCMA OCC and OCC Recreational Lobster Area): It is unlawful for any commercial fisherman fishing or authorized to fish in the Outer Cape Cod LCMA or any non-commercial fisherman fishing in the Outer Cape Cod Recreational Lobster Area as defined in 322 CMR 6.33 to possess any female lobster that bears a notch or indentation in the base of the flipper that is at least as deep as 1/4 inch and tapering to a sharp point without setal hairs.
Lobster/Crabs - Permits
A lobster/crab permit is required of all persons to fish for lobster and edible crabs in coastal waters. To sell lobster and crabs, a commercial lobster/crab permit is required. However, no permit is required to take edible crabs for use by immediate family, provided that the number of crabs does not exceed fifty (50) in one day and that no pots or traps are used.
Minors under seventeen (17) years of age must have the written consent of a parent or guardian to obtain a lobster permit.
Non-residents of Massachusetts, who own in excess of $5,000 in Massachusetts real-estate and who will seasonally reside in a Massachusetts coastal town, may obtain a non-commercial lobster permit to take lobsters and edible crabs from June through September for consumption only by licensee and family.
Trip-Level or Annual Catch Reports are required of some licenses. These forms are provided by the Division of Marine Fisheries. Renewal licenses will not be issued until a catch report has been filed.
Lobster - Gears
Wooden lobster buoys may not be used.
All buoys and traps must be marked with licensee's Permit ID #. Non-commercial lobstermen shall also add the letter "N" prior to the last 5 digits of their Customer ID number, located in the upper right hand corner of the permit. The letter and permit numbers shall be at least 1/2" high x 1/8" thick. Buoys must be painted with licensee's approved color scheme. All lobster pots must have an official trap tag attached to the central bridge or cross member.
Before any buoy, pot, trap or lobster car is sold, transferred or given away, the owner must burn or cut the letter "T" after his old permit#. The new owner shall than burn or cut his permit# on the buoy, trap or lobster car.
All pots or traps used for the taking of lobsters in the coastal waters of the Commonwealth shall contain either a rectangular escape vent or two circular escape vents in the parlor section(s). The parlor section is the non-baited section of the pot from which lobsters are normally removed by the fisherman. Commercial lobstermen fishing in LCMA 1 shall rig their traps with rectangular vents that measure at least 1-15/16 inches by 5 3/4 inches or two circular vents that measure at least 2-7/16 inches. Commercial lobstermen fishing in LCMA 2, 4, 5, 6, or Outer Cape Cod shall rig their traps with rectangular vents that measure at least two inches by 5 3/4 inches or two circular vents that measure at least 2 5/8 inches. Commercial lobstermen fishing in LCMA 3 shall rig their traps with rectangular vents that measure at least 2 1/16 inches by 5 3/4 inches or two circular vents that measure at least 2 11/16 inches.
The maximum volume of lobster pots is 22,950 cubic inches.
Lobster traps not constructed entirely of wood must contain an "ghost panel" with the following specifications:
- The rectangular opening covered by the panel must be at least 3-3/4" x 3-3/4"
- The panel must be constructed of, or fastened to the trap with one of the following untreated materials: wood lath; cotton, hemp, sisal or jute twine not greater than 3/16" in diameter; or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 3/32" in diameter.
- The door of the trap may serve as the escape panel if fastened with one of the specified materials.
- The escape panel must be located in the parlor(s) of the trap, but may not be on the bottom.
Boats for lobstering must display the licensee's buoy colors on each side of the hull(or upon panels attached to each side of the hull), or upon a single panel attached to the top of the bow or by mounting a buoy at least 11" long, 4" diameter with licensee's colors, upright, at least 6" above the roof of the boat. Color scheme on hull or panels must be a solid color strip 4" high, 18" wide. The rectangle or square resulting must be bordered on all sides with a black strip at least 1" wide.
Divers must display their assigned number upon their air tank and a floating marker (upright single panel, at least 12" x 12", white background, black numerals at least 3" high, 1/2" in thickness or width of line on both sides of the marker). A group of divers may use only one floating marker listing the license number of each diver in the group.
Lobster - Prohibitions
It is illegal for anyone, except the owner, to handle, destroy or molest any lobster or crab pot or other fishing gear, including any gear swept upon the shore, beaches or flats whether public or private, or to take fish therefrom.
Taking of lobsters and crabs from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise is strictly prohibited.
Spearing, dipping or dragging for lobsters is prohibited.
Removal of eggs from lobsters is prohibited. Egg-bearing lobsters or lobsters from which eggs have been removed must be immediately returned alive to the waters from which taken.
Mutilation of any lobster which affects its measurement or the possession of lobster parts shall be prima facie evidence that the lobster was less than the legal minimum size.
Taking v-notched female lobsters is strictly prohibited. V-notched female lobster must be immediately returned alive to the waters from which they were taken.
Shellfish & Sea Urchins Regulations Table
|Species||Closed Season||Possession Limit||Min. Size|
|Bay Scallops||4/1 - 10/1||10 Bu/day including Annual shells *||Well-defined growth line|
|Conchs||--||--||2 3/4" width|
|Surf Clams||--||400 Bu/48 hr||5"|
|Sea Scallops **||--||200 meat lbs or 2,000 lbs shell-on||4" height|
|Sea Urchins||Scuba: 5/1 - 8/31|
Mobile Gear: 3/1 - 10/31
|--||2" exclude spines|
* subject to modification by Town Regulations
** pursuant to the authority found in 322 CMR 7.01(7), see permit conditions issued to Coastal Access Permit holders
Minimum size measured by longest diameter. These sizes are subject to change, contact the Division for further information.
The taking of shellfish, eels and seaworms are subject to the control of the cities and towns. Consult local authorities for regulations and permits. However, the Division of Marine Fisheries has authority to regulate surf clams, ocean quahogs & shellfish taken from certain contaminated areas.
Sale of shellfish: To sell shellfish, an individual must possess a town/city commercial shellfish permit, a state commercial fisherman permit endorsed for shellfish, and a shellfish ID card issued by the Division of Marine Fisheries.