On April 16, 2014, the Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) announced revisions to a number of regulations affecting the harvest and possession of American eels to reduce fishing mortality on all life stages. Among these regulatory amendments was an action to reduce the recreational eel possession limit from 50 eels to 25 eels, with an exception for permitted for-hire vessels. Following this announcement, MarineFisheries has received a number of inquiries regarding this new possession limit. This notice serves to clarify any confusion.

  • It is unlawful for any fisherman to take, possess or land more than 25 eels per day without holding a commercial fisherman permit endorsed for eels. Additionally, it is unlawful for a recreational fisherman to be fishing while in possession of more than 25 eels, whether purchased or harvested. These limits apply to both the individual and the vessel regardless of the number of persons onboard.
  • If an individual purchases more that 25 eels from a bait shop or dealer and is transporting eels, the individual must be able to document the purchase of eels with a receipt from the seller. This will allow Law Enforcement to determine that these eels were lawfully purchased.
  • All of the above is true for for-hire permit holders, except their limit is 50 eels, rather than 25 eels. 

The complete text of Massachusetts’ American eel regulations can be found at 322 CMR 6.30. More information regarding the management of American eels in Massachusetts can be found on the MarineFisheries website: