Massachusetts law about recreational hunting and fishing

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on recreational hunting and fishing law.

Table of Contents

Best bets

Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife)
Primary resource for official information about freshwater fishing and hunting.

Mass. Div. of Marine Fisheries (DMF)
Primary resource for official information about saltwater fishing, lobstering, and crabbing.

The Massachusetts guide to hunting, freshwater fishing, and trapping Laws
Each year, MassWildlife publishes a guide containing a summary of laws and regulations for the current year. Some people refer to this publication as “the Abstracts” or “the Guide.”

Massachusetts saltwater recreational fishing guide
Comprehensive guide to regulations, species, access sites, bait and tackle shops, and more, updated annually.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c. 130 Marine Fish and Fisheries. See also, sections that have been recently added, amended, or repealed:

  • § 37 Lobsters and crabs; licenses

MGL c. 131 Inland Fisheries and Game. See also, sections that have been recently added or amended:

  • § 2C George L. Darey Inland Fisheries and Game Fund; funding sources; appropriations

Massachusetts regulations

321 CMR 2 Miscellaneous regulations relating to fisheries and wildlife 

321 CMR 3 Hunting 

321 CMR 4 Fishing 

322 CMR Division of Marine Fisheries

Federal regulations

50 CFR 32 Hunting and Fishing

Selected case law

Dapson v Daly 257 Mass. 195 (1926)
"…the title to wild animals and game is in the Commonwealth in trust for the public, to be devoted to the common welfare…"

Web sources

About the hunter education courses
Basic required course as well as advanced classes

Apply for a crossbow permit
If you have a permanent disability and want to hunt with a crossbow, you can apply for a permit.

MassFishHunt licensing and harvest reporting 
Contains information on freshwater fishing and hunting license types and fees, how to obtain licenses and permits, and walk-in locations to obtain licenses. 

MassWildlife lands viewer  
Tool to create customizable maps showing wildlife lands open to hunting, fishing, trapping and other recreation activity jointly owned by the Department of Fish and Game(DFG) and MassWildlife throughout the Commonwealth

Recreational shellfishing and clamming 
Information on noncommercial digging for clams, oysters and mussels. Permits and regulations are issued by coastal towns.

Take me fishing
Resource by state to all things fishing-related, including regulations, licenses, places to fish, fishing reports, educational programs and events, species of fish, and fishing techniques

Print sources

Massachusetts environmental law, 4th ed., MCLE, loose-leaf, Chapter 8 – "Fisheries and Wildlife Law."



Law library locations and phone numbers Library locations 
Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email
Last updated: April 8, 2022