Massachusetts law about recreational hunting and fishing

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

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

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.”

The 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 See also, sections that have been recently added, amended, or repealed: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

St.2022, c.145, § 6 Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (effective November 2, 2022)

Massachusetts regulations

302 CMR 12.11 Hunting, fishing & trapping in state parks

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, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Basic required course as well as advanced classes. Basic Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, Trapper Education, Map, Compass, and Survival, Waterfowl Identification and Hunting, Black Powder (Muzzleloader) Education.

Apply for a crossbow permit, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
If you have a permanent disability and want to hunt with a crossbow, you can apply for a permit.

Hunting in the parks, Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation.
DCR allows hunting throughout the year at many facilities, but some have special restrictions.

MassFishHunt licensing and harvest reporting, Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Use MassFishHunt to purchase and print fishing, hunting, and trapping licenses, permits, and stamps. You can also use it to report a harvest or manage your account. 

MassWildlife lands viewerMass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife.
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 saltwater fishing regulations, Mass. Dept. of Fish and Game.
Includes fishing limits and size regulations for fish and shellfish. For example, quahogs must be 1 inch in thickness.

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

Take me fishing: get a fishing license online, Takemefishing.org.
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."

Contact

Last updated: November 8, 2022
Feedback