Commercial finfish regulations

You can learn about the regulations that govern commercial finfish fishing in the documents attached below. Regulations tables were updated on October 13, 2017.

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) works hard to keep these regulations tables accurate and up to date. This is an unofficial copy. The Secretary of State maintains the official copy of the 322 CMR. You can buy an official copy from the state bookstore. For more information on ordering a copy of 322 CMR, visit the Secretary of State website.

Commercial finfish regulations

Species Fishery Season Size limit Possession Limit
American eel (1) All Jan 01 - Dec 31 9 in. no limit
Black sea bass (2) Weirs Jan 01 - Dec 31 12 in.  no daily limit
  All gears except weirs Jan 01 - Mar 31 12 in. 100 lb.
  Fish pots Jul 09 - Oct 3 12 in. 400 lb.
  Hook & line Jul 09 - Oct 3 12 in. 200 lb.
  Mobile gear Jul 09 - Oct 3 12 in. 200 lb.
Bluefish All Jan 01 - quota dep.* no limit 5,000 lb.
Cod (3) (4) North of Cape Cod Jan 01 - Dec 31 19 in. 200 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 (5) P1: Nets Jan 01 - Jan 31 14 in. prohibited
  P1: Nets Feb 01 - Apr 22 14 in. w/o LOA 500 lb.
  P1: Nets Feb 01 - Apr 22 14 in. w/ LOA 1,000 lb. per week
  P2: Nets Apr 23 - Jun 09 14 in. 100 lb.
  P2: Longlines Apr 23 - Jun 09 14 in. 100 lb.
  P2: Handlines or rod & reel Apr 23 - Jun 09 14 in. prohibited
  P2: Nets Jun 10 - Jul 18 14 in. 300 lb.
  P2: Longlines Jun 10 - Jul 18 14 in. 200 lb.
  P2: Handlines or rod & reel Jun 10 - Jul 18 14 in. 200 lb.
Haddock (3) All Jan 01 - Dec 31 16 in. no limit
Horseshoe crab (6) Biomedical Jan 01 - Dec 31 7 in. 1,000 crabs
  Mobile gear Jan 01 - quota dep. 7 in. 300 crabs
  Other gears Jan 01 - quota dep.  7 in. 400 crabs
Illex squid (7) All Jan 01 - quota dep. no limit no limit
Longfin squid (loligo) (7) All Jan 01 - Apr 30 no limit no limit
  All May 01 - Jul 09 no limit no limit
  All Jul 10 - Aug 31 no limit no limit
  All Sept 01 - quota dep. no limit no limit
Menhaden (8) Open access Jan 01 - quota dep. no limit 6,000 lb.
  Limited access Jan 01 - quota dep. no limit 125,000 lb. until 85% of quota harvested
25,000 lb. until 95% of quota harvested
6,000 lb. until 100% of quota harvested
Monkfish (3) (9) All Jan 01 - Dec 31 17 in. 536 lb. tails, 1,560 lb. whole
Ocean pout (3) N/A N/A N/A prohibited
Pollock (3) All Jan 01 - Dec 31 19 in. no limit
Redfish (3) All Jan 01 - Dec 31 7 in. no limit
Scup (10) Winter I Jan 01 - Apr 30 9 in. 50,000 lb.
  Fish weir May 01 - quota dep. 9 in. no daily limit
  Trawlers May 01 - quota dep. 9 in. 10,000 lb. weekly limit
  Non-trawl May 01 - May 31 9 in. 800 lb.
  Non-trawl Jun 01 - Jun 30 9 in. 400 lb.
  Non-trawl Jul 01 - quota dep. 9 in. 1,500 lb.
  Winter II Nov 01 - quota dep. 9 in. 18,000 lb.
Smelt Hook & line only Jun 16 - Mar 14 no limit 50 fish
Smooth dogfish All gears but longline Jan 01 - Dec 31 no limit 100 lb.
Spiny dogfish All  May 01 - quota dep. no limit 6,000 lb.
Striped bass (11) Boat & lobster permits fishing from vessel named on the permit Jun 26 - Aug 31 34 in. 15 fish
  All other fishing activity Jun 26 - Aug 31 34 in. 2 fish
Tautog All Sep 01 - quota dep. 16 in. 40 fish
Weakfish All Jan 01 - Dec 31 16 in. 100 lb.
Windowpane (3) N/A N/A N/A prohibited
Winter flounder (3) 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. 750 lb.
Wolffish (3) N/A N/A N/A prohibited
Yellowtail flounder (3) All Jan 01 - Dec 31 12 in. 250 lb.

Notes:

Unless weekly aggregate limits apply, all trip limits apply per calendar day or per trip, whichever is longer. For quota-managed species, the trip limit additionally applies to the person, the permit holder, or the vessel regardless of how many permits may be held. 

1) American eels are subject to regulation by the Division and the municipality. Please consult local regulations.

2) Fish weirs are not subject to daily trip limits. However, the combined landings of all fish weirs are subject to a 15,000-pound annual sub-quota allocation. The fishery opens on the July 9 and remains open until the annual quota has been landed. Open fishing days are Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Thursday was added as of September 18, 2017. Black sea bass are to be measured from the tip of the snout or jaw to the farthest extremity of the tail, not including the tail filament.

3) Groundfish species are regulated under the federal Northeast Multispecies Management Plan and federal rules apply beyond state waters. Federal permit holders may land groundfish in accordance with federal rules. The trip limits listed apply to State Waters Groundfish Endorsement holders and federally-permitted vessels while fishing in state waters. Commercial fishermen who do not hold a State Waters Groundfish Endorsement or federal limited entry permit may take up to 25 pounds of regulated groundfish per day while fishing in state waters. Fishing for groundfish or with gears capable of catching groundfish in state waters is subject to various spatial/temporal closures, gear closures, and spawning closures. Please review 322 CMR 4.04, 4.06, 8.04, 8.05, 8.07, 8.09 and 12.04 for more details. 

4) It is illegal to harvest cod from portions of Massachusetts Bay during the period of Nov. 15 to Jan. 31 (Winter Cod Conservation Zone) and April 16 to July 21 (Spring Cod Conservation Zone). See 322 CMR 8.07 for more details.

5) The P1 daily trip limits for nets is 500 lbs or vessels may obtain a LOA to land 1,000 lbs per week. The P1 trip limit is reduced to 100 lbs for all participants once 25% of the quota is landed. The P2 daily trip limit for nets during the squid fishery (April 23-June 9) is 100 lbs. P2 open fishing days after the squid fishery (June 10-Quota dep.) are Sunday-Thursday. During this period, it is unlawful to land fluke on Friday and Saturday. Year-round, it is unlawful to land fluke during the period of 8 p.m.-6 a.m.

6) A special permit for biomedical harvest is required to participate in the biomedical fishery. A bait fishery permit endorsement holder may not also hold a biomedical harvest special permit. All crabs harvested for biomedical purposes may only be sold to dealers authorized to purchase crabs harvested for biomedical purposes. After crabs are bled by the biomedical firm, harvesters must return the crabs to the area of harvest. All horseshoe crab harvest is subject to 5-day closures around new and full moons from late April through June. Mobile gear participants are subject to closed days on Fridays and Saturdays beginning on June 10. Mobile gear fishing regulations are subject to change in 2017.  

7) Illex and Longfin squid are regulated under the Atlantic Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Management Plan. Seasons and limits may be adjusted by the federal government. Visit www.nmfs.noaa.gov for more details.

8) Any commercial fisherman may catch and land up to 6,000 pounds of menhaden per day. Commercial fishermen with a limited entry menhaden commercial permit endorsement may take menhaden under the higher trip limits described in the table above. These trip limits are adjusted based on quota availability. The 1,000-pound bycatch limit applies once 100% of the menhaden quota is taken and the fishery is closed. When the bycatch limit is in effect, menhaden landings cannot exceed 5% the total weight of the commercial catch. The use of nets within inshore waters is prohibited without an inshore net permit. The use of small bait nets of no more than 250 ft is authorized exempt from this prohibition. Consult 322 CMR 4.02 for more details.   

9) Monkfish may be processed at sea into tails and livers and landed as such products. Monkfish tails must be 11 inches in length, and the total weight of monkfish tails may not exceed 536 pounds. The weight of monkfish livers must not exceed 25% the weight of monkfish tails being landed or 10% the weight of the whole monkfish being landed.

10) Fish weirs are not subject to daily trip limits or closed fishing days. However, the combined landings of all fish weirs are subject to a 300,000-pound annual quota allocation. Trawlers may land scup 7 days per week. Hook and line and trap fishermen may land scup Sunday-Thursday during May; Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in June; and then 7 days per week beginning July 1. The Winter I and Winter II periods are managed by the federal government, and seasons and limits are set by NMFS and complemented by DMF.  

11) Striped bass may be taken by hook and line gear only. Netting, spearing, and snagging striped bass is prohibited (G.L. c. 130 §100B). High-grading and fillet striped bass is prohibited. Fishermen fishing under the authority of a commercial boat permit or lobster permit when fishing aboard the vessel named on the permit are subject to the 15-fish limit. However, fishermen fishing under the authority of a commercial boat permit or lobster permit when fishing from another location (e.g., shore or another vessel) are subject to the 2-fish limit. All Individual and Rod and Reel permit holders are subject to the 2-fish limit as well. The commercial striped bass open fishing days during the season are Monday and Thursday for all gear types. Possession limits apply to both permit holders, regardless of the number of permits held, and vessels, regardless of the number of permits on board.   

Additional Resources

Feedback

Tell us what you think