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DMF makes every attempt 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.
Jan 01 - Feb 28
Apr 15 - Sept 16
Nov 01 - Dec 31
Tunas, billfish, and swordfish are managed by NOAA's Highly Migratory Species Office. Please consult NOAA Fisheries for permitting requirements and regulations.
*Rules listed are for Fishing Year (FY) 2017 (5/1/17 - 4/30/18). Rule changes are anticipated later this winter for FY 2018. FY 2018 limits will be published as soon as they are finalized. Please consult DMF for further information.
1) Subject to regulation by the Division and the municipality. Please consult municipal regulations.
2) 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) Federal rules apply beyond state waters. Consult NOAA Fisheries for regulations.
4) It is unlawful to fish with hook and line gear in the Winter Cod Conservation Closure from November 15 through January 31. It is unlawful to take cod from the Summer Cod Conservation Closure from April 16 through July 21. See maps in 322 CMR 8.07 for more details.
5) Striped bass are measured from the tip of the snout or jaw (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail. The discard of dead legal sized striped bass is unlawful. The practice of high-grading, whereby legal sized striped bass are released in favor of larger fish caught subsequently is unlawful. Accordingly, it is also unlawful to keep a striped bass alive in water by attaching a line or chain to the fish (stringer), or placing it in a live well or holding car. Striped bass must be kept whole, meaning the head, tail, and body remain intact. Only evisceration is allowed. Permitted for-hire vessels may fillet striped bass for their customers.
6) Black sea bass and scup may be filleted but not skinned while at-sea. No more than two fillets per allowed fish may be possessed.
The following species are allowed to be harvested:
Smooth Dogfish, Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, Finetooth, Blacknose, Tiger, Blacktip, Spinner, Bull, Lemon, Nurse, Scalloped hammerhead, Great hammerhead, Smooth hammerhead, Shortfin mako, Porbeagle, Common thresher, Oceanic whitetip, Blue
The following species are prohibited from harvest:
Silky, Sandbar, Sand tiger, Bigeye sand tiger, Whale, Basking, White, Dusky, Bignose, Galapagos, Night, Caribbean reef, Narrowtooth, Caribbean sharpnose, Smalltail, Atlantic angel, Longfin mako, Bigeye thresher, Sharpnose sevengill, Bluntnose sixgill, Bigeye sixgill
Outer Cape Cod Recreational Lobster Area
* Excludes green crabs. In order to harvest green crabs, you must obtain a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the Division. Please contact Kerry Allard for a LOA or more information at (617) 626-1633 or email@example.com).
Spearfishing is the taking of fish by use of a speargun. When spearfishing, you must comply with all recreational fishing regulations regarding size, seasons and bag limits on the species. You are not allowed to catch striped bass or lobster by spearfishing. For federally regulated species, please visit NOAA Fisheries. Popular spearfishing species in Massachusetts waters include tautog and black sea bass.
For Massachusetts marine waters, the minimum size for fish (exceptions listed below) is the greatest straight line length (not curved over the body) from the anterior tip of the jaw or snout (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail. Fish should be firmly grasped with both hands for proper measuring. Care should be taken so that the head firmly contacts the zero mark on rulers and tapes simultaneously with the tail extremity. For fish with forked tails, the upper and lower fork may be squeezed together to measure the tail extremity.
Black sea bass if the tail filament (tendril) is present, it is not included in the total length measurement.
Billfish (swordfish, sailfish, marlin) are measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the tail fork.
Sharks are measured from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail.
Tunas measurement is taken in a line, tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the upper jaw to the fork of the tail, which crosses the dorsal insertion of the pectoral fin and the dorsal side of the caudal keel.
Hewitts Cove (Hingham): (781) 740-1163
Radio Room (Boston): (617) 626-1650
North Coastal Bureau (Gloucester): (978) 283-7764
Toll Free Number (Boston): (800) 632-8075