Saltwater fishing public access

Providing and maintaining public access to Massachusetts’ marine waters is one of our top priorities. This page will inform you of our public access projects and how to find a public access site.

What is Public Access?

About one million people go saltwater fishing in Massachusetts tidal waters each year. With increased privatization of our shoreline, providing public access to our waters is essential. We do this by:

  • Acquiring property and easements.
  • Building infrastructure including fishing piers and reefs.
  • Working with other state and federal agencies.

Finding a Public Access Site

Boat ramps, piers, and shore-side fishing areas

With more than 1,500 miles of coastline, Massachusetts offers a variety of places to fish. This FBA Boat Ramp Viewer lists boat launches, boat ramps, fishing piers, and shore-side fishing areas in both saltwater and freshwater. The list is maintained by the Office of Fishing & Boating Access (FBA) and includes most sites supported by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF).

All anglers should know their public access rights along the shoreline.

Artificial reefs

DMF has developed a number of artificial reefs in MA coastal waters. You can learn more information and view maps of these artificial reef locations.

Fishing charters and headboats

To fish from a boat, DMF permits hundreds of for-hire charter and party boat vessels. An up-to-date directory of for-hire vessels can be found in our Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Guide.


Our Projects

The Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund boosted efforts to improve public access. The fund is divided into two subcategories, Cooperative Projects and Small Grants.

Cooperative projects include construction and maintenance to public access locations. The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program reimburses all cooperative projects.

Small grants allow towns to apply for funds to support their public access projects. All funded projects must allow for access to all saltwater anglers fishing in Massachusetts.

Have questions? Contact Ross Kessler, DMF Public Access Coordinator, at (508) 742-9739 or

2016 Projects
Location Project Grant Type
Harwich deployment of artificial recreational fishing reef Cooperative with Town of Harwich
Plymouth installation of fillet station at the Town Boat Ramp Small grant
Rockport landscape improvements along the Atlantic Path Small grant
Marshfield new LED lighting at the Green Harbor boat ramp Small grant
Gloucester new float at Magnolia Pier; labor for this project was provided by the Gloucester High School wood shop Small grant
Dennis two new floats and a new gangway at Uncle Freeman's Landing boat ramp on Bass River Small grant


2015 Projects
Location Project Grant Type
Newburyport replacement and improvement of existing pier at Cashman Park Cooperative project with OFBA
Weymouth new LED lighting at the Back River boat launch Small grant
Eastham expansion of pre-existing dredging project to make the State boat launch more useable Small grant
Marshfield creation of a path gangway, car top vessel launch, and fishing dock at Peter Igo Park on the Green River Small grant

2014 Projects

Location  Project Grant Type
Oak Bluffs construction of new fishing pier on Martha's Vineyard Cooperative project with OFBA
Sandwich improvements to existing Scusset fishing pier on the Cape Cod Canal Cooperative project with OFBA and the Department of Conservation and Recreation
Mashpee stairway replacement at Popponesset Beach access site Cooperative project with OFBA
Sandwich parking lot improvements at Craven's Landing access site Division project
Westport boat ramp float replacement Cooperative project with OFBA
Marshfield car top vessel launch and parking site improvements at Harbor Park access site Cooperative project with OFBA
Aquinnah reestablishment of access path and parking lot at Dogfish Bar shore fishing site Cooperative project with OFBA
Swansea improvements to Pierce's Point public way Small grant
Quincy boat ramp maintenance and a new gangway on Hough's Neck Small grant
Rockport   landscape improvements along the Atlantic Path Small grant
Fall River new LED lighting at Bicentennial boat ramp Small grant
Duxbury fish filleting station with running water, web cam with views of Duxbury Bay, and a weather station Small grant

Other Projects

Year Location Project Grant Type
2013 Yarmouth construction of new pier and improved parking on Bass River, Wilbur Park Cooperative project with OFBA
2000 Wareham new construction of two piers on Wareham River at Besse Park  Cooperative project with OFBA
1999 Sandwich acquisition of property for Craven's Landing shore fishing site  Cooperative project
1996 Aquinnah acquisition of property for Dogfish Bar shore fishing site Cooperative project
1993 Edgartown acquisition of property for East Beach shore fishing site Cooperative project


DMF Properties

Use the following links to learn more about DMF owned public access site. 

Craven's Landing

Dogfish Bar

East Beach