A. Recreational Fishery. The recreational size limit, catch limit, and season for summer flounder shall be established and may be modified through a public notice issued in accordance with §F of this regulation.
B. Commercial Fishery.
(a) The annual commercial quota for Maryland is established by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
(b) The annual commercial quota is divided into an allocation for:
(i) The Atlantic Ocean, its coastal bays, and their tributaries;
(ii) The Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries;
(iii) The Potomac river; and
(iv) The harvest of summer flounder provided for in §B(3)(a) and (4) of this regulation.
(c) The annual commercial quota and allocations are subject to downward adjustment action if there are overages in the previous year's landings.
(d) Equal individual allocations shall be established for the portion of the annual commercial quota provided for in §B(1)(b)(i) of this regulation and allocated by permit to an individual that meets the requirements set forth in §C(5) of this regulation.
(e) An individual who possesses a Maryland summer flounder landing permit in accordance with §C of this regulation and lands more than the assigned permit allocation, including any quota transfers, shall have the overage deducted from the permit allocation for the following year.
(f) A Maryland summer flounder permit holder (permittee) may annually transfer up to 100 percent of the permittee’s individual quota to another permittee upon notification of and approval by the Department. However, an individual may not hold more than 29 percent of the allocation for the total fishery.
(2) Minimum Size. An individual licensed to catch fish for commercial purposes may not catch or possess a summer flounder less than:
(a) The recreational size limit set forth by public notice in accordance with §§A and F of this regulation if caught by hook and line; or
(b) 14 inches total length if caught by gear other than hook and line.
(3) Daily Catch Limits. An individual licensed to catch fish for commercial purposes may not catch, possess, or land more than:
(a) 100 pounds of summer flounder per day from the Atlantic Ocean, its coastal bays, and their tributaries unless in possession of a Maryland summer flounder landing permit; and
(b) 50 pounds of summer flounder per day from the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.
(4) An individual licensed to catch fish for commercial purposes may not:
(a) Transfer summer flounder from one vessel to another vessel; or
(b) Land more than 5 percent by:
(i) Number of summer flounder under 14 inches as part of the daily limit for flounder caught by gear other than hook and line; or
(ii) Weight of summer flounder in excess of the daily catch limits established in §B(3) of this regulation.
(5) Summer flounder harvested for commercial purposes from Maryland waters of the Atlantic Ocean or from the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and landed in Maryland shall be sold to a dealer with a federal permit.
C. Licenses and Permits.
(1) A person shall be licensed to fish for commercial purposes in accordance with Natural Resources Article, §4-701, Annotated Code of Maryland, in order to catch, possess, or land summer flounder.
(2) A vessel which is used to catch, possess, or land summer flounder for commercial purposes from the waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Atlantic Ocean shall be permitted by the National Marine Fisheries Service in accordance with 50 CFR §648.4.
(3) A permittee may catch, possess, or land summer flounder for commercial purposes on a vessel other than the vessel declared on the permittee's permit if in possession of the permit issued to the permittee, and the undeclared vessel is permitted by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
(a) Tidal fish licensees shall declare their intent to fish for summer flounder between August 1 and August 31 of each year.
(b) A tidal fish licensee who has not declared by August 31 of the current year, and who has not declared by the August 31 deadline in any of the 3 preceding years, may apply until September 14 of the current year, or the next business day if September 14 occurs on a weekend, to the Director of Fisheries Service provided the licensee shows good reason why the application should be processed.
(c) An exception to the September 14 deadline will be considered only for an individual who can provide satisfactory documentation of a physical or mental incapacity that prevented that individual from meeting the declaration time period established in this subsection.
(d) The federally registered name or the State registration numbers of the permitted vessels owned by the permittee shall be indicated at the time of application for the permit and declared on the Maryland summer flounder landing permit.
(e) Any change in vessel ownership shall be reported to the Department so that a revised permit card may be issued.
(5) Summer Flounder Landing Permit.
(a) No more than seven summer flounder landing permits may be issued by the Department. The number of summer flounder landing permits is based on the reported catch and landing records of summer flounder in Maryland during 19982003.
(b) The Department may issue a permit to catch and land summer flounder in Maryland to a person who is licensed in accordance with Natural Resources Article, §4-701, Annotated Code of Maryland, owns or has a share of ownership in a federally permitted vessel, and:
(i) Declared or was eligible to declare, in the previous year, an intent to fish for summer flounder in accordance with §C(4) of this regulation in the previous year and has not transferred the permit; or
(ii) Received a summer flounder landing permit through a permanent business transfer in accordance with §C(7) of this regulation.
(a) An operator means an individual who is not a permittee and acts as an agent of a permittee.
(b) The name of the vessel on which the operator is working shall be declared on the Maryland summer flounder landing permit.
(c) An operator may catch, possess, or land summer flounder for commercial purposes on a vessel owned by a permittee if they are in possession of that permittee's permit.
(7) Permanent Transfer of a Landing Permit. The Department may approve the permanent transfer of a Maryland summer flounder landing permit to an individual who applies to the Department requesting the transfer on forms provided by the Department.
(8) Temporary transfers of summer flounder landing permits are not permitted.
(9) Regardless of the number of authorized individuals with Maryland summer flounder landing permits on board any one federally permitted vessel, no more than two summer flounder quotas may be fished from one vessel per trip.
D. Gear Restrictions.
(1) A person who catches summer flounder for commercial purposes may not use a trawl net with stretched mesh size of less than 6 inches square or 5-1/2 inches diamond applied throughout the net, including the body, extensions, and cod end.
(2) For the purposes of measuring the required mesh sizes, at least 20 meshes shall be measured, of which:
(a) At least 12 meshes shall measure the minimum size or larger; and
(b) The remaining meshes may not measure more than 1/4 inch less than the minimum mesh size.
E. Reporting and Penalties.
(1) In addition to the requirements of Natural Resources Article, §4-206, Annotated Code of Maryland, an individual in possession of a Maryland summer flounder landing permit shall record the harvest of summer flounder on the permit daily and submit the completed permit to the Department within 14 days from the end of the summer flounder season.
(2) A dealer shall transmit information weekly, or as requested, on each summer flounder transaction through the Department-approved reporting system.
(3) The Department may withhold quota allocation for a summer flounder landing permit for failing to comply with §E(1) of this regulation during the previous season.
(4) The Department may deny an application for a summer flounder landing permit for failing to comply with §E(1) of this regulation during the previous season.
(5) Prior to suspending a permit under this regulation or denying an application for a permit, the Department shall give the licensee notice of its intended action and an opportunity to appear at a hearing conducted in accordance with the contested case procedures set forth in State Government Article, Title 10, Subtitle 2, Annotated Code of Maryland, and COMAR 08.01.04.
(1) The Secretary may establish or modify catch limits, size limits, quotas, and seasons for summer flounder in order to implement the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Summer Flounder, by issuing a public notice on the Fisheries Service website.
(2) The public notice shall state its effective hour and date and shall be published on the Fisheries Service website at least 48 hours in advance of the effective hour and date.
(3) The Secretary shall make a reasonable effort to disseminate a public notice issued under this section through various other media so that an affected individual has a reasonable opportunity to be informed.
(4) The Department shall make a reasonable effort to modify quotas to ensure that the Maryland portion of the coast-wide quota is harvested and not exceeded.
(5) A violation of the restrictions set by the Secretary in accordance with §F of this regulation is a violation of this regulation.
G. Summer Flounder Study Area.
(1) Study Area. The study area is that part of the Atlantic Ocean located between 1 and 3 miles from the Maryland shoreline.
(2) The study shall:
(a) Occur May 1 through May 15 and October 16 through October 31, dates inclusive; and
(b) Conclude on May 16, 2016.
(3) Any individual licensed to catch finfish for commercial purposes may harvest summer flounder in accordance with this section.
(4) Notwithstanding §B(2) of this regulation, a commercial licensee fishing in the study area may not catch or possess a summer flounder less than 14 inches total length, regardless of the gear type used.
(5) An individual participating in this study shall comply with all other commercial fishing requirements of this regulation.
(6) During the study period described in §G(2) of this regulation, a commercial licensee may not engage in fishing activities in the Atlantic Ocean within 1 mile of the Maryland shore, its coastal bays, or their tidal tributaries while in possession of summer flounder, caught by hook and line, that are less than the size described in §B(2)(a) of this regulation.