Recreational Crabbing Season Underway in Maryland

By Jeremy Sandberg, The Epoch Times
April 6, 2019 Updated: April 6, 2019

The recreational crabbing season in Maryland is officially underway as of April 1, where steamed crab is a summer traditional meal enjoyed for generations.

In the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, coastal bays and their tributaries the crabbing season runs from April 1 to Dec. 15.

Recreational crabbing can be preformed in a variety of ways and done with or without a license, depending on the equipment and location.


According to the Maryland Fishing and Crabbing regulations website, anyone that fishes for crabs with handline or dip nets does not need a license.

However, these crabbers are obligated to obey the unlicensed crabber limits.

“Limits of no more than 24 male hard crabs and no more than 12 soft crabs or male peeler crabs,” says the states regulations website.

For those crabbing from waterfront properties, annual registration is required but is free of charge, according to the regulations.

“An owner, lessee, or tenant of a private shoreline property may use a maximum of two crab pots, regardless of the number of owners or lessees of the property, and must be annually registered with the department. The registration is free and it does NOT count as a recreational crabbing license.”

Crab Pots

Recreational crab pots are required to have turtle excluders to prevent small turtles from entering the traps and drowning. Instructions on how to build your own turtle excluders can be found on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) government website.

Maryland Blue Crabs in a basket
Maryland Blue Crabs rest in a basket a the Crab Claw restaurant in St. Michaels, Md. on aug. 2, 2007. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the DNR website, crab pots must be marked with the owner’s name and address or DNR identification number.

“A license is not needed to use properly registered crab pots; however, you are limited to the unlicensed crabber limits,” says the DNR website.


For registered crab pots, the limit on Blue Crabs in the Atlantic is one bushel per person, with a maximum of two bushels per boat. There is a minimum size for crabs listed in the regulations, depending on the type of crab. Atlantic crabbing continues until Dec. 30.

In the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries the limit is two dozen male hard crabs and one dozen male peeler and/or soft crabs for an unlicensed individual crabbing from shore, an unlicensed boat, or from waterfront crab pots.

A licensed individual is allowed one bushel of male hard crabs and two dozen male peeler and/or soft crabs.

Anyone who uses a trotline, seines, net rings, eel pots for bait, or collapsible crab traps needs to have a Maryland recreational crabbing license.

Chef Mike Price prepares Blue Crab Soup
Chef Mike Price prepares his dish, Blue Crab Soup, during East Coast Eats: Maine to Miami, hosted by Josh Capon presented by AJ Madison + Monogram at Industria in N.Y. on Oct. 15, 2017. (Chance Yeh/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

Recreational crabbers are prohibited from possessing female hard or peeler crabs, egg-bearing sponge crabs, and from selling crabs.

The price of a license ranges from $2 to $15 dollars.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @JeremyJSandberg