For the LATEST updates as of May 15, click to Maryland Boating Regulations as of May 15.
Update May 6: Today Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that effective tomorrow, May 7, at 7 a.m., "the list of safe outdoor activities will be broadened to now include: golf, tennis, BOATING, FISHING, camping, and other activities." Social distancing guidelines must still be adhered to.
According to the Maryland DNR: recreational boating activities, including motorized and non-motorized vessels and personal watercraft, are permitted, however:
- Boaters must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
- No more than 10 people can be on a boat at one time, including captain and crew.
- Boats must be distanced from each other by at least 10 feet and are prohibited from rafting up, beaching, or having rendezvous events.
- Boats are prohibited from docking at restaurants or bars.
- Vessel and boat races remain prohibited.
- Marinas can reopen to recreational boaters, but must adhere to the Maryland Departments of Commerce and Health guidelines.
- Pump-out stations and boats may resume operations under the Departments of Commerce and Health guidelines.
- Local jurisdictions may choose to open public boat ramps, but must ensure social distancing guidelines.
- All normal boating rules and regulations are in effect and must be followed.
Effective Thursday, May 7, at 7 a.m, recreational fishing activities, including catch-and-release, are allowed, however:
- When fishing from a boat, one must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
- No more than 10 people may be on a boat at one time, including captain and crew.
- When fishing from onshore or at a pier, social distancing guidelines must be followed.
- DNR fishing piers will reopen immediately.
- Fishing tournaments remain prohibited at this time.
- All normal rules and regulations regarding fishing are in effect and must be followed, including creel limits, gear restrictions, and seasons.
UPDATED April 17: Governor Larry Hogan has issued a Stay at Home order for Marylanders in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, but the big question for most boaters is, what does this mean for recreational boating?
The directive states that:
"No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes."
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources states that while the order does allow for outdoor exercise recreation, the DNR is reaffirming the need for members of the public who engage in outdoor recreation to follow all rules and guidelines in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Hogan has stressed that safely practiced outdoor recreation time is essential to health and well-being. Most Maryland state parks and other public lands remain open, and residents may engage in safe, isolated activities.
Some key guidelines include:
- Only individuals, immediate family members, and people who reside together should engage in outdoor activities. These groups should be limited to 10 people or fewer, and a distance of at least six feet from others should be maintained.
- Extra soap or hand sanitizer should be packed for any activity.
- Anyone who is sick or has been sick the past two weeks should stay home.
According to the Maryland DNR, recreational boating is prohibited until the governor lifts the executive order or until the State of Emergency has ended. However, if an individual is boating to seek food for them or their family, boating is permitted. Boats used to transport essential employees or goods as defined in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce are also permitted.
The use of motorized personal watercraft is not permitted at this time.
If your boat serves as your residence, you can remain on the vessel.
Since kayaking and paddleboarding are both human-powered forms of exercise, akin to bicycling, they are permitted under the executive order. Guidance on social distancing and the prohibition on social gatherings must be strictly followed.
Recreational fishing is prohibited. Limited recreational fishing and crabbing is allowed if you are seeking food for you or your family, but social distancing guidelines and the prohibition on social gatherings must be strictly followed.
As part of the food supply chain, charter boats can continue operating but must abide by social distancing guidelines and the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people. Charter boats and head boats should NOT have more than 10 individuals on the vessel at any time.
Traveling By Boat
While there are no orders limiting travel through Maryland by boat or car at this time, travelers are advised to make trips only for essential purposes. If travelers have been in close contact with others, the DNR urges them to avoid close contact with others in Maryland and self-monitor for symptoms. If any symptoms develop, they should self-quarantine and contact a health care provider. The DNR is also urging travelers to follow CDC guidance on domestic travel, which can be found here: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-in-the-us.html.
Moving A Boat from A Marina to Your Home/Boat Slip
You can have your boat moved or delivered to your residence or boat slip. While it is not necessary for drivers in Maryland to have documentation about the purpose of travel, having such documentation may help. General recreational boating is not allowed.
Performing Checks/Maintenance On a Vessel At a Marina
People can travel between homes or residences to perform essential maintenance. That would include a marine vessel if it is used as a home or residence, or if the essential maintenance seeks to prevent the loss of or damage to one’s property. Individuals should check with the marina before traveling as many have reduced hours or suspended service during the pandemic.
For more information, be sure to read the Maryland DNR's Frequently Asked Questions post regarding the Stay at Home Order.