Snakehead Handling and the Law05/12/2010 | Posted by DCOSDEN
In recent years spring brings a flood of calls and emails from anglers who have caught a snakehead fish in the tidal Potomac River or its tributaries. This year there appears to be some confusion as to what anglers can do legally and what they should do with snakeheads when they catch one.
Maryland DNR Fisheries Service created a regulation in 2009 which allows for the taking of snakehead fish from Maryland waters by any legal bait so long as the snakehead is killed by one of the following methods upon capture. Under 08.02.11.04 (Statewide General Regulations) of the Code of Maryland regulations,
“An individual may capture and possess a snakehead fish using any legal method if the head of the snakehead fish is immediately removed, the body is gutted, the gill arches are removed from both sides of the fish, or the fish is filleted upon capture.”The regulation states further,
“The capture and possession of snakehead fish is not subject to any season, creel limit, or size limit.”The bottom line is that we are encouraging anglers to keep and eat snakeheads which are caught in Maryland waters but the fish must be killed upon capture. We do not require that snakeheads be reported. However in order to track expansion of their range we are asking that snakeheads caught outside of the tidal waters of the Potomac and its tributaries be reported to Don Cosden at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 260-8287.
We asked our neighbors who share jurisdiction of the Potomac and adjacent waters about their policies and here are the replies.
Federal law prohibits the import of live fish into the U. S. or across state borders without a permit from the USFWS.
District of Columbia – the fish must be dead with the head removed
Virginia - anglers who legally catch a northern snakehead on hook-and-line may keep the fish to mount or eat providing they immediately kill the fish and notify VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fish (best way is hotline 804-367-2925).