Hi Felinis, welcome to the board, BTW.
I think we have this discussion every year at some point. It is a confusing topic because of the way the laws are written. You are right about COMAR, it will be what the court uses if you are unlucky enough to get cited and decide to fight it. The MD DNR Summary is exactly that - a 'summary' of the COMAR.
My comments on your interpretations:From the way that I read the 2005 Maryland crabbing regulations, if I purchase a $5.00 Rec. resident crabbing license, then I can dip net, hand-line (or scap) for crabs from bridges, shore or piers 24-hours per day, and may have in my possession up to one bushel of legal sized crabs at any particular time.
So - when everyone else leaves the bridge at sun-set, I can move in, crab all night, take a bushel home, and return for another bushel as I please.
I believe the intent of the law here is that you are allowed to harvest one bushel of crabs in a 24 hour period. If you take home the 'todays' bushel at 23:59 hours and return tomorrow at 00:00 hours, you may then start catching 'tomorrows' bushel.MDR Recreational crabbing time limits read:
"Recreational crabbers may set recreational crabbing gear and crab from boats".
This means that time limits DO NOT APPLY to crabbers not in boats, since the word "and" implies that BOTH conditions be true- i.e. you are both "Setting recreational crabbing gear" AND you are "crabbing from a boat".
The actual 2005 law reads:
"Except for handlines and dipnets, a person may not set any recreational crabbing gear or catch crabs for recreational purposes from a boat during: [the time limits]"
Notice the use of the word "or".
This means that time limits DO NOT APPLY to ANY crabbers who use "handlines and dipnets [and scap nets]".
This is a PRIME example of the confusion between the 'Summary' and COMAR. The author of the Summary may have been trying to point out the fact that, as a recreational crabber, you can not set your gear (trotlines or traps) before the legal starting time 'to claim your spot'. It doesn't matter whether you set your gear while wading, swimming or from a boat. This also gives commercial crabbers the advantage because they may set their gear before the legal starting time.
Handlines and dipnets are not considered 'gear' and therefore are exempt.The MDR Summary reads:
"Recreational crabbers may not set recreational crabbing gear and crab from boats on Wednesdays except handlines, dip nets and pots at private piers. "
This means that there are FOUR classes of recreational crabbers who CAN operate on Wednesdays:
1. handliners (and scappers) on boats
2. dip-neters on boats
3. boaters tending crab pots located at private piers
4. all crabbers without boats
The actual 2005 law DOES NOT MENTION BOATS. It reads:
"Except for dipnets, handlines, and crab pots from private piers, a person may not set any crabbing gear or catch crabs for recreational purposes on Wednesdays in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. "
This means that there are three classes of recreational crabbers who CAN operate on Wednesdays:
1. ALL dip-netters
2. ALL hand-liners (and scappers)
3. Persons pulling crab pots from private piers.
Another PRIME example of the confusion between the 'Summary' and COMAR. My interpretation of the law here says you may only use dipnets or use handlines on Wednesdays, either from shore or on a boat. A rare exception to the Wednesday rule is if that particular
Wednesday falls ON a State or Federal holiday, or the day BEFORE a State or Federal holiday (i.e., Wednesday, July 3rd or Wednesday, July 4th), then it is legal to set crabbing gear on that particular
Another Wednesday exception - when it comes to tending pots from a private waterfront property, the property owner or leasee may set (2) pots and tend them 24/7. These pots can be up to 100 yds from shore so a boat would be necessary to tend these pots.
Again, the judge will use COMAR in deciding your case. Like the saying goes, 'ignorance of the law is no excuse'.