captahab416

MA fishing laws, protect yourself

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Robs encounter with that unsavory gentleman prompted me to finally get my act together. I have had some run ins as well but never had the laws printed out to back me up. Did some poking around and this is what I could gather. Im not a lawyer but I would imagine this would be enough to cover you if you find yourself in a similar predicament. All info was copy and pasted straight from the mass.gov

 

Massachusetts General Laws

Chapter 91: Massachusetts Public Waterfront Act Overview

The Commonwealth's primary tool for protection and promotion of public use of its tidelands and other waterways is Massachusetts General Law Chapter 91, the waterways licensing program. The Commonwealth formally established the program in 1866, but the philosophy behind Chapter 91 dates back to the earliest days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, most notably in the Colonial Ordinances of 1641-1647.The Colonial Ordinances codified the "public trust doctrine," a legal principle that dates back nearly 2000 years, which holds that the air, the sea and the shore belong not to any one person, but rather to the public at large. Through Chapter 91, the Commonwealth seeks to preserve and protect the rights of the public, and to guarantee that private uses of tidelands and waterways serve a proper public purpose. The Waterways Regulation Program, the section of MassDEP that oversees Chapter 91, is the primary division charged with implementing the "public trust doctrine." Specifically, the MassDEP Waterways Regulation Program:

Preserves pedestrian access along the water's edge for fishing, fowling and navigation. Seeks to protect and extend public strolling rights, as well as public navigation rights. More than ever, the presence of a program like Chapter 91 is vital, especially because many of the fastest growing regions of the state, such as the North Shore, South Shore and Cape Cod and the Islands, are coastal areas. In these coastal areas, Chapter 91 regulations serve to protect traditional maritime industries, such as fishing and shipping, from displacement by commercial or residential development.

 

Tidelands as defined by Chapter 91 present and former submerged lands and tidal flats lying below the mean high water mark. ''Private tidelands'', tidelands held by a private party subject to an easement of the public for the purposes of navigation and free fishing and fowling and of passing freely over and through the water.

 

Part 1, Title 29, Chapter 91, Section 2: Duties of public works department relative to commonwealth lands

The department shall, except as otherwise provided, have charge of the lands, rights in lands, flats, shores and rights in tide waters belonging to the commonwealth, and shall, as far as practicable, ascertain the location, extent and description of such lands; investigate the title of the commonwealth thereto; ascertain what parts thereof have been granted by the commonwealth; the conditions, if any, on which such grants were made, and whether said conditions have been complied with; what portions have been encroached or trespassed on, and the rights and remedies of the commonwealth relative thereto; prevent further encroachments and trespasses; ascertain what portions of such lands may be leased, sold or improved with benefit to the commonwealth and without injury to navigation or to the rights of riparian owners; and may lease the same. It may sell and convey, or lease, any of the islands owned by the commonwealth in the great ponds. It may make contracts for the improvement, filling, sale, use or other disposition of the lands at and near South Boston known as the Commonwealth flats, may lease any portion thereof with or without improvements thereon, may regulate the taking of material from the harbor and fix the lines thereon for filling said lands. All conveyances and contracts, and all leases for more than five years, made under this section shall be subject to the approval of the governor and council.

In carrying out its duties under the provisions of this chapter, the department shall act to preserve and protect the rights in tidelands of the inhabitants of the commonwealth by ensuring that the tidelands are utilized only for water-dependent uses or otherwise serve a proper public purpose.

The department of environmental protection shall protect the interests of the commonwealth in areas described herein in issuing any license or permit authorized pursuant to this chapter. The activities of the department of environmental management pursuant to this chapter shall be subject to the licensing and permitting authority of the department of environmental protection.

 

Part 1, Title 29, Chapter 131, Section 5C: Obstruction or interference with lawful taking of fish or wildlife; remedies

 

Obstruction or interference with lawful taking of fish or wildlife; remedies Section 5C. No person shall obstruct, interfere with or otherwise prevent the lawful taking of fish or wildlife by another at the locale where such activity is taking place. It shall be a violation of this section for a person to intentionally (1) drive or disturb wildlife or fish for the purpose of interrupting a lawful taking; (2) block, follow, impede or otherwise harass another who is engaged in the lawful taking of fish or wildlife; (3) use natural or artificial visual, aural, olfactory or physical stimulus to effect wildlife in order to hinder or prevent such taking; (4) erect barriers with the intent to deny ingress or egress to areas where the lawful taking of wildlife may occur; (5) interject himself into the line of fire; (6) effect the condition or placement of personal or public property intended for use in the taking of wildlife; or (7) enter or remain upon public lands, or upon private lands without the permission of the owner or his agent, with intent to violate this section. The superior court shall have jurisdiction to issue an injunction to enjoin any such conduct or conspiracy in violation of the provisions of this section. A person who sustains damage as a result of any act which is in violation of this section may bring a civil action for punitive damages. Environmental protection officers and other law enforcement officers with arrest powers shall be authorized to enforce the provisions of this section. This section shall not apply to the owners of the lands or waters or tenants or other persons acting under the authority of such owners of the lands or waters.

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Nice work man.

 

I’ve found that the best way to explain it to people is that the public has the right to fish, fowl, or navigate below the high tide mark, nearly everywhere in the state, regardless of who owns the land. The more important caveat to that is that you must be able to access the spot legally, meaning you can’t travel through posted land to get there.

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41 mins ago, JTR said:

Nice work man.

 

I’ve found that the best way to explain it to people is that the public has the right to fish, fowl, or navigate below the high tide mark, nearly everywhere in the state, regardless of who owns the land. The more important caveat to that is that you must be able to access the spot legally, meaning you can’t travel through posted land to get there.

Unless of course you get permission. But yes thats it in a nutshell.

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Thanks for getting this up for all to see and make a copy of . This law also includes all fresh water ways that are GREAT PONDs . You can fish the shore line as long as you have a legal entrance to walk through . The Department of Environmental Protection enforce this law as well as the local police,if the circumstances call for such enforcement . 

Like I have posted many times here having this copy in your glove compartment may well turn things around if you are being harassed by some well healed house owner that may live along such water ways. :howdy:

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Along with that info its wise to educate yourself in the mass coastal infrastructure inventory and assessment project. 

 

You’ll see the jetties and such that are town owned and not private. This is critical for those rare occasions when a seasonal stiff tries to claim the jetty you are fishing is private and tries shoo you off. 

Edited by Chemikillz

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Good question for this group- I can legally get below the high tide mark, and have a good distance to walk to a spot I want to fish. Can I legally cross someones dock floating dock that is resting on the sand/mud?

 

...I'm not a good jumper if you're feeling smart...

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8 mins ago, BFThunter said:

Good question for this group- I can legally get below the high tide mark, and have a good distance to walk to a spot I want to fish. Can I legally cross someones dock floating dock that is resting on the sand/mud?

 

...I'm not a good jumper if you're feeling smart...

I would cross over a private jetty to get to where I was going....

 

If I needed to walk above the high water mark to get around a resting dock I would do that. It would seem pretty clear that you are avoiding walking on it. 

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This was answered in that other “get out of my pond” thread. 

 

Docks are required to have some kind of abilty to allow people to pass over or around. 

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13 hours ago, gulino12 said:

This was answered in that other “get out of my pond” thread. 

 

Docks are required to have some kind of abilty to allow people to pass over or around. 

Thanks for the direction- looks like I'm good. There's no way to go around or under it, so it looks like I'm going over! 

 

 

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Read the other thread, and find the post about this. If I recall t had a link to the mgl 

52 mins ago, BFThunter said:

Thanks for the direction- looks like I'm good. There's no way to go around or under it, so it looks like I'm going over! 

 

 

 

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