NOAA's national marine sanctuary offices and visitor centers are currently closed to the public, and in accordance with Executive Order 13991 - Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask Wearing, all individuals in NOAA-managed areas are required to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on mask-wearing and maintaining social distances. Sanctuary waters remain open for responsible use in accordance with CDC guidance, U.S. Coast Guard requirements, and local regulations. More information on the response from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries can be found on

Recreational Fishing

Recreational fishing is a popular activity in the sanctuary, with individuals visiting the sanctuary via private vessels and charter/party boats. Fishermen and women target a variety of species that use the different types of habitats found there. Click here to find out more about the most popular fish species caught in the sanctuary.

No permits are needed for recreational fishing in the sanctuary, but several federal regulations have been established that address fishing activities in the sanctuary. Be aware that fishing for striped bass and several species of sharks is illegal in federal waters. Click here to find out more about recreational fishing regulations.

If you are planning on taking a charter fishing excursion or joining a party boat, there are many companies operating in ports and harbors along the coast. Click here for a list of Massachusetts Party and Charter Boats maintained by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

Recreational fishing parties should use care in planning trips into the sanctuary, as weather and sea conditions can change quickly and drastically. Check marine forecasts before departure.

Click here for a list of boat access points around New England.

While federal law permits the disposal of fish wastes in federal and state waters, MARPOL, the law for the prevention of pollution at sea, spells out what can be disposed of and where, including the ban on the dumping of any plastics anywhere in the ocean. For the safety of marine life and an aesthetically and healthier sanctuary, it is recommended that all wastes be transported back to shore for proper disposal.

For the disposal of human wastes, use pumpout facilities located throughout the region. Click here for a listing of pumpout facilities in Massachusetts

An excellent free resource book on many aspects of recreational fishing can be obtained from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, entitled "Massachusetts Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide." To view an on-line version of the book, click here. To download a pdf version of the book, click here, or to obtain a printed version, visit or call one of the Massachusetts Recreational Fisheries Program Offices. Click here for address information.


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