California Commercial Fishing Licenses: An Overview

commercial fishing

With its warm weather and bountiful waters, the California coastline is a fisherman’s dream. For commercial fishing, California also offers ample opportunity to generate income. By understanding the rules and regulations that surround California commercial and industrial fishing licenses, you can better position your business for financial success.

What Is Considered Commercial Fishing?

Fishing for your own leisure and commercial trapping and fishing do differ in definition, though in the state of California both modes require a license. In short, fishing for commercial purposes is when you take your catch to market. This means selling your catch directly from your boat or selling it from a market. 

With an aim to protect buyers, California has rules and regulations for commercial fish operations. Whether you are catching and selling cod, tuna, whitefish, or anything else, a license ensures that you are operating within the confines of the law.

commercial fishing

Non-Resident Vs. Resident

In California, there are different types of licenses for different types of commercial fish operators. The primary distinction is between “resident” and “non-resident”. As the names suggest, California residents require different licenses to fish commercially than non-residents do. To be considered a resident, you must have lived in California for a period of at least six months prior to their application date.

While both non-resident and resident commercial fish operator licenses afford fishermen the same permissions, the costs are significantly different. California currently charges non-residents $453.50 for a license, as opposed to just $153.73 for residents. There are some exceptions to the 6-month rule for residency, as well, including those for active members of the military or Job Corps.

Meeting The Right Requirements

Licenses can be complicated, and not always easy to understand. You may find yourself wondering, do I really need a commercial fisherman’s license? A good rule of thumb to consider is if you are selling your catch in any way, the answer is yes.

To put things more specifically, per the state of California, any individual over 16 years of age that is operating, or assisting in operating a boat that catches fish to sell requires a license. A license is also required for anyone who helps on a fishing boat in any meaningful way. If your commercial fish operation boat has a crew, it is wise to ensure that your staff is appropriately licensed.

Registrations, Stamps, And More

While a license to fish commercially is a needed starting point for any fish catching and selling busy, you may need additional registrations. California offers (and often requires) many stamps and registrations that accompany a license. These include permits for different types of games, registrations for passenger fishing vessels, and commercial aircraft that aid in catching fish.

Make Sure Your Application Is Complete 

As with obtaining any sort of permit or verification, seeking a license to fish commercially is not always as easy as filling out a simple form. At the end of the day, a license is crucial to the health of your business, so you want to ensure the accuracy of your application. By working with one of our experienced service representatives, you can obtain your California fishing license in a timely fashion.

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