Commercial Fishing Permits: Pricing, How to Apply, and More

commercial fishing permits

Commercial fishing is a big business in the U.S. and global economies. In 2019 alone, commercial fishermen netted nearly 9 billion pounds of seafood on American waters. With billions of dollars and millions of livelihoods generated and supported by commercial fishing, it is an industry that is always attracting newcomers. If you have found yourself looking into this particular career path, you should begin your research by learning a bit about commercial fishing permits.

Because so much money is on the line, and because fishing can be a physically demanding and dangerous type of work, it is a fairly well-regulated industry. Part of that system of regulations is the issuance of permits, licenses, and endorsements for species- and region-specific commercial fishing. Keep reading to learn more about the ins and outs of commercial and industrial fishing permits. 

commercial fishing permits

Knowing Your Region

The United States is a massive country in comparison to most other nations. With thousands of miles of coastline, the U.S. is home to expansive federal waters. Typically existing in the space of three to 200 nautical miles from shore, federal waters happen to encompass many robust fisheries for a wide array of fish.

With so many bodies of water to govern, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breaks down fishing permit jurisdictions by region. These geographic areas include:

  • Alaska
  • The Mid-Atlantic and New England
  • The West Coast
  • The Pacific Islands
  • The Southeast

As each region is home to its own unique species, there is a multitude of regional-specific permits available to commercial fishermen. Alaska, for example, is well-stocked with Chinook Salmon. In the Southeast of the Gulf of Mexico, trapping shrimp can be a lucrative line of work. If you have already established where you will be setting up your commercial fishing operation, you can begin determining which permits you will need.

Remember, while federal waters begin about three nautical miles from shore, the waters before that are typically regulated by the state. It is not unusual for a commercial fishing business to have to carry both state and federal permits, since they often have to go wherever the fish are biting.

The Cost of Commercial Fishing Permits

As the catch of the day can vary, so too does the cost of commercial fishing permits. Depending on the species you are going for, you will have to pay a fee to the NOAA. To give you a sense of what these costs can be, let’s take a look at some numbers from the Southeast region.

A Federal Permit Application for Vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone will run you about $25. A permit for fishing for Wreckfish costs $48. And a form to request the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act is $56. As you can see, while permits remain in the two-figure price range, they can quickly add up. With this in mind, it’s wise to try and get the permits you need in one fell swoop, so as to save time filling out documents and mailing them to the correct NOAA location.

How You Can Apply for Your Permits

The NOAA does make permit applications available for all permits in all regions. You can visit their website to locate the right permit forms for you. As you have likely encountered with government websites, they can be a real labyrinth when it comes to locate precisely what you need.

Once you have found your form, you can print it out, complete it in ink, write a check to the NOAA for the requisite fee, and mail it to the appropriate regional office. There are, however, ways of accomplishing this online as well.

Get Your Permits Online with Our Help

Let’s face it, as a commercial fisherman and business owner, your time is at a premium. You would prefer to spend less toiling with paperwork on land, and more time out on your boat generating revenue for yourself and your crew. Printing out a bunch of forms and going to the post office may be too much of a hassle for your business to afford.

Fortunately, there is an easier way. At the Commercial Fishing Permits Center, we offer an easy avenue for completing all of your permit applications online. Take a moment and browse around the navigation menus of our website. You will notice that we clearly lay out our available online forms by region, allowing you to quickly navigate to the application you need.

Our fillable web forms can also greatly reduce your time poring over the fine print and bureaucratic jargon. Simply enter your pertinent information and submit it via our secure, SSL-encrypted web portal. We have taken a process that used to take hours or even days and streamlined it down to just a few minutes. To learn more about how the Commercial Fishing Permits Center can help you acquire the permits that your business needs, contact one of our experienced customer service representatives today.

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