How Does the Maryland Commercial Fishing License Work?

Commercial Fishing License

Commercial fishermen in Maryland must be familiar with the state’s commercial fishing license requirements, but how does it work? It is unlike any other license and even differs from licenses issued in other locations. These permits, often referred to as “blue cards” in certain circles, significantly contribute to the fact that Maryland is desirable for commercial fishers. The Commercial Fishing Permits Center provides access to various fishing permits, each specific to particular fishing activity. 

In this article, we will walk you through the steps of the licensing procedure and describe the various kinds of licenses at your disposal. In addition to that, we will explain the steps you need to take each year to keep your license current. The following is information that is important to you:

Your License Is Valid For One Year from the Date of Purchase

You’ve decided to go fishing in Maryland, eh? Perhaps you’ve spent your whole life in this area and learned to capture blue crabs when you were young. The fantastic fishing opportunities here may have enticed you to make the trip, or maybe you’re just passing through for the weekend and want to spend some time on the water. However, we realize how frightening it may be not to know what has to be done to get started, so we’re here to assist!

Remember that your license will only be valid for a single year from the date of purchase. Although various types of licenses are available in Maryland, the one that will allow you to fish for profit is a “commercial fishing license.” This kind of commercial fishing license is also called a “hook-and-line” license since it does not permit the use of nets or trawling gear in federal waters (more on that in a minute). The good news is that getting this license is accessible to anybody who fits the criteria.

You Must Carry Your License with You While Fishing

While fishing, you must have a valid fishing license. Whether you’re taking the boat out or just stepping into the water, you won’t be able to leave without this. What you’re looking for is essential, so get it. The same rule applies if you’re hoping to bring some fish home for dinner. Getting this license is also essential if you plan on consuming fish for legal reasons. Be aware that certain fish species are off-limits to humans due to environmental concerns. For example, if you capture a gray trout in Maryland, you can’t bring it home and cook it for dinner.

Checking the legality of the fish you capture to consume is just half the battle; you also need to know what kinds of fishing techniques are allowed. You might get in trouble and face a substantial fine on top of the cost of the license if you try to employ a trapping technique that sounds like it would be quick and efficient, such as putting up a gill net but isn’t authorized for whatever reason, such as environmental concerns.

Your Commercial Fishing License Is Not Transferable and Is Only Valid For the Vessel Listed On the Permit

Since your license is not transferable, there is no way for you to acquire a new one and use the name of another person. This implies that the owner of a vessel is only allowed to have a single license for that vessel. Additionally, your permit is only valid for the vessel mentioned on it; if you own more than one boat or decide to switch boats in the middle of the season, you will be required to get a new permit for your new boat. If you already own a boat and have a valid license but later wish to upgrade to a larger vessel, you will need to get a second license to operate the larger vessel legally. To continue fishing, you must purchase a new boat if your previous one is destroyed in an accident or by fire.

Commercial Fishing License

You Are Responsible For Complying With All Size, Possession, and Landing Restrictions

Whether you’re a Maryland citizen or not, knowing the commercial fishing laws and regulations is essential before purchasing a commercial fishing license. The types and sizes of fish you may keep and sell are limited. While only female and soft-shell crabs should be kept, larger specimens of any type are permitted. It’s best to wait until the soft-shell crabs harden back up or reach a minimum of 5 inches in diameter before releasing them (average measurement). 

Soft shells must be 5 inches in diameter (average measurement) to be sold. Eels, conches, and oysters are all protected species you cannot keep as pets. They can’t be bought or sold by your ship or even brought aboard because of the restrictions in your license. Only fish obtained using the proper gear, dip nets and lift nets may be sold under this license.

We’re here to help you learn more about getting a commercial fishing license in Maryland. To get started, call us at (866) 292-4204. Our knowledgeable representatives can answer any questions and give you all the details you need to make the process go smoothly.

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