How Does the Small Vessel MARAD Waiver Relate to Commercial Fishing Permits?

MARAD Waiver

The short answer is that they don’t apply at all. The MARAD waiver for small vessels applies to passenger boats, not commercial fishing boats. The permit process is entirely separate, but it’s important to apply for the proper permits for the intended purpose of your boat. This is vital for legal and registration purposes and protects you from fines, should you be caught using your boat for a reason you aren’t permitted for. Keep reading to find out more.

MARAD Small Vessel Waiver

The MARAD waiver is part of the Jones Act and requires boats used for commerce in the United States to also be built in the United States. The purpose of the waiver is to protect American commerce. 

There are a few exceptions to the waiver that allow certain small vessels to be used for business reasons, even if they are built outside the country. It allows for small vessels that transport passengers but cannot be used for commercial fishing, towing, dredging or salvage. 

Having a small vessel waiver does not allow you to fish and sell your catch for monetary reasons. You will need a commercial fishing license for that purpose. When you apply for the small vessel waiver, you will be required to declare the intended purpose of the boat. If you declare commercial fishing, you can expect your application to be denied. 

How Does the Program Work?

The MARAD small vessel waiver program allows you to use a boat to transport passengers in a business capacity, even if it is foreign-built. However, not everyone qualifies. Eligibility relies on several conditions, which are as follows:

  • The boat is owned by a United States citizen or entity
  • The boat is at least three years old
  • The boat’s intended use is to carry 12 or fewer passengers when in service
  • The boat meets United Coast Guard requirements

It’s important to meet all of the requirements or your small vessel waiver application will likely be denied. 

MARAD Waiver

Commercial Fishing Licenses

A commercial fishing license allows you to fish or commerce in United States waters. While there are guidelines and restrictions regarding what species can be caught and in what quantities, you will need the license, whether you’re fishing in a large or small capacity. The commercial fishing license you apply for depends on where you intend to operate and are divided by region. The regions are as follows:

  • Alaska Region
  • Atlantic Region (divided into Mid-Atlantic and New England)
  • South Region (divided into the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic)
  • West Coast Region
  • Pacific Island Region

Be sure you apply for the proper region to avoid legal trouble and fees associated with fishing without a permit. Each of the regions has specific guidelines so become familiar with those so you are applying properly. 

Now that you know why the MARAD waiver small vessel program doesn’t have anything to do with commercial fishing permits, you can decide which permit to apply for. Applying online is easy and fast. Contact the Online Fishing Permits Center today for help with each step along the way or for answers to your questions about applying. 

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