How to Start a Commercial Fishing Business

how to start a fishing business

For many people fishing is a hobby or even a passion. But for others, especially those near large bodies of water, fishing is a way of life – and that makes it a very profitable venture. Learning how to start a fishing business is both an exciting and rewarding experience as well, but there’s much more to starting your business than simply registering an LLC in your state. There is a great deal of planning that goes into creating your business such as acquiring the right gear, completing the right paperwork, and obtaining the right permits.

Here’s how you can get started on the process of creating and operating your own commercial fishing business. 

how to start a fishing business


Commercial fishing is very equipment-intensive. There’s certain equipment that all vessels are required to have, such as:

  • Life preservers or other personal flotation devices
  • Ring lifebuoys
  • Survival craft
  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • Emergency position indicating radio beacon

The required equipment is further broken down the size of your vessel and the area your vessel will be in (i.e. how far you will be from shore). Equipment will need to be placed or stored in specific areas depending on the size of your vessel, so as to make them easily identifiable and accessible. Further specifications vary by the items themselves. 

For example, paint lockers need to fire extinguishers with a minimum rating of 40-B while safety areas and communicating corridors have the minimum required rating of 2-A. Class B fire extinguishers are used on flammable liquid fires, such as paint igniting, and Class A fire extinguishers are for paper, wood, textiles, and plastics.

Familiarize yourself with the equipment that you will need based on the type of fishing that you plan to do and the vessel on which you’re going to do it. 

Business Plan

Once you have a good idea of the fishing aspect, it’s time to tackle the business end. The goals and guidelines that you establish help you get started in the short term as well as help you initiate conversations about the long-term objectives. This will legitimize your business to any future investors or other entrepreneurs that you decide to work with.

Your business plan will require you to do market research on the fishing industry. What are the biggest companies? What are the average profit margins? What are the key drivers in the industry? What are the important trends and statistics? 

In other words, what direction has the industry taken over the years, and what do these numbers imply for the future? While it’s unlikely that the fishing industry will ever disappear, all industries deal with their own periods of growth or stagnation, and it’s a good idea to know where the industry currently is before you try to break into it.


When people are researching how to start a fishing business, they’ll learn very quickly that it’s not something they can fund themselves. Most simply don’t have the capital or credit necessary, which is why your business plan is so important. You’ll need to get in touch with banks or other investors and present your plan to them. 

The plan does more than show that you’ve done your homework, it needs to incentivize them to give you the money that you need and that isn’t going to happen if they aren’t confident that they will receive something in return. Make sure that you clearly outline both the funds required to get started and the anticipated return on investment (or ROI) you can offer them.


This is arguably the most important part of how to start a fishing business that people need to take the time to understand. It doesn’t matter how well you know the market, how solid your business plan is, or if you have access to the necessary funding if you don’t have the right permits to actually go fishing. 

The permits you need to acquire will depend on a multitude of factors including your state, the size of your vessel, the type of fishing you are going to do, and the species of fish that you plan on catching.

There are a lot of different permits out there, so make sure that the applications that you submit are for the right documents. The easiest way to make sure that you do is to go through the Commercial Fishing Permits Center.

The Best Resource For Commercial Fishers Everywhere

Even without having to worry about documentation and permits, the process of how to start a fishing business can be a daunting one. We’re here to simplify it all by having every application you could possibly need here in one easily accessible place. And rather than having to send them to different agencies and bureaucratic offices, simply upload them to our website and we will make sure they get to the right place on your behalf. 

Not sure which forms are right for you? Call us at (866) 292-4204 and we can point you in the right direction, and answer any questions that you have along the way.

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