How to Start a Fishing Business with The Right Permits

how to start a fishing business

Going out fishing can make for a perfect day. The sun on your face, your family or friends by your side, letting the hours pass by as you reel in fish. If fishing is truly your passion and most favored pastime, the chances are good that the idea of doing it for a living has crossed your mind once or twice. If you live near the coast or a prominent inland fishery, you may be wondering just how to start a fishing business?

Between cultivating a business plan, gathering the right gear, and obtaining the correct commercial fishing permits, the process of starting your own fishing operation can seem daunting. In truth, with a little organization and planning, you can be ready to leave the dock and start generating revenue in no time. Read on to learn more.

how to start a fishing business

How to Start a Fishing Business – Basic First Steps

America is built on the courage and strength of small business owners. Starting your business can mean long hours and financial commitments that not everyone is willing to make. A commercial or industrial fishing operation is no exception to this. If the call to start selling your catch is too strong to resist, and you are interested in creating your own business, there are some initial steps to take.

First, you are going to want to do a fair amount of research. What type of business are you interested in starting? Are you going to be running fishing charters, allowing customers to fish under your guidance and tutelage for a fee? Or, are you going to opt for the more traditional commercial fishing route? If it is the latter, you will then need to determine what you will be fishing for.

A good place to start here would be to assess just what is available in your area. Depending on the U.S. geography that you find yourself in, there may be regional-specific species that can command a high dollar. This should all be a part of your due diligence and market research that you complete as a part of your business plan. Obviously, your business will need to be profitable in order to succeed, so locating market opportunities can be a prudent entrepreneurial maneuver.

Getting the Right Gear and Hiring a Crew

Depending on your commercial fishing business plan, you may need to upgrade your boat. If you are going to be running fishing charters, you will likely want a larger, newer, and cleaner vessel to entice potential customers. Having a restroom onboard can also make a sizable impact, and a small galley for preparing food for your guests can also set you apart from your competitors. 

If you are opting for a more traditional catch-and-sell commercial fishing business, you still might need a new boat. Depending on what you will be catching, you may need to install the necessary equipment for trapping or long-lining. If you are particularly ambitious, you also may need to hire a small crew to assist you.

As any business owner will tell you, hiring the right employees is difficult. It is also a cornerstone to operating a functional business. Make sure that you staff your crew with experienced fishermen who understand the waters you will be fishing on. A seasoned crew will also have a strong foundational knowledge of safety practices. If you have ever watched “Deadliest Catch”, you know that commercial fishing can be an especially dangerous line of work. Having a crew that knows what they are doing is crucial to making sure that you make it back to land in good health.

Obtaining the Correct Commercial Fishing Permits

Part of the appeal of starting a fishing business is having a career where you work with your hands. You are not interested in toiling away in a cubicle, pushing paper, or staring at a screen. Still, you should know that commercial fishing is a tightly-regulated business. In order to operate your enterprise in a legal way, you will need to acquire the correct commercial or industrial fishing permits.

Determining the permits that you will need depends on a couple of factors. Firstly, you will have to consider if you are fishing in state or federal waters (or both). State waters are typically zero to three nautical miles from shore. Federal waters occupy the area from three to 200 nautical miles from land. These different jurisdictions will call for different types of permits. Federal fishing permits are issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while state permits can be obtained through your local government agency.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to obtain the permits that you need online. At the Commercial Fishing Permits Center, we are a private service that helps business owners such as yourself apply for the permits you need in just a matter of minutes. We offer easy-to-fill online forms and a secure, encrypted web portal for transmitting your information safely. Take a minute or two to browse our website–you can quickly find the form you need and eliminate the hassle of printing out and mailing a stack of documents.

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