Overview of the Federal Commercial Fishing Permit Process

federal commercial fishing permit

Are you a vessel owner with the United States Coast Guard? Do you need help getting a federal commercial fishing permit and feeling overwhelmed by the required documentation? In such a case, there is no need for an alarm. We are here to provide you with a helpful overview of the entire permitting process and to ensure that you understand precisely what is required for your vessel to be licensed for commercial fishing. 

In addition, we want to make sure that you know exactly what is needed for your boat to be able to carry out commercial fishing. We hope that by providing you with this guidance, we will clear up any misunderstanding or dissatisfaction you may have about acquiring your federal commercial fishing permit in a timely and straightforward manner.

What Are Commercial Fishing Licenses?

There is a lot of overlap between driver’s licenses and a federal commercial fishing permit. The government issues them so that individuals may participate in an activity that might endanger them or others, and it regulates the movement to ensure it is done safely. Rather than driving, though, the action here is commercial fishing. 

Fishing boats can operate around the clock and in any weather, thanks to various fuel options. Numerous licenses and authorizations are needed for this. To engage in commercial fishing, you must first get a fishing license. A saltwater recreational fishing license is the minimum need for fishing from vessels under 16 feet in length and driven by an engine of no more than 20 horsepower. 

You do not need to get this license if you plan on fishing from your boat or someone else’s boat with a valid commercial fishing license. Commercial fishers must have their trawl and bottom fish licenses on board as evidence of payment for their federal permits, even if they do not possess a recreational license or their vessel needs to meet the requirements for one.

What Types of Permits are Available?

Whether you’re a recreational fisherman looking to take your hobby to the next level, or a business owner interested in expanding your brand, commercial fishing is an exciting and rewarding career. It’s a way to earn a living while doing something you love. Getting started in commercial fishing isn’t easy—there are a lot of regulations involved, and it cannot be obvious trying to figure out what you need and how to get it. Fortunately, the federal government makes it relatively easy to get all the permits you’ll need to start fishing commercially. A lot of this depends on whether you’ve already got your boat, but there are six main permits you’ll typically need:

  • A business permit
  • A Tuna Permit
  • A Catch Certificate Permit
  •  A fish dealer’s license
  • An Interstate Fisherman’s License
  • A worker permit

What Do I Need For The Application Process?

Before you can begin the process of applying for a federal commercial fishing permit, there are some things you need to do. You’ll need to find a fishery that is open to commercial fishermen, and you’ll want to look up the rules and regulations for the fishery. For example, if you’re going to catch crabs from a boat in Maryland, you’ll need to look up the rules and regulations for crab fishing in Maryland. 

And if you’re going to fish for flounder in South Carolina, you’ll need to look up the rules and regulations for flounder fishing in South Carolina. Once you figure out where your fishery is, it’s time to get your application materials together. You’ll need the following:

  • A copy of your boat’s USCG Documentation (if applicable)
  • Your vessel registration number (if applicable)
  • Your vessel documentation number (if applicable)
  • An accurate map of your harvesting area, including all water depths and any nearby islands or shoals within one nautical mile of your harvesting area (you will be given coordinates for each point on the map)

federal commercial fishing permit

How Long Does It Take To Get A Federal Commercial Fishing Permit?

It takes an average of 7.5 months to get a federal commercial fishing license, but it may take considerably longer. Every year, around 6,000 permissions are granted. Applying for a permit via the Commercial Fishing Permits Center is the initial step in the licensing process. You need to know what kind of fish or shellfish you wish to catch, as well as the specific location or locations where you want to fish before you can apply for a license. 

Your species of choice may not be included on NOAA’s website, but you can always ask them to add it. The next stage is to arrange a fishing schedule, deciding whether you’ll be fishing alone or in a group. At least two members must have a common ancestor or spouse to qualify as a family unit.

If you’re a commercial fisherman looking to get a fish permit, look no further. The Commercial Fishing Permits Center is the place to go. You can reach us by phone or through our email, we’ll be happy to discuss the process details with you and answer any other questions you may have.

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