Understanding NOAA Fishing Licenses

noaa fishing licenses

A NOAA fishing license is required for a commercial fishing business, but the guidelines vary by region. It’s important to understand the differences so that you obtain the correct fishing license for your area. In addition to using the proper boat and fishing equipment, it’s vital to have the correct fishing license to avoid fines and other problems. This guide will help you understand fishing licenses issued by NOAA so that you can be sure you have the right one. 

Regions Where Licenses are Issued

It’s important to apply for a fishing license in the region in which you plan to conduct your fishing business. The United States is divided into six regions. Keep in mind that the region you need to apply for is where you’re fishing, which is likely where you live, but may differ if you travel for your fishing business. The regions are as follows:

  • Alaska
  • Southeast
  • New England/Mid-Atlantic
  • Pacific Islands 
  • West Coast
  • Atlantic Highly Migratory Species

When you apply for your fishing license, be sure you are doing so in the proper region so that you are fishing legally. Different types of catch are covered by the licenses.

Purpose of a Fishing License

Because there are several kinds of fishing licenses, it’s important to be sure you apply for the correct one. A recreational fishing license varies greatly from a commercial fishing license. And the type of commercial fishing license you need depends on your region, but also the capacity in which you will be fishing. The right licenses make your commercial fishing business legitimate so be sure you apply for the correct one as you get started. 

Differences Between State and Federal Fishing Licenses

The main difference here is where you’re fishing. Federal waters are those that are three to two hundred nautical miles from shore. From the shore to three miles out is typically considered state waters. Various bodies of water have their own set of guidelines regarding fishing so it’s important to familiarize yourself with what they are so you apply for the proper license. In addition, some fishing licenses are restricted to specific species so that is an additional consideration. You can apply for more than one fishing license if your commercial fishing business covers more than one region or body of water. It’s important to only fish where you have a license so wait for it to be granted before conducting business in the water.

noaa fishing licenses

How to Apply for a Commercial Fishing License

Applying for a license is simple when you do so online. Using our website, you can select whether you’re applying for a state or federal fishing license. If necessary, you can narrow that down to the region where you plan to run your commercial fishing business. Then you’ll fill out the requested information and submit your application, along with any requested documentation. Then, once your application is approved, you’re ready to hit the water and start fishing. Remember that you can apply for more than one fishing license concurrently, so it makes sense to get them all submitted at the same time. 

Need help with the NOAA fishing license process? We’re here to help. Contact the Commercial Fishing Permits Center today for the assistance you need. 

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