What Can You Use a Federal Fishing License for?

federal fishing license

Some people just are not meant to work within the confines of an office or cubicle. While others may be inclined to a life of spreadsheets and emails, maybe you have a hankering for working with your hands in the great outdoors. If that description suits you, it may be worth considering a career in commercial or industrial fishing. If you have a passion for angling, and the constitution necessary for rough conditions, you can get a lucrative livelihood by engaging in the ancient trade of catching and selling fish. As the hit television show “Deadliest Catch,” does well to illustrate, though, fishing for a living is tough work. On top of handling heavy, sharp equipment, you also have to contend with choppy seas and treacherous weather, sometimes for days on end. Because of this, it is a must that you thoroughly prepare before you leave the dock. As you go to check your fuel levels, life jackets, and first aid supplies, you are also going to want to make sure that you have a valid and current federal fishing license.

You may very well be drawn to commercial fishing as a career because of the simplicity it affords. The act of catching a fish and selling it at the market is a long-standing professional vocation in the United States and throughout the world. While this may seem so fundamental in nature that the idea of doing paperwork does not make a lot of sense, there are good reasons you will need a federal fishing license. At a very basic level, commercial fishing involves the practice of extracting a natural resource and selling it for a profit. Because of this, it makes sense that there would be some regulation involved at both the state and federal levels. In the United States, commercial fishing is also a massive, multi-billion dollar industry that creates more than one million jobs annually. With so much money at stake, keeping track of who is accessing our fisheries makes a lot of sense. Read on to learn more about commercial fishing permits, as well as how you can obtain yours online.

Knowing the Different Types of State Commercial Fishing Permits

In your years of fishing as a pastime, you have likely learned one thing for certain: you have to go where the fish are biting. This, of course, also applies to the practice of commercial fishing. At the outset of mapping out your business and figuring out what you will seek to catch, and whom you will sell it to, this will somewhat determine where you will be fishing. Typically, waters that fall under state jurisdiction are anything between the shore and three nautical miles out from the coast. Your local state agency will also regulate any inland waters. It can vary a bit from state to state, but most often, you can expect to require a basic commercial fishing license. In addition, many states offer species-specific permits and endorsements that you may also require to fish commercially. 

Before you gear up your boat or hire a crew, you are going to want to get well acquainted with the laws in your state. It is also worth noting that some states, particularly in New England, share basic reciprocity with other states with regard to commercial fishing permits. 

How to Get a Federal Fishing License

Working as a commercial fisherman can be a somewhat nomadic line of work. As you drift out farther and farther from shore to catch the fish you are looking for, it stands to reason that you may find yourself in federal waters. The area of the United States coastline between three and 200 nautical miles is under federal jurisdiction. Permits for fisheries on federal waters are issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As this government agency has a fairly staggering amount of territory to monitor and regulate, they divide up their permits by region. You can acquire species-specific licenses for Alaska, the Atlantic, the West Coast, the Pacific Islands, and the South. Whether you are fishing for lobster in Maine, or halibut in Alaska, there is a specific permit that you will need to obtain from the NOAA.

 federal fishing license

Obtain Your Fishing License Online Today!

To get the permits you need, you have a couple of options. You can visit either your state’s appropriate website, or that of the NOAA, locate PDF copies of the applications you need, and print them out. You can then fill out these documents by hand and mail them to the correct location for processing. If that sounds like a bit of a hassle, though, there is a simpler way. At the Commercial Fishing Permits Center, we have online forms that you can use to apply for all the permits and licenses you need on one convenient website. 

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