If you’re getting a commercial fishing business started, you know there’s a lot that goes into being successful. Before you can get out on the water and do a job that you love, you need to be sure that all of your paperwork is in order and that includes your NOAA fisheries permit. There are several permit types and the right one allows you to fish in specific regions and for specific species. Some fishermen have more than one permit. The guide will tell you everything you need to know.
The Importance of the United States Coast Guard
Operating a commercial fishing business in the United States is exciting, but also a big responsibility. It’s an industry that is highly regulated on several levels, including state, federal and local. The United States Coast Guard is the federal entity tasked with enforcing federal commercial fishing laws, including those outlined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Being caught on the water without the proper documentation puts you at risk of fines and penalties, so be sure you always have it with you.
Do I Need a NOAA Fisheries Permit?
There are a set of requirements that your vessel must meet to be eligible for registration with the US Coast Guard. If so, you will likely need a permit to conduct your commercial fishing operation. Those requirements are as follows:
- The weight of your vessel is more than 5 net tons
- You will be conducting fishing business in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
If these pertain to you, you will need to register your vessel with the Coast Guard and receive a Certificate of Documentation before you can do any type of commercial fishing. This documentation must be renewed on a regular basis, so pay attention to expiration dates, going forward. Many people find that setting an alert keeps them on top of this, as fishing with an expired license can result in fines and penalties.
What Other Documentation Do I Need?
There are several important pieces of documentation that you need as a commercial fisherman. In addition to your NOAA fisheries permit, you may also need state permits or local permits that allow you to fish where you are. Be sure you check the jurisdiction so that you have all of the appropriate permits before you go out on the water.
If any of your data changes, it’s important to submit updated paperwork to the US Coast Guard so that it’s always current. That includes contact information, a change of boat name, a transfer of ownership or anytime you notice an error on your current documentation. Making these changes is a necessary part of making sure that if you are stopped by the Coast Guard, you aren’t hit with fees or penalties that could cost you a lot of money.
Having the appropriate NOAA fisheries permit is a big part of being legally allowed to fish in federal waters. If you need help navigating the process or have questions, we’re here for you. Contact the Commercial Fishing Permits Center today to get started.