Unlock the Seas: How to Get a Commercial Fishing License in NC

Unlock the Seas: How to Get a Commercial Fishing License in NC

Are you ready to dive into the exciting world of commercial fishing in North Carolina? As we navigate through 2024, it’s essential to stay updated on the latest regulations and requirements for obtaining your NC Commercial Fishing License. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the licensing process step by step, ensuring you have all the information you need to start your fishing venture on the right foot.

Understanding NC Commercial Fishing License Types

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the application process, let’s take a closer look at the different types of commercial fishing licenses available in North Carolina:

Standard Commercial Fishing License (SCFL)

The Standard Commercial Fishing License (SCFL) is the most common license for commercial fishermen in NC. This license allows you to harvest and sell a wide variety of marine species, including finfish, crabs, shrimp, and more. With an SCFL, you can use a range of gear types, such as nets, lines, and pots, to catch your haul.

Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License (RSCFL)

If you’re a retired commercial fisherman aged 65 or older, you may be eligible for the Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License (RSCFL). This license grants you the same privileges as the SCFL but at a reduced cost, making it an attractive option for those who have dedicated their lives to the fishing industry.

Shellfish License

For those interested in harvesting and selling oysters, clams, scallops, and mussels, the Shellfish License is the way to go. This license is specifically tailored for shellfish harvesting and does not cover finfish or crustaceans. It’s important to note that additional permits may be required for certain shellfish species or harvest areas.

Fish Dealer License

If you plan to buy, sell, or process fish caught by licensed commercial fishermen, you’ll need to obtain a Fish Dealer License. This license is crucial for maintaining accurate records and reporting of seafood transactions, helping to ensure the sustainability and traceability of North Carolina’s marine resources.

NC Commercial Fishing License Eligibility & Requirements

Now that you’re familiar with the different license types, let’s discuss the eligibility criteria and requirements for obtaining an NC Commercial Fishing License in 2024:

Age and Residency Requirements

To apply for a commercial fishing license in NC, you must be at least 16 years old. If you’re under 18, you’ll need to provide a parent or guardian’s signature on your application form. While there are no strict residency requirements, non-residents may face higher license fees compared to North Carolina residents.

Proof of Identification

When submitting your license application, you’ll need to provide a valid government-issued ID, such as:

Make sure your identification document is up to date and clearly legible to avoid any processing delays.

Vessel Requirements

If you plan to use a vessel for commercial fishing, it must be registered with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) and display a valid Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration (CFVR) number. This requirement helps the DMF monitor and manage fishing activities in North Carolina’s waters.

Training and Certifications

Depending on the species you target and the gear you use, you may be required to complete additional training or obtain specific certifications. For example:

  • For-Hire Fishing Vessel Operator’s License: Required for individuals operating vessels that carry passengers for hire on fishing trips.
  • Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Certification: Mandatory for shrimp trawlers to minimize the incidental capture of sea turtles.
  • Federal Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Permit: Necessary for harvesting shark, swordfish, and tuna in federal waters.

Be sure to research and obtain any necessary training or certifications before applying for your commercial fishing license.

How to Apply for Your NC Commercial Fishing License

With the eligibility requirements and license types in mind, let’s walk through the application process step by step:

Application Process Overview

  1. Visit the NC DMF website (www.ncmarinefisheries.net) and download the appropriate license application form for your desired license type.
  2. Fill out the application form completely and accurately, providing all required personal and vessel information.
  3. Gather all necessary supporting documents, such as proof of identification, vessel registration, and any required training or certification documents.
  4. Submit your completed application, along with the required documents and payment, either by mail or in-person at a DMF office.

Required Documents

When submitting your NC Commercial Fishing License application, make sure to include the following documents:

  • Completed and signed application form
  • Copy of a valid government-issued ID
  • Proof of vessel registration (if applicable)
  • Any required training or certification documents

Double-check that all documents are current, legible, and complete to ensure a smooth application process.

Fees and Payment Methods

License fees for NC Commercial Fishing Licenses vary based on the license type, vessel size, and residency status. As of 2024, the base fees are as follows:

  • SCFL: $400 for residents, $800 for non-residents
  • RSCFL: $200 for residents, $400 for non-residents
  • Shellfish License: $100 for residents, $200 for non-residents
  • Fish Dealer License: $100 for residents, $200 for non-residents

You can pay your license fees via check, money order, or credit card. If paying by check, make it payable to the “NC Division of Marine Fisheries”.

Processing Time and License Delivery

Once your application is received, the DMF will process it within 10-15 business days. Upon approval, your NC Commercial Fishing License will be mailed to the address provided on your application. If you have any questions or concerns during the processing period, don’t hesitate to contact the DMF for assistance.

NC Commercial Fishing Regulations and Limitations

To ensure the long-term sustainability of North Carolina’s marine resources, commercial fishermen must adhere to various regulations and limitations. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Fishing Seasons and Quotas

Many commercially targeted species in North Carolina are subject to seasonal closures and harvest quotas. These regulations help maintain healthy fish populations and prevent overfishing. Stay informed about current seasons and quotas by regularly checking the NC DMF website or subscribing to their email updates.

Gear Restrictions

Certain fishing gears may be prohibited or restricted in specific areas or during certain times of the year. Familiarize yourself with the gear regulations for your target species and fishing locations to avoid any violations. The DMF provides detailed information on gear restrictions and requirements on their website.

Catch Reporting Requirements

As a licensed commercial fisherman in North Carolina, you are required to report your catches through the Trip Ticket Program. This program helps the DMF monitor fish populations, assess the health of the state’s fisheries, and make informed management decisions. Make sure to accurately record and submit your catch data in a timely manner to remain compliant with reporting requirements.


Obtaining your NC Commercial Fishing License in 2024 is a crucial step towards building a successful and sustainable fishing career in North Carolina. By understanding the license types, eligibility requirements, and application process, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the regulatory landscape and contribute to the responsible management of the state’s marine resources.

Remember to stay informed about the latest regulations, quotas, and reporting requirements by regularly visiting the NC Division of Marine Fisheries website and subscribing to their updates. With your NC Commercial Fishing License in hand, you’re ready to embark on a rewarding journey in the commercial fishing industry.

Best of luck in your fishing endeavors, and may your nets always be full!

For more information on fishing licenses and regulations in other states, visit fishinglicenceusa.com, your go-to resource for all things fishing licenses in the USA.

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