Unlock the Seas: Your Guide to Commercial Fishing Licenses

Commercial fishing licenses are your ticket to legally reel in the big ones for profit. If you’re an experienced angler or a newbie looking to dip your toes into the commercial fishing waters, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of these licenses. State and federal agencies in the United States both regulate them. So, let’s dive in and navigate the sea of commercial fishing licenses and their regulations.

Types Of Commercial Fishing Licenses

Resident Fishing Licenses

Resident fishing licenses are for those who call the state they plan to fish in, home. They’re typically lighter on the wallet than non-resident licenses.

To snag one of these, you’ll need to show you’re a local. A driver’s license or utility bill should do the trick. Some states might also ask for proof that you’re employed in the fishing industry.

Non-Resident Fishing Licenses

Non-resident fishing licenses are for those who don’t reside in the state they plan to fish in. These licenses usually come with a heftier price tag than resident licenses.

To reel in a non-resident fishing license, you’ll need to provide proof of identification and residency, like a driver’s license or passport. Some states might also ask for proof that you’re employed in the fishing industry.

Special Permits

Special permits are needed for certain types of commercial fishing, like shellfish or lobster. These permits often come with extra regulations and requirements, like harvest limits or gear restrictions.

To apply for a special permit, you’ll need to provide additional documentation and meet specific eligibility criteria.

Regulations For Commercial Fishing

When you’re fishing commercially, you need to be aware of the regulations that apply to your license type and the area where you plan to fish. Some common regulations include:

  • Catch limits: Most states have catch limits for certain species of fish. These limits may vary depending on the time of year or the location where you plan to fish.
  • Gear restrictions: Some states have restrictions on the type of gear you can use for commercial fishing, like the size of the net or the type of hook.
  • Reporting requirements: Many states require commercial fishermen to report their catch and sales to the state agency responsible for fisheries management. This helps to ensure that fish populations are being properly managed and prevent overfishing.

Stay current on the regulations for your license type and the area where you plan to fish. Not doing so can result in fines, license revocation, or other penalties.


Getting a commercial fishing license can feel like navigating through a storm, but it’s essential if you plan to fish commercially. By understanding the different types of licenses and regulations, you can ensure that you’re fishing legally and responsibly. If you’re feeling lost at sea, don’t hesitate to reach out to your state’s fisheries management agency. They’re there to help you with any questions about commercial fishing licensing or regulations.


Q: What is a commercial fishing license? A: A commercial fishing license is a government-issued permit that allows an individual or a company to fish for commercial purposes. It’s different from a recreational fishing license, which is for non-commercial purposes.

Q: How do I apply for a commercial fishing license? A: The process varies by state, but generally, you need to submit an application form along with the required documents and fees. You may also need to provide proof of residency or citizenship, a fishing vessel registration, and a commercial fishing permit.

Q: What are the types of commercial fishing licenses? A: The types vary by state and the type of fish you want to catch. Some common types include shellfish, crab, lobster, shrimp, and finfish licenses. In some states, you may also need a separate permit for each type of fish you want to catch. Check with your state’s fish and wildlife agency for specific requirements.

Similar Posts