Commercial Fishing Permit

Application pdf format of commapp.pdf

All persons who land and sell finfish, shellfish, lobsters, edible crabs or other living marine resources in Massachusetts must have a commercial fishing permit from the Division of Marine Fisheries and must sell only to permitted Massachusetts dealers. Commercial permits may be endorsed for access to the many "regulated" fisheries. Regulated fisheries include most gear types (other than hook fishing), and species that are restricted by quota. For a complete list of regulated fisheries, see the endorsements section below. All commercial permits, except Rod & Reel and Seasonal lobster, may be endorsed for shellfish at no additional cost.

Clarification Letter Pertaining to Commercial Permit Holders Who Fish From a Boat or Boats pdf format of permitting_clarification_letter_112911.pdf

Commercial Permit Types

  • Coastal Lobster Permit allows the taking, landing and sale of lobsters (to a licensed dealer) harvested from within the coastal waters of the Commonwealth. There is a maximum of 800 lobster pots per vessel that may be set in state waters. The permit may be endorsed to take and sell shellfish and finfish at no additional cost. In the case of skin or scuba divers, only the licensee is covered.
  • Offshore Lobster Permit allows the landing and sale of lobsters (to a licensed dealer) taken outside of the coastal waters of the commonwealth only; pursuant to a federal lobster permit. The permit may be endorsed to take and sell shellfish and finfish at no additional cost.
  • Seasonal Lobster Permit is issued to full-time students only (verification required), and allows the licensee only to take and sell lobsters (to a licensed dealer) from June 15 - Sept. 15. A maximum of 25 pots may be used. Diving is not permitted, sale of fish and/or shellfish in not permitted.
  • Seasonal Lobster permit applicants must submit verification of full-time student status (letter attesting to full time status on school letterhead) & parental consent if under the age of seventeen.
  • Boat Permits allows the taking, landing and sale of fish (to a licensed dealer) and may be endorsed for shellfish. The permit covers everyone aboard the vessel. Price varies with vessel size. No lobsters may be taken.
  • Individual Permit allows the holder only to take, land and sell fish (to a licensed dealer) and may be endorsed for shellfish. No lobster may be taken.
  • Shellfish Permit allows an individual to take, land and sell (to a licensed dealer) shellfish and seaworms. A shellfish ID card, from the Division, and town permit are also required.
  • Rod & Reel Permit allows the holder only, to catch and sell finfish (to a licensed dealer) caught by Rod & Reel only. No other gear types may be used.


Certain commercial fisheries require an endorsement. Several endorsements may be attached to a single commercial fishing permit.

  • American Eel
  • Bay Scallop Shucking
  • Black Sea Bass*
  • Black Sea Bass (Fish Pot) *
  • Bluefin Tuna Seine *
  • Bluefish Gillnet *
  • Coastal Access Permit (Mobile Gear) *
  • Conch Pot *
  • Dogfish - additional control notice pdf format of dogfish_control_notice.pdf
required for new applicants
  • Fish Weir
  • Fluke *
  • Gillnet *
  • Horseshoe Crab*
  • Inshore Net*
  • Menhaden*
  • Northern Shrimp
  • Ocean Quahog *
  • Quahog Dredge *
  • Scup
  • Scup (Fish Pot) *
  • Sea Herring
  • Sea Scallop Diving
  • Sea Scallop Shucking
  • Sea Urchin Diving - additional affidavit pdf format of sea_urchin_affidavit.pdf
required for new applicants
  • Sea Urchin Dredge - additional affidavit pdf format of sea_urchin_affidavit.pdf
required for new applicants
  • Shellfish - additional affidavit pdf format of 2015 Shellfish Harvester Affidavit
required for renewals and new applicants in 2015
  • Striped Bass (Must be renewed or applied for by February 28th in the given fishing year) - additional control notice pdf format of striped_bass_affidavit.pdf
required for new applicants
  • Surf Clam *
  • Surf Clam (Contaminated)
  • Surface Gillnet
  • Statewaters Groundfish *

* Denotes limited entry fishery - endorsements may be available by transfer. Must be renewed by February 28th in the given fishing year.

Transfer of Limited Entry Permits or Endorsements

Transfers of limited entry permits or permit endorsements are conducted under regulations and policies established by the Division.  Persons seeking to transfer permits must work through DMF-Boston because state law and regulations prohibit the transfer, loan, lease, exchange, barter or sale of any permit without permission of the Director. (See Ch 130 sec 2 and 322 CMR 7.01(14)(e).

Transferring either a Coastal Lobster permit or a limited entry endorsement requires contacting DMF-Boston staff, determining its eligibility for transfer and then completing a form with notarized signatures between the holder and the intended recipient.  Criteria for transferring either a Coastal Lobster permit or other limited entry endorsement is governed by separate regulations: 322 CMR 7.03 and 322 CMF 7.06.  In addition to opportunities to transfer Coastal Lobster permits, permit holders in two discrete lobster management areas are allowed to transfer trap allocations between eligible permit holders.   

Coastal Lobster permits and limited entry endorsements may be transferred by the Director between a permit holder in good standing and an eligible recipient, subject to the DMF regulations and procedures and the approval of the Director or his designee.  When a permit holder contacts DMF staff and requests a transfer application, DMF staff always advises them whether the permit has sufficient fishing history to meet the actively fished criteria to be eligible for transfer.  If determined to be transferable,  DMF provides applicants a form that must be completed and signed by both the holder and the transferee, as well as notarized.

Special Permits

Special permits are required for scientific collection, shellfish aquaculture, shellfish propagation, contaminated shellfish harvest, and for the non-commercial harvest of lobster. Regulated fisheries are now issued as endorsements on commercial permits. See the DMF Abstracts for information on the various types of special permits required.

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