2017 Recreational Saltwater Fishing and Lobster Permits are now available! If you're 16 years or older, you need a recreational saltwater fishing permit to fish in Massachusetts. This permit may be issued from Massachusetts or from a nearby state that has a reciprocity agreement with Massachusetts (see FAQs Tab below). For ages 16-59, the cost of the permit is $10. Ages 60+ must still have a permit to fish in Massachusetts but the permit is free.
Anglers are no longer required to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry.
The cost of a Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit is $10.00. For purchase online, there is an additional $1.68 fee ($1.34 is for administrative handling and $0.34 is a convenience fee). This will be charged in addition to the $10.00 permit fee.
What You'll Need to Buy a Permit Online:
- Date of birth
- Phone number - a home or mobile number where the permit holder can be reached.
- Credit/Debit card - we accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.
- Printer - print your permit at home.
- Email address - your permit can be emailed to you to store a digital copy on your mobile device. You can also stay updated on Massachusetts recreational saltwater happenings.
Whether you print your permit or have it stored on your mobile device, you must always have a version of your current recreational saltwater permit with you, available for display whenever you recreationally saltwater fish in Massachusetts.
Paper applications can be mailed in with a check (if applicable) or brought to one of our permitting facilities.
Please note that our Gloucester and New Bedford offices only accept checks or money orders and are open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Our Boston office accepts checks, money orders, or cash (exact change only) and is open from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Download a paper Recreational Saltwater Fishing application by clicking here .
Download a paper Recreational Lobster application by clicking here .
Download a paper Recreational For-Hire Vessel application by clicking here .
What do I need to recreationally saltwater fish in Massachusetts?
In order to fish recreationally for finfish in Massachusetts marine waters, saltwater anglers ages 16+ must have:
- A Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit, or
- A recreational saltwater fishing permit from a state that has a reciprocity agreement with Massachusetts. As of February 17, 2011, Massachusetts has reciprocity agreements with:
The above reciprocity agreements allow MA recreational saltwater fishing permit holders to recreationally saltwater fish in NH, RI, and CT. If you hold a MA recreational saltwater fishing permit, you are also allowed to fish in ME waters, however, a ME saltwater permit does not allow you to saltwater fish in MA. Be aware that recreational fishing regulations vary from state to state.
Where can I fish with a recreational saltwater permit?
In Massachusetts, this permit covers marine waters, including up to the first upstream bridge in rivers and streams that flow to the ocean, out to three nautical miles (nm) from the Massachusetts coastline. Click here for exceptions to this rule . Your recreational saltwater permit also allows you to legally fish in Federal waters from 3nm out to 200nm. When traveling to a different state that does not have a reciprocity agreement with Massachusetts, you will have to consult their state agency about what is required to fish in their state waters. Be aware there may be different species-specific regulations in Federal versus state waters.
What is the cost of the Massachusetts saltwater fishing permit?
The annual cost for both residents and non-residents is $10.00. If you are 60+ years old, the permit is free of charge; however, a processing fee will be charged unless the permit is obtained on location at one of our facilities.
Who does not need a permit?
Anglers under 16 years of age
Anglers fishing on permitted for-hire vessels (for example, head boats and/or chartered boats)
Anglers, who regardless of their age, otherwise meet the definition of a disabled person in M.G.L. c. 19C
Do all recreational anglers on a private vessel need to purchase a recreational fishing permit or is there a boat permit available?
All recreational anglers, ages 16 to 59, must purchase an individual permit and those age 60 or over must obtain a free permit if fishing from a private vessel or from shore. Massachusetts does not have a boat permit available for a private fishing vessel, nor any type of family permit that covers multiple family members.
Does my for-hire permit allow me to fish recreationally in saltwater when not involved in for-hire activity?
Yes, it does cover you as an individual angler, provided that the for-hire permit is issued in your name. You must have the for-hire permit in your possession.
Does my commercial permit allow me to fish recreationally in saltwater?
No. Your commercial permit does not cover you when you are fishing as a recreational angler. You must obtain a recreational saltwater fishing permit.
If I have a Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit, am I exempt from the Massachusetts permit?
If you are finfishing exclusively in Federal waters and possess an HMS permit, you do not need a Massachusetts permit, as long as you do not land any fish in Massachusetts. If you retain fish and bring them back into Massachusetts state waters, or you fish in Massachusetts state waters, then you will need the Massachusetts permit.
Do I need to sign up for the National Saltwater Angler Registry (NSAR) as I did in 2010 (and pay additional fees)?
No, NSAR no longer covers you to fish in Massachusetts waters. Your Massachusetts recreational saltwater permit allows you to fish in Massachusetts and Federal waters, as well as land your fish in Massachusetts. However, if you fish for tuna, billfish, swordfish, and/or sharks, you will need a Highly Migratory Species permit from NOAA Fisheries.
When does the permit expire?
Massachusetts recreational saltwater permits expire each year on December 31. All permits must be renewed annually.
How can I obtain a duplicate of my permit if mine is lost or damaged?
You may reprint your permit by going to MassFishHunt, or you may call or visit one of our offices and ask for a replacement permit. You may also carry a digital copy of your permit on your mobile device when fishing in Massachusetts state waters.
Is a saltwater/freshwater fishing combination permit available?
No, not at this time. However, all permits and licenses can be purchased on MassFishHunt.
How are the permit fee revenues being used?
All permit fees are deposited in a dedicated account, managed by MarineFisheries. An advisory panel assists MarineFisheries in developing programs for the expenditure of all collected funds. In accordance with the state law governing the permit program, the permit fee revenues can only be used to administer the permit program, improve the management of Massachusetts' marine recreational fisheries, particularly with regard to developing more accurate assessments of recreational catch and effort, and enhance recreational fishing access opportunities in the state. The permit fee revenues cannot be used for any purpose that is unrelated to marine recreational fishing in Massachusetts. Please visit the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund page for more information.
Do I still need to follow all applicable rules and regulations governing marine recreational fishing?
Yes, the permit simply enables you to fish legally, in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations. Recreational regulations can be found here.
Where can I get a copy of the Massachusetts Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide?
The guide is available on our website by clicking here. If you would like a hard copy of the guide, please contact or stop by one of our offices, or contact your local tackle shop.
Do I need the Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit to go recreational shellfishing or recreational lobstering?
No. Recreational shellfishing is allowed in designated clean areas and regulated by the individual cities and towns. Contact your town Department of Natural Resources for local regulations and permit acquisition. Recreational lobstering requires a separate permit that can be obtained through MassFishHunt.
Where can I find the recreational lobster and crabbing rules?
The Massachusetts Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide contains the recreational lobster and crabbing rules as well as other useful information.
Can I harvest green crabs recreationally?
Yes, but you must get a letter of authorization (LOA) from MarineFisheries to do so. Please contact Kerry Allard for an LOA, or for more information.
Help Desk Hours:
Monday–Friday: 8:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. (EST)
Saturday: 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (EST)
For assistance with rules and regulations pertaining to recreational lobstering or saltwater fishing, please visit our Recreational Regulations page, email us, or call one of our offices:
Boston: (617) 626-1520
Gloucester: (978) 282-0308 extension 150
New Bedford: (508) 990-2860 extension 150
Please note that your MassFishHunt transactions will be indicated on your credit card statement as follows: ACT*MADFG MassFishHunt 615-263-4257.