What You'll Need to Buy a Permit Online | Paper Applications | Frequently Asked Questions | Customer Service

2015 Recreational Saltwater Fishing and Lobster Permits are now available online! Click here pdf format of Message from the Director
for message on the Recreational Lobster Permit fee increase. Paper renewals for Recreational Lobster Permits will be mailed out in January, but you may renew online or in one of our offices prior to receiving your renewal. 

 

Click the fish below to purchase a permit online through the MassFishHunt website:

Click to buy permit

or
call to purchase over the phone: 1-866-703-1925.
Available Monday through Sunday, 5:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Please have credit card information ready!

or
click the picture below to find a permit vendor near you:

Click for vendor map

**Note: Massachusetts anglers only need the Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit. Anglers are no longer required to register with the National Registry.

For assistance with rules and regulations pertaining to recreational lobstering or saltwater fishing, please visit our Recreational Regulations page, email us, or call:
Boston: (617) 626-1520
Gloucester: (978) 282-0308 extension 150
New Bedford: (508) 990-2860 extension 150

 

What You'll Need to Buy a Permit Online

  1. Date of birth
  2. Phone number: can be a home or mobile number where the permit holder can be reached.
  3. Credit card: we take VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express
  4. Printer: print your permit at home
  5. Email address: your permit can be emailed to you to store a digital copy on your mobile device, stay updated on Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing happenings

 

Paper Applications

Download a paper Recreational Saltwater Fishing application by clicking here pdf format of rec_saltwater_application.pdf
Download a paper Recreational Lobster application by clicking here pdf format of Recreational Lobster Permit Application
Download a paper Recreational For-Hire Vessel application by clicking here pdf format of rec_for_hire_application.pdf

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.

 

Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs the Massachusetts Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit?
In order to fish recreationally for finfish in Massachusetts marine waters, including up to the first upstream bridge in rivers and streams that flow to the ocean (click here for exceptions to the rule pdf format of bounds_exceptions.pdf
), saltwater anglers  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:
        New Hampshire: MA to NH pdf format of reciprocity_individual_ma_nh.pdf
  NH to MA pdf format of reciprocity_individual_nh_ma.pdf
        Rhode Island: MA to RI pdf format of reciprocity_individual_ma_ri.pdf
  RI to MA pdf format of reciprocity_individual_ri_ma.pdf
        Connecticut: MA to CT pdf format of reciprocity_rec_permit_ma_to_ct.pdf
  CT to MA pdf format of reciprocity_rec_permit_ct_to_ma.pdf

What is the cost of the MA Permit?
The annual cost for both residents and non-residents is $10.00.

Who does not need a permit?
No permit is required for:

  • 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

What about people 60 and older?
Anglers 60 and older must obtain a permit, but the permit is free of charge. However, a small fee will be charged to process the permit unless it it purchased on location at one of our facilities.

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's 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.

 

Customer Service

  • For assistance using MassFishHunt or questions about payments, please call: 
    1-888-773-8450 or email here.
    Help Desk Hours:
    Monday–Friday: 8:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. (EST)
    Saturday: 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (EST)
    Sunday: Closed
  • 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.