In 2011, the Commonwealth established a recreational saltwater fishing permit to comply with the Saltwater Act, a state law prompted by a federal mandate enacted to improve estimates of saltwater fishing effort and catch data. The fee for the permit was set at $10 for both residents and non-residents alike, and is free for recreational anglers who are 60 years and older. In conjunction to the permit, the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund was established as a dedicated fund, to ensure a ‘user-pay/user-benefits’ program. This means that all fees collected from the sale of recreational saltwater fishing permits can only be used on approved marine recreational fishing programs. In addition to license fee revenue, the Act includes a provision for other gifts, grants, or fees that may be received by the Commonwealth and deposited into the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund, and each year many anglers contribute to the fund through direct donations.
As required by the Act, the Marine Recreational Development Panel was created to assist MarineFisheries in crafting annual spending plans. The Panel consults in the allocation of funds 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 – develop an Information and Education Program, and enhance recreational fishing access opportunities in the state. The Act further expands on the use of funds, requiring that 1/3 of all annual license fee appropriations are dedicated to recreational saltwater fishing infrastructure projects in Massachusetts, ensuring better access to coastal fishing.
All permit fee revenues and donations are deposited in our Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund and are used solely for research, conservation, and public access efforts of Massachusetts recreational fisheries. Some of the projects your license fee and donations help fund include…
Public Access: MarineFisheries, in partnership with the Office of Fishing and Boating Access , has worked to identify and collaborate on public access opportunities along the entire Massachusetts coastline, and offers a tool to find boat ramps local to the area you’d like to fish most. The challenges of this project include identifying locations where access is in jeopardy, where new access facilities could offer the most utility in areas where fishing access is not present, and making user groups aware of our mission to preserve, enhance, and develop fishing access along the coastline.
Funding for the Public Access Project helps MarineFisheries protect, maintain, construct, and expand public access to quality recreational fishing up and down the Massachusetts shore.
Visit the Public Access page for more information on these projects.
Marine Resource Fisheries Conservation: Massachusetts is home to many species that migrate between marine and fresh water (known as diadromous). Many of these species, such as alewife and blueback herring - collectively known as river herring, are low in numbers and require strong research and conservation efforts in both fresh and saltwater areas to bring their populations back to sustainable levels.
Funding for the Diadromous Species project helps MarineFisheries construct fish ladders at dam sites and install automated fish counters to assist in monitoring these fishes. You can see underwater video footage of river herring and other species traveling upstream during their migration on our YouTube page.
Visit the Diadromous Fisheries page for more information on this project.
Information and Education: Information gathered through MarineFisheries research are available to you in a variety of ways. We publish materials for every age group, ranging from our Technical Reports to our coloring books. We have a presence at fishing, boating, and outdoor events annually throughout the state. To further our interaction with you, we are now on social media. Follow us, subscribe to our channels, and join the conversation on twitter, YouTube, and flickr.
Funding for Information and Education helps MarineFisheries share our knowledge of the Commonwealth's coastline and the waters beyond with our local anglers and with ocean lovers throughout Massachusetts and beyond.
Visit the Education page for more information
Marine Recreational Information Program: Catch information is a critical ingredient in fish stock assessment and management. NOAA Fisheries has run MRIP since 1983. However, MarineFisheries has conducted the Massachusetts portion of these post-fishing interviews since 2013. Massachusetts has the highest number of interviews after only Florida and North Carolina, ensuring that stock assessments and management are based on the best data possible.
Funding for MRIP helps MarineFisheries to hire the staff necessary to conduct these interviews throughout the fishing season.
Visit the Marine Recreational Information Program page for more information on this project.
If you would like to purchase a Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit or make a donation to the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund, please visit our permits page