Log in links for this page

Commercial fishing permits

You need a commercial fishing permit if you land and sell finfish, shellfish, lobsters, edible crabs, or other living marine resources in Massachusetts. Read on to learn about the permit types and the endorsements available.

Commercial permit types

  • Coastal Lobster Permit allows you to take, land, and sell lobsters (to a licensed dealer) that you harvested from Massachusetts' coastal waters. You may set at most  800 lobster pots per vessel in state waters. The permit may be endorsed to take and sell shellfish and finfish at no extra cost. For skin or scuba divers, only the licensee is covered.
  • Offshore Lobster Permit allows you to land and sell lobsters to a licensed dealer that you harvested outside Massachusetts' coastal waters in accordance with a federal lobster permit. The permit may be endorsed to take and sell shellfish and finfish at no extra cost.
  • Seasonal Lobster Permit allows full-time students-only (verification required), ages 12 and older, to take and sell lobsters to a permitted dealer from June 15 - Sept. 15. You may use at most 25 pots. This permit does not allow you to dive or sell fish and/or shellfish.
    •  Applicants must prove that they are full-time students (provide a letter attesting to full-time status on school letterhead), and those under 17 must provide proof of parental consent.
    • Applicants must be Massachusetts residents.
  • Boat Permit allows you to to take, land, and sell fish to a licensed dealer. The permit may be endorsed for shellfish and covers everyone aboard the vessel. Prices varies with vessel size. You may not take lobster.
  • Individual Permit allows you (and only you) to take, land, and sell fish to a licensed dealer. The permit may be endorsed for shellfish. You may not take lobster. 
  • Shellfish Permit allows you to take, land, and sell shellfish and seaworms to a licensed dealer. You must also have a town permit and a shellfish ID card issued by the Division of Marine Fisheries.
  • Rod & Reel Permit allows you (and only you) to use a rod & reel to catch and sell finfish to a licensed dealer. This permit does not cover the use of other types of gear. 

Additional Resources

Commercial permit endorsements

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 required for new applicants
  • Fish Weir
  • Fluke*
  • Gillnet*
  • Groundfish*
  • Horseshoe Crab*
  • Inshore Net*
  • Menhaden*
  • Northern Shrimp
  • Purse Seine (CAP)
  • Quahog Dredge*
  • Scup
  • Scup (Fish Pot)*
  • Sea Herring
  • Sea Scallop Diving
  • Sea Scallop Shucking
  • Sea Urchin Diving--additional affidavit required for new applicants
  • Sea Urchin Dredge--additional affidavit required for new applicants
  • Shellfish--additional affidavit required for renewals and new applicants in 2015
  • Striped Bass (Must be renewed or applied for by Feb. 28 in the given fishing year)--additional control notice required for new applicants
  • Surf Clam/Ocean Quahog*
  • Surf Clam (Contaminated)
  • Surface Gillnet
  • Tautog*

* Limited entry fishery. Endorsements may be available by transfer. Must be renewed by Feb. 28 in the given fishing year.

Additional Resources

Contact   for Commercial fishing permits

Help Us Improve Mass.gov  with your feedback

Please do not include personal or contact information.