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Who needs a recreational lobster permit

Find out who needs a recreational lobster permit to fish in Massachusetts. Learn more about what you’ll need before hitting the water.

Who needs a permit?

Who can get a permit?

Any Massachusetts resident can get a permit. Non-residents must live in any coastal Massachusetts municipality and own more than $5,000 in real estate in the Commonwealth to get a permit. Non-US citizens must provide their alien registration card.

Who can use this permit?

This depends on whether you are fishing traps or diving. A permit with a trap endorsement allows the permit holder, as well as members of the permit holder's immediate family, to haul your traps. Immediate family includes the spouse, parents, children, grandparents, brothers, and sisters. No more than one permit endorsed for trap fishing is allowed per household. A permit with dive endorsement is for the permit holder only and does not cover other persons. You must buy additional permits endorsed for diving to cover extra divers.

Where/what can I fish with my permit?

Do I have to fish in a certain geographical area?

When you apply for your permit, we do ask that you check off a geographical area where you intend to fish. However, you are not limited by this selection and may fish throughout Massachusetts. Note that you may not set buoyed traps in the Cape Cod Canal. The taking of lobsters is prohibited in New Bedford harbor north of an imaginary line drawn from Ricketson's Point to Wilbur Point.

What does a recreational lobster and crabbing permit allow me to do?

The permit allows you to fish, keep, and land lobsters in Massachusetts. This may be done with traps or by diving. The permit also allows you to fish for, keep, and land edible crabs (e.g. blue crabs) by any six-sided trap or other contrivance that is not fished. The permit is not needed to fish for, keep, or land edible crabs by hand, handline, or dipnet, or by any star trap, open collapsible trap, or open top trap. All permit holders are responsible for staying up to date on recreational harvest information (including season, closures and other regulations).

May I sell, barter, or trade the lobsters and edible crabs that I take under my permit?

No, you may only take lobsters and edible crabs for personal use. You are not allowed to sell, barter, or trade any of your recreational lobster and edible crab catch. The law requires you to have a commercial lobster permit to engage in these activities.

Does this permit allow me to take lobsters and crabs with traps and lobsters by diving?

When applying for or renewing your permit, you must specify if you wish to fish with traps, diving, or both. There are no extra costs for each endorsement.

Do I need a permit for green crabs?

The permit is not needed to take, keep, or land green crabs as they are an inedible invasive species. However, state law requires individuals to hold an authorization from the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to harvest green crabs. To get this free authorization, please contact our Boston office for more information.

Other permit related information

What does a permit cost and where can I get one?

The permit fees are $55 for residents and $75 for non-residents. Permits are available at all DMF offices or online through MassFishHunt. Additionally, residents can buy or renew their permit online.

What is my permit number?

Each permit has a identification number located on the upper right hand corner of the permit. You must mark your traps and dive gear with this permit number.

Is reporting required?

Yes, all permit holders must provide an annual catch report. The DMF provides these forms at the time of renewal. License renewals will not be issued until a permit holder files the catch report.

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