Seafood dealer reporting

Learn how these reports work and why they're important.

Massachusetts requires all primary buyers to report all purchases from fishermen. Modern fisheries management depends on accurate reports of these landings, and most coastal agencies collect similar data sets. These data help us manage marine resources more effectively in Massachusetts and beyond.

General reporting information

  • A primary buyer of product landed in Massachusetts must have a place of business in Massachusetts. Massachusetts law enforcement officials have no authority outside of Massachusetts. Thus to inspect any records, the place of business must be in state.
  • Dealers may not buy from fishermen who do not have a commercial permit. If a federal vessel is landing in Massachusetts, the owner or captain must have a Massachusetts commercial permit. The permit holder must also have all applicable endorsements depending on the species landed.
  • Dealers must report all marine species purchased directly from commercial fishermen. This includes those used for bait purposes.
  • Dealers must report for each week of the year including those with no transactions.
  • The port of landing is the town where the fisherman offloads the catch.
  • Dealers must report all product purchased in the appropriate unit of measure.
  • When reporting shellfish harvested from Massachusetts inshore waters, dealers must enter the designated shellfish growing area (DSGA). For shellfish harvested outside of Massachusetts inshore waters, the harvest area is “Offshore.”
  • Price information is an important component of the transaction. These data highlight the economic side of each fishery. Collection of this type of data is part of the coast wide standard.
  • If a price is unknown at the time of submission, submit an update of the transaction within 30 days. Please state that it is a correction.
  • Please use the “Catch Source” field to identify farmed, carred, or research products.
    • Enter "Standard" if the catch does not fall under the other three categories.
    • "Aquaculture" is for all cultured products.
    • The "Carred" option is for lobsters sold from a “car.” If dealers are not sure if the lobsters were “carred,” use the "Standard" option.
    • The "Research" option is for purchases from vessels participating in a research program.
  • All transactions are strictly confidential. Access is only granted to individuals who have signed a memorandum of understanding about the confidentiality of the data.

Additional Resources

Understanding fisherman permits and vessels

  • The Permit ID number uniquely identifies each MA commercial fishing permit. If a permit is renewed each year, the Permit ID number stays with that permit. If a fisherman needs to change permit types or fails to renew for a year, then a new ID number is assigned to a new permit.
    • It is imperative that the dealer identify the correct and current ID number for the permit holder selling catch. This is also a good way to check that a fisherman has a valid commercial permit. It is also a check for the proper species endorsements on the permit (e.g., fluke, striped bass etc.).
    • Properly associating fishermen with their transactions is critical to documenting their fishing history. This helps both DMF and NOAA Fisheries verify this information.
    • Determining who is harvesting a resource is important when it comes to managing a fishery. This information can be critical during quota management, stock assessments, or other issues.
  • If a fisherman has more than one vessel, he will need a separate permit for each vessel. The Permit ID will be different for each.  The dealer report must identify the correct permit under which the fisherman was fishing.
  •  If the dealer doesn’t have access to the fisherman’s commercial permit, there is a fishermen lookup on our website. This list includes vessel name, Permit ID number, permit type, and permit endorsements.
  • Federal fishing permits are issued to vessels. DMF issues fishing permits to the individuals or corporations that operate or handle the vessel. Thus, a federal vessel landing in Massachusetts will have two permits.
    •  If a dealer buys federally managed species from a federal vessel, they must also have a federal dealer’s permit.
  •  The dealer must also enter vessel registrations on dealer reports. If a fisherman does not fish from a vessel, then list “from shore” as the vessel.

Additional Resources

Reporting for a retail boat permit

  • Under the authority of this permit, you may only retail your own catch, and are the primary buyer of your own catch. You are responsible for reporting these “sales.”
    • Do you only retail lobster? If yes, and you do not have federal vessel permits, then please report via harvester trip report forms.
    • If you retail anything except lobster or have federal vessel permits, you must report as a primary buyer.
  • If you sell some of your catch to another dealer, that dealer must have a dealer’s permit and is the primary buyer. That dealer would report those transactions.  
  • You may only retail your own catch. If you would like to buy from other fishermen, you need a wholesale permit. As a wholesale buyer, you would need to report these transactions as the primary buyer.

Additional Resources

Trucking information

  • To make off-loading product more efficient dockside, the rule to cull and weigh product at the dock was removed. The product must be properly labeled in totes for law enforcement to inspect.
  • Any truck operator transporting marine species from the point of sale to a processing location must have a MA dealer’s permit.
    • Trucks belonging to the wholesale processor are permitted under that location. These trucks must be directly employed by that dealer, and that dealer must be a primary buyer.
    • “Transport-only” operations can't transport product from the dock to a dealer without their own dealer’s permit. These are sometimes referred to as “common carriers.” The transport operation must have a location in Massachusetts.
    • Any other truck must have a dealer’s permit. It must be a primary buyer and must have a place of business in MA.

Federal dealers

  • Federal dealers must report all transactions of any species from all fishermen. This is regardless of the fisherman’s permitting agency or where he caught the species.
  • Federal dealers must report all transactions using the SAFIS electronic reporting system.  DO NOT separate your transactions by agency.
  • Given that federal dealers are also MA dealers, they must adhere to all state requirements. This is regardless of whether NOAA Fisheries requires these elements. For example, all shellfish transactions must have a DSGA included.
  • Since NOAA Fisheries permits corporations, a federal dealer may have many active locations. Each of those locations has their own separate MA dealer's permit. Please enter all transactions for that corporation under the federal permit. “Federal-reporting” dealers do not need to separate transactions from more than one location.

State dealers

  • State dealers are prohibited from buying product landed from a federally permitted vessel. This excludes non-federally managed species (e.g., inshore shellfish, whelk, etc.).  
  •  State dealers can submit by paper or online. DMF encourages electronic submission through SAFIS. If interested, contact Kim Lundy at 978-282-0308 x117 for an account and further instruction.
    • In SAFIS, a specific account essentially verifies a dealer’s submission. This suffices instead of a signed paper report.  
    • Paper forms are available for submission by mail, email, or fax.
  • Dealers can make corrections to old data.
    • On paper, please re-submit the transaction and state it is a correction. To add a new transaction to an old week, please submit the record and state it is a new transaction for a prior reporting period.
    • Online, dealers can edit reports for up to 90 days. After that, please contact DMF for help.
  • DMF is aware of the duplicative reporting requirements with the Department of Public Health (DPH). We are working to reduce and end the duplicative nature of these reporting requirements where possible.

Additional Resources

Reporting compliance

  • A reporting period is from 00:01 Sunday to 24:00 of the following Saturday.
  • Dealers will have until 3 days after the end of a reporting period to submit a week’s worth of information. This is no later than 24:00 of the following Tuesday. Reports must either be:
    • Postmarked if sent by mail,
    • Received if sent by fax or email, or
    • Entered into SAFIS (if setup for electronic reporting).
  •  Dealers must report for each reporting period even if no purchases were made during that period.
  • If less than 80% of the weeks are accounted for, then a dealer’s MA permit renewal will be held until all reports are entered.
  • Dealers can submit negative reports in advance. This is useful for a seasonal business.

Additional Resources

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