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Trip-level reporting for commercial fishermen

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

Massachusetts requires commercial fishermen to report standard trip-level data each month. Trip-level data are the catch and effort details from each trip. These data help us manage marine resources more effectively in Massachusetts and beyond.

Why we collect trip-level information

  • Trip-level reporting means collecting catch and effort information from commercial fishermen for each trip they take. This is a common practice for both Atlantic states and the federal government as partners in the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP). 
  • Accurate catch and effort data allows for better management of marine resources. 
  • Trip-level catch and effort data:
    • Informs management strategies
    • Consolidates reporting
    • Ends duplicate reporting
  • Having a standardized format for commercial fisheries data helps manage stocks that cross jurisdictions. The ACCSP chose trip-level reporting as the standard format for commercial catch and effort data.
  • Massachusetts adopted trip-level reporting as the standard in 2010. All commercial fishermen must report monthly. Several other states either require or are phasing in trip-level reporting, too. 


  • The goal is to collect data from all commercial trips in a standardized format, without duplicate reporting.
  • If you submit trip-level data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries via Fishing Vessel Trip Reports (FVTR) or Highly Migratory Species (HMS) programs, you will not have to report those landings to Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). 
    • You can get FVTR forms by contacting the NOAA Fisheries Data Center office staff, either in person, or by telephone at (978) 281-9246. You can also contact your local NOAA Fisheries Field Office.
  • You must report any commercial trips to DMF if:
    • Your federal permit is dropped or moved to a dormant vessel
    • You fish on a vessel without a federal permit or from shore
    • You only have an HMS permit and catch something other than Bluefin tuna

Trip-level form requirements

  • You must report all gear types you use and which species you land under the selected permit.
  • Required trip information is updated for 2021. It includes:
    • Trip start date
    • Trip end date
    • Trip start time
    • Trip end time
    • Area fished
    • Species
    • Quantity
    • Unit of measure
    • Disposition
    • Gear type
    • Gear hauled
    • Soak/fishing time
    • Depth (in fathoms; 1 fathom = 6 feet)
    • Port
    • Dealer sold to
    • Tautog count (only applicable to tautog endorsement holders)

Additional information is required for fixed gear trips. Fixed gear includes all pot gear types and gillnets. It includes:

    • Strings hauled
    • Gear in area
    • Buoylines in area
    • Total gear
    • Total buoylines
    • Ten-minute square(s) fished (federal permit holders)
  • You must report your commercial activities for every month. 
  • You may enter multiple trips on one paper or spreadsheet report. Enter each electronically reported trip individually.
  • You must complete negative reports when no commercial trips occurred. You can report consecutive months of “no fishing” on one report if reporting via paper forms. If you report electronically, you can enter negative reports for consecutive months all at once and in advance.
  • You may be asked to fill out an extra form annually that asks economic questions.
  • Completed trip-level reports for one calendar month’s trips are due by the 15th of the following month. For example, all reports for January are due by February 15th. You can file negative reports in advance if you know you will not be fishing.

Additional Resources for

Commercial trip definition

  • You should only report commercial trips where fishing occurred under your commercial permit. This is true regardless of the disposition of the catch.
  • You don’t need to report recreational fishing trips. If you only fished for recreation during a month, please submit a “did not fish” report.
  • You must report all aquaculture harvest from your grant. This rule went into effect in 2011.
  • You don’t need to report a trip if you returned to port without commercially fishing. Examples include:
    • Setting gear, but not hauling gear
    • Mechanical breakdown
    • Weather events


  • You must submit a report each month. Your yearly compliance grade is based on the period from your first month’s report through December. For example, if you renewed a permit in June, your compliance grade would be based on June-December, and reports from January to May wouldn’t be accounted for in your yearly compliance grade—though you would still need to submit permits for these months.
  • Reports due dates include a 30-day grace period. For example, your August report is due by Sept. 15 but is not considered "late" until Oct. 15.
  • If 25% or more of your reports are late, you will receive a failing compliance grade, and your permit will be under probation the following year. .
    • If you fail 2 years in a row, your permit will be suspended or revoked, pending a review by the Director.
    • Your probation status is removed if you pass the following year.

Additional Resources for

Accessing your Catch Data