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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Commercial FAQs

Marine Fisheries

Commercial Fishing License Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs)

This FAQ list is intended to summarize applicable rules and to assist fishermen.
It is not a substitute for the rules.

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General License Questions


Q. - Will all Division of Marine Fisheries' license offices process license transfers?
A. -  Any Division of Marine Fisheries' license office can process license transfers except for the License to Land Flounder from the Atlantic Ocean License. This license can only be transferred in the Morehead City office.

Q. - Where can Division of Marine Fisheries licenses be purchased?
A. - All Division of Marine Fisheries' license offices will sell all licenses except for the License to Land Flounder from the Atlantic Ocean. This license can only be processed/purchased in the Morehead City office. In addition to Division of Marine Fisheries' license offices, some Wildlife Resources Commission agents will sell the Recreational Commercial Gear License.

Q. – To be eligible for licenses within a certain deadline, do the licenses need to be received by the Division of Marine Fisheries or is the postmark date adequate?
A. – The postmark date will serve as the date for applying for licenses by a specified timeframe.

Q. – Who is considered the responsible party of a license?
A. – A person who coordinates, supervises or otherwise directs operations of a business, such as a corporate officer or executive level supervisor of business operations and the person responsible for use of the issued license in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The responsible party of a business is referred to as the Business Agent.

Q. – How do I replace a lost fishing license?
A. – You can apply for a replacement at any Division of Marine Fisheries' license office and you will be charged a replacement fee.

Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License
(Including Endorsements and Assignments)


Q - Who is eligible to purchase a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License?
A.–
Anyone who held a valid Endorsement To Sell License on June 30, 1999 is eligible to purchase the Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License. You can purchase one Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License for every valid Endorsement To Sell License held on June 30, 1999.

Q. – I have multiple valid Endorsement to Sell Licenses on June 30, 1999. Is there a timeframe when I have to purchase the Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License?
A. –
Yes, you have one year, from July 1, 1999 until June 30, 2000, to purchase all the licenses for which you are eligible. If you do not purchase all eligible Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing Licenses by June 30, 2000, any unused eligible license will be placed in the eligibility pool.

License FAQ:
Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License FAQ (Cont.)


Q. – Do I have to notify the Division of Marine Fisheries when the master of the vessel listed on the Menhaden Endorsement on the Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License changes?
A. –
Yes, you must notify by filing an application with the Division of Marine Fisheries within 30 days and you will receive a replacement license at the cost of $10.00.

Q. – Do I need a Menhaden Endorsement to the Standard Commercial Fishing License to catch menhaden with a cast net to be used as bait?
A. –
No, you only need the menhaden endorsement to harvest menhaden with a purse seine.

Q. – Who can be assigned the Standard Commercial Fishing License?
A. –
The Standard Commercial Fishing License can be assigned to anyone who does not have any license suspensions or revocations. Resident Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses can only be assigned to North Carolina residents. Non resident Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses can be assigned to either a North Carolina resident or nonresidents.

Q. – Can a Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License be assigned?
A. –
No.

Q. – Can the Shellfish or Menhaden Endorsements of the Standard Commercial Fishing License be assigned?
A. –
Yes. One or both endorsements can be assigned along with the Standard Commercial Fishing License. A Standard Commercial Fishing License with the Shellfish Endorsement can only be assigned to a North Carolina resident.

Q. – Can I assign my Standard Commercial Fishing License without assigning my endorsements?
A. –
Yes, you can assign the Standard Commercial Fishing License but do not have to assign one or both of the endorsements. You cannot harvest shellfish or menhaden with only the endorsement if you assigned the Standard Commercial Fishing License and retained the endorsements.

Q. – Will all Division of Marine Fisheries' license offices process Standard Commercial Fishing License assignments?
A. –
No, only the Morehead City office will process assignments.

Q. – How does an assignment terminate?
A. –
The assignment terminates:

  1. When the date specified on the assignment form is reached; or
  2. A licensee or assignee are determined ineligible for a license or assignment; or
  3. The Division of Marine Fisheries receives a notarized statement from the current license holder stating a revised date for an earlier assignment termination; or
  4. Upon the licensee or assignee's death; or
  5. The Standard Commercial Fishing License expires.

Q. – When do assignments of the Standard Commercial Fishing License have to be reported to the Division of Marine Fisheries?
A. –
All assignments have to be reported through the required procedures to the Division of Marine Fisheries' Morehead City office. If the Division of Marine Fisheries has not received the assignment within 5 days (postmarked) from the first day of the assignment, it is not a valid assignment and is null and void. It must be returned to the Standard Commercial Fishing License holder.

Q. – What documents do I need to take with me when assigned a Standard Commercial Fishing License?
A. –
When you are fishing with an assigned Standard Commercial Fishing License, you must have ready at hand for inspection the assigned Standard Commercial Fishing License with any assigned endorsements and a copy of the assignment form.

Q. – Can an individual be assigned more than one Standard Commercial Fishing License at one time?
A. –
No.

Q. – Can a nonresident be assigned a resident Standard Commercial Fishing License?
A. –
No.

Q. – Can an assignment be extended beyond the original assigned date?
A. –
Yes, for an extension of time, a new assignment form must be completed and submitted to the Division of Marine Fisheries' Morehead City license office.

License FAQ:
Shellfish License Questions


Q. – Can anyone purchase the Shellfish License?
A. –
No, only North Carolina residents can purchase a Shellfish License.

Q. – I am a commercial hand clammer. What license do I need?
A. –
You have two options. If you had a valid Endorsement to Sell License on June 30, 1999, you can purchase a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License and elect the Shellfish Endorsement, or you can purchase the Shellfish License. Only North Carolina residents can purchase the Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License with the Shellfish Endorsement and/or the Shellfish License. If you use a vessel, the vessel must have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration

Q. – Do I need a valid 1999 Endorsement to Sell License to purchase the Shellfish License?
A. –
No, there are no past license requirements to be eligible.

License FAQ:
Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration Questions


Q. – Who can purchase the Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
Anyone can purchase the Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration for a vessel. There are no previous license requirements for someone to purchase this registration.

Q. – Is the Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration different from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's boat registration?
A. –
Yes, you must have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration, in addition to the Wildlife Resources Commission's boat registration or U.S. Coast Guard documentation for the vessel to participate in commercial fishing operations in North Carolina.

Q. – Can anyone fish commercially on a vessel that has a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
Yes, anyone can fish if at least one individual on board has a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License, or Menhaden License for Non-Residents Not Eligible for a Standard Commercial Fishing License on a vessel with a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration. Only the individual with the license can sell the catch.

Q. – Do I have to remove my previous commercial vessel fishing license decal from my vessel?
A. –
Yes, only a valid vessel decal can be displayed.

Q. – When does the Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration need to be purchased?
A. –
It has to be purchased before the vessel is used in commercial fishing operations beginning July 1, 1999.

Q. – What type of vessels need to have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
Motorized vessels participating in commercial fishing activities need to have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration. Unmotorized vessels not used in conjunction with a vessel in commercial fishing operations with a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration must have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration.

Q. – Do run, buy, or purse boats working in conjunction with commercial fishing operations need to have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
Yes, if the vessel is motorized and operating in a commercial fishing operation, it needs to have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration.

Q. – Does a menhaden vessel with a Menhaden License for Nonresidents Not Eligible for a Standard Commercial Fishing License fishing within 3 miles of shore need a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
Yes.

Q. – How is the primary location status of a vessel determined for the Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
The primary location status is determined in one of three ways. 1) From the state boat registration; 2) Certified state vessel title; or 3) U.S. Coast Guard documentation papers.

Q. – How is the homeport determined from the U.S. Coast Guard documentation?
A. -
It is determined from the listed hailing port.

Q. – What documents do I need to present for the Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration if a transfer of the U.S. Coast Guard documentation has been requested?
A. –
If an application for transfer of documentation is pending, a copy of the pending application and a notarized bill of sale may be submitted.

License FAQ:
Menhaden License for Non-Residents Not Eligible For A Standard Commercial Fishing License Questions


Q. – Does a menhaden vessel with a Menhaden License for Non-Residents Not Eligible for a Standard Commercial Fishing License fishing within 3 miles of shore need a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration?
A. –
Yes.

License FAQ:
Fish Dealer License Questions


Q. – Who has to pay the $50 new dealer fee?
A. –
Anyone who was not a dealer during the July 1, 1998 – June 30, 1999 license year.

Q. – Does an operating menhaden or other fish dehydrating or oil-extracting processing plant also need to have another category of dealer license for which the plant is operating?
A. –
No. A separate category license is needed only if the plant is buying directly from a fisherman - then they must also complete and submit trip tickets.

Q. – What Fish Dealer License categories do I need to deal in bait?
A. –
To deal in bait, you can get either the Shrimp or Finfish Fish Dealer License Category. The Shrimp Category is needed to deal in minnows and shrimp. The Finfish Category is needed to deal in minnows and live shrimp.

Q. – If I change the name of the business with the same responsible person on a Fish Dealer License, will I be charged a fee?
A. –
Yes, you will be charged a replacement flat fee of $10.00 to change the name of each Fish Dealer License.

License FAQ:
Recreational Fishing Tournament License to Sell Fish Questions


Q. – Do all fishing tournaments need the Recreational Fishing Tournament License to Sell Fish License?
A. –
No, only tournaments that plan to sell fish must have this license. Organizers of tournaments must apply 30 days before the tournament to get this license.

Q. – Do tournaments need to report the proceeds from the sale of fish?
A. –
Yes, tournaments must report the proceeds from the sale of fish. The sale of fish must go through a licensed Fish Dealer. The proceeds from the sale of fish may be used only for charitable, religious, educational, civic, or conservation purposes and is not to be used to pay tournament expenses.

Q. – Can vessels fishing in tournaments with a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration and an individual with a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License sell their catch instead of giving it to the tournament?
A. –
No, vessels and fishermen participating in tournaments with a Recreational Fishing Tournament to Sell Fish License are not to engage in commercial fishing activities.

Q. – Does a tournament need a Recreational Fishing Tournament License to Sell Fish if the tournament is selling fish plates from fish caught in the tournament?
A. –
Yes, the sale of fish plates, including free fish plates to participants, from fish caught during the tournament requires the tournament organizer to purchase a license. Additionally, the tournament must sell the fish through a Fish Dealer (the tournament organizer may wish to purchase a Fish Dealer License to meet this requirement).

License FAQ:
License to Land Flounder from the Atlantic Ocean Questions


Q. – Do I have to notify the Division of Marine Fisheries when the master of the vessel on the License to Land Flounder from the Atlantic Ocean changes?
A. –
Yes, you must notify by filing an application with the Division of Marine Fisheries within 5 days and you will receive a replacement license.

Q. – Can a License to Land Flounder from the Atlantic Ocean be transferred to another vessel?
A. –
The license can be transferred. In doing this, the landings that qualified for the license are also transferred.

Q. - Do you have to renew the Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License, annually?
A. –
Yes, you have one full license year (July – June) after your license expires to renew your license. If you do not renew in that year, your license will go into the eligibility pool. To receive a license after that year, you must apply to the eligibility pool.

Q. – Am I eligible for a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License if I have a 1999 Tournament Endorsement to Sell License or Aquaculture Endorsement to Sell License?
A.
– No, only Vessel Endorsement to Sell or Non-vessel Endorsement to Sell Licenses qualify you for a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License.

Q. – Are spears considered commercial gear and do I need a license to fish with them?
A. –
To commercially fish with a spear you must have a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License. To recreationally fish with a spear in North Carolina coastal waters (0 – 3 miles in the ocean), you must have a Recreational Commercial Gear License.

Q. – Do I have to be retired to purchase the Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License?
A. –
No, retirement is not a qualification for the license. You have to be 65 years old or older to purchase this license.

Q. – If I am 65 years old or older, do I have to purchase the Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License?
A. –
No, you have the option. If you want the flexibility to assign your license, you can purchase the Standard Commercial Fishing License. The Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License does not allow assignments, but it is sold at a lower price for North Carolina residents.

Q. – If I am operating a buy, run, or purse boat that has a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration, do I need a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License with a menhaden endorsement?
A. –
No, a person in command of a vessel that is auxiliary to a vessel with a commercial fishing vessel registration, with a person aboard who holds a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License, is exempt.

Q. – I am a commercial hand clammer. What license do I need?
A. –
You have two options. If you had a valid Endorsement to Sell License on June 30, 1999, you can purchase a Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License and elect the Shellfish endorsement, or you can purchase the Shellfish License. Only North Carolina residents can purchase the Standard or Retired Commercial Fishing License with the Shellfish Endorsement and the Shellfish License. If you use a vessel, the vessel must have a Commercial Fishing Vessel Registration. 

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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