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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Rec Fishing FAQs

Marine Fisheries

Recreational Fishing License FAQs

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Sales Agents
The new license is available from WRC license agents throughout the state and at any DMF office. The number of license agents will be increased in coastal areas.

If I purchase the new CRFL does it allow me to fish in inland waters?
The CRFL allows you to fish in coastal and joint fishing waters, but not in inland or fresh waters. If you want a license to fish in all state waters, you may purchase a Unified Fishing License.

What constitutes a disabled veteran under this licensing structure?
To qualify for a Resident Disabled Veteran CRFL, you have to be a veteran that is 50 percent or more disabled as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The license remains valid for the lifetime of the liensee so long as the icensee remains 50 percent or more disabled.

What is the definition of totally disabled being used to qualify for the Resident Totally Disabled CRFL?
An individual has to be a resident of the state and totally and permanently disabled as determined by the Social Security Administration.

How do I qualify for a fishing license subsistence waiver?
A county Department of Social Services will issue a waiver to any individual who receives benefits from Medicaid, Food Stamps, or Work First Family Assistance through that county’s Department of Social Services upon request.

If I am an ocean pier owner or a for-hire boat operator, do I have to purchase the CRFL blanket license?
The blanket license is optional for piers and for-hire boat operators. It is entirely up to these operators if they want to purchase a blanket license, otherwise their fishing patronsmust hold their own individual licenses.

Are fishermen who use gigs to recreationally harvest fish required to have this license?
Yes.

I harvest oysters and clams recreationally, do I have to have this license?
No. The CRFL is only required for the recreational taking of finfish.

If I take my wife and a 13-year-old son out fishing with me, do we all have to have the CRFL, or will my license cover everyone?
Anyone under the age of 16 is not required to have a license to recreationally take finfish in coastal waters. If you and your wife are both fishing, you will both need a license.

If I am out fishing in the Pamilco Sound with my family, which consists of an 11-year old and a 17-year old, and I am the only one that has a CRFL, how many possession limits of fish can we keep?
Two, your possession limit and your 11-year-old’s possession limit. Your 17-year-old is required to have a CRFL to take finfish recreationally.

When did the Coastal Recreational Fishing License come into effect?
The license has been required since Jan.1, 2007.

Where can I purchase a license?
The license may be purchased or renewed at WRC license agents, which includes all DMF offices. Most Wal-Marts, along with most sports and bait and tackle shops, sell WRC licenses. The WRC also sells licenses through a toll-free number and on-line.

I have a lifetime hunting and fishing license issued by the WRC; will this license cover me in coastal waters?
Yes. All license holders who purchase a WRC Lifetime Sportsman or Lifetime Comprehensive fishing license prior to Jan.1, 2006, will be exempted from purchasing the CRFL.

Will I need a license to fish on a private or public pier?
Yes, unless the public pier has purchased a blanket license.

Will I need a license to fish from the shore?
Yes, if you are fishing recreationally for finfish in coastal waters, you will need a CRFL.

I live in a coastal county, but I have a private, freshwater pond on my property, that I have stocked, do I need a CRFL to fish from my pond?
No. Private, freshwater ponds are exempt from the licensing requirement.

If I have a CRFL, can people fish on my private boat without purchasing a license?
No, they must all have a license if you are fishing in coastal waters, unless they are under 16 years of age. After Jan. 1, 2009, owners of vessels greater than 23' in length may purchase blocks of ten 10-day CRFLs for $150.00 that they can issue to anglers aboard their vessel. Call a DMF license office for more information.

Must all 10 licenses purchased in a block of Ten-Day CRFLS be used together or at the same time?
No. Each Ten-Day License may be used individually for any 10 consecutive days.

Could a person fish for five days and another person fish the remaining 5 days using one Ten-Day CRFL?
No, a license may only be issued to one person.

Fishing License FAQs
 

Could a person fishing under a Ten-Day License purchased as part of a block use the license for surf fishing?
No. The license may only used aboard vessel for which the license is purchased.

I have a vessel registered in Virginia. Can I purchase a block of 10-day licenses?
No. Blocks of 10 Ten-Day CRFLS are available only to owners of vessels registered in North Carolina or documented with the U.S. Coast Guard.

What if I lose my license, are replacement licenses available?
Anglers who have lost their license may apply for a another license to be reissued for a $5 fee.

Can I sell my catch if I have a CRFL?
No, seafood harvested under this license is for personal consumption and cannot be sold.

I have a Standard Commercial Fishing License; do I still need a CRFL to go fishing for fun?
Yes, if you are recreationally fishing for finfish, you need the CRFL.

Which recreational gear use beside hook and line would require someone to purchase a CRFL?
Any type of recreational finfish harvest activity not included under the N.C. Recreational Commercial Gear License will require this license. This includes, but is not limited to spears, gigs, hook-and-line, bait-and-line, seines less than 30 feet, dip nets, landing nets ,and cast nets.

I have a Recreational Commercial Gear License (RCGL); do I still need a CRFL to go fishing for fun with a rod and reel?
Yes.

Do I need a CRFL to use a cast net to recreationally harvest fish?
Yes

Do I need a CRFL to use minnow traps to recreationally harvest fish?
Yes

Do I need a CRFL to catch shellfish recreationally?
No.

Do I need a Saltwater Fishing License to use a bait and line to catch crabs?
No.

If I hold a CRFL can I keep all the fish and seafood I catch?
No, you will be held to the state’s recreational size and possession limits.

Can I transfer my CRFL to a family member or other person if I’m not using it?
No, it is unlawful to buy, sell, lend, borrow, assign, or otherwise transfer a license to any other individual.

I am a member of the military currently stationed in North Carolina, but  my legal residence is in another state.  Do I have to purchase a nonresident license?
Nonresident members of the armed forces, including their spouses and children under 18 will be considered residents of North Carolina for the purposes of purchasing and using a Coastal Recreational Fishing or Unified License.

Why do I have to participate in the DMF’s biological data sampling and survey programs?
The purpose of the CRFL is to gather better data about North Carolina’s coastal recreational fishing activity so the DMF can manage fish stocks more effectively. Fisheries managers need to have better estimates on how many people are recreationally fishing and how many and what types of fish they are catching. Sampling and surveys help provide this information.

How will the CRFL money be spent?
It will go into two marine resource funds and be distributed through the Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources commissions. It must be used to manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate, conserve and/or enhance North Carolina’s marine resources.

I sometimes have migrant workers that help me on my farm, are they entitled to a CRFL?
Yes, a migrant farm worker who has in their possession a temporary certification of their status from the Rural Employment Service of the N.C. Employment Security Commission on a form provided by the WRC is entitled to the privileges of a resident of the state.

Are any free fishing days associated with the CRFL?
Yes, every July 4 has been declared a free fishing day, but people still have to abide by recreational size and possession limits.

I am an out-of-state student attending East Carolina University; do I have to buy a nonresident license?
Nonresident students attending a university, college, or community college in the state are considered to be residents and are eligible for resident fishing licenses.

For more license information, please call the DMF at 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632,
or email Janice.Fulcher@ncdenr.gov

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

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