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Commercial Fisheries Licensing Review

New York Marine Fisheries Licensing Review

DEC worked with marine fisheries consultant, George Lapointe Consulting LLC, to assist in reviewing and revising licensing of commercial fishing activity in New York State. George Lapointe is a former commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources and a former chair of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The New York Marine Fisheries Licensing Review (PDF) final report is available.

DEC will implement a step-by-step approach to address the report's recommendations to modify the commercial licensing process.

Recommendations include:

  • clarifying the meaning of "immediate family" pursuant to the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL);
  • evaluating opportunities to improve fisheries management legislatively, including approval of the temporary use of a limited entry license by a non-license holder in the event of a medical hardship and modification of the selection process for new limited entry licenses to increase the probability of applicants that have applied for multiple years to receive the license; establishing a definition and standards for latent licenses, which are issued but report no fishing activity;
  • initiating a license requalification program to require verification of recent and active fishing operations to maintain limited entry licenses;
  • launching a transferability program of limited entry licenses for eligible potential license holders; and
  • initiating an apprentice program to provide increased opportunities in marine commercial fisheries

Limited Entry Permit Clarification: Immediate Family

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) section 13-0328 allows a license or permit holder to reissue (transfer) a limited entry license or permit to an immediate family member. Likewise, a license or permit holder may designate an immediate family member to receive their limited entry license or permit in the event of the license or permit holder's death.

  • "Immediate family", as used in ECL 13-0328 (6) and (7) refers to the spouse, sibling, child, grandparent, and grandchild of the permit holder. These family members do not need to be living in the same house as the license or permit holder.
  • "Immediate family" also includes all individuals who are related by blood (such as cousin, niece/nephew, aunt/uncle) and who are living at the same domicile as the license or permit holder.
  • "Immediate family" also includes all individuals who are related by marriage or adoption and who are living at the same domicile as the permit holder.
  • The domicile requirement only applies to individuals who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption.


DEC Division of Marine Resources issues the commercial fishing licenses and permits to those individuals who wish to harvest and land commercially harvested fish from New York State waters in the marine and coastal district. For commercial limited entry licenses or permits, applicants must meet certain qualifications to be eligible to apply and transferability is limited.

The Food Fishing License was established in the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) in 1987. Over the past 35 years, the DEC commercial fishing licensing scheme has evolved in response to changes in fish populations and the needs of interstate fisheries management strategies. As fish populations continued to fluctuate and fishery management strategies changed, additional licenses and permits were established and regulations grew more complex.

List of the current limited entry licenses and permits:

  • Food Fish License (Resident, Non-Resident)
  • Crab Permit (Resident, Non-Resident)
  • Whelk License (Resident, Non-Resident)

Permits that are available to the Food Fish License (limited to renewing applicants only):

  • Summer Flounder Commercial Permit
  • Striped Bass Commercial Harvesters Permit

Permit under moratorium (limited to renewing applicants only):

Stakeholder Meetings

Public Meetings Held at Multiple Venues in the Marine and Coastal District

DEC hosted a series of meetings across the State's Marine and Coastal District to gather feedback from key stakeholders about the State's current commercial fishing licensing system and ideas for reforms to modernize and improve the program. These meetings, led by Mr. Lapointe, offered the opportunity for commercial fishermen and stakeholders to ask questions and provide their insight on the current licensing scheme.

Once a draft report was released, DEC hosted additional meetings in Suffolk and Nassau county for stakeholders to review the report, ask questions, and provide verbal and written comments.