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Commercial Fisheries Licensing Review

New York Fisheries Licensing Report

DEC has engaged the services of George Lapointe, a marine fisheries consultant, well versed in marine fisheries issues, to assist in reviewing and revising how we manage the licensing of commercial fishing activity in New York State. Mr. Lapointe is a former commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources and a former chair of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Marine fisheries consultant George Lapointe produced a report of recommendations in an effort to revise and improve New York State commercial licensing system. A report of LaPointe's findings is now available: New York Marine Fisheries Licensing Report (PDF).

Public comment on the draft report closed on September 30, 2019.

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


DEC Division of Marine Resources issues the commercial fishing licenses and permits to those individuals who wish to harvest and land specific marine organisms from New York State waters in the marine and coastal district or who wish to land in New York State marine organisms taken from other waters. Most of these are limited entry licenses or permits; applicants must meet certain qualifications to be eligible to apply. In addition, transferability is limited.

The Food Fishing License was established in the Environmental Conservation Law in 1987. Over the past 30 years, the DEC DMR 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

DEC and Mr. Lapointe facilitated nine meetings across the Marine and Coastal District. Five meetings were held in Suffolk County, one meeting in Nassau County, and three meetings were held in New York City (Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx).

Mr. Lapointe will analyze and evaluate the current marine commercial licensing scheme and the feedback provided by stakeholders to determine appropriate modifications and improvements the current scheme.

A list of the topics addressed during this project follows:

  • Specifying qualifications for license issuance
  • License transferability
  • Identifying means of entry for new participants in New York's fisheries
  • Apprenticeship program
  • Resolution of the latent licenses issue