NY State Saltwater Fishing Licence

Why did the New York State Legislature approve a new requirement for marine fishing licenses?

The federal government, under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, mandated that, beginning in 2010, all anglers fishing coastal waters must register with the federal government so that they could subsequently survey marine anglers to develop better estimates of recreational catch and harvest. If a state had a way of providing the federal government with a list of marine anglers, then the state could apply for an exemption to the federal registry requirement. A list of licensed anglers meets the requirement for the federal registry exemption. The federal government was prohibited from charging for this registry until 2011, but they made it clear that they would charge for the federal registry when no longer prohibited and that the revenues would go into the general federal coffers and not directed toward marine resource management. So anglers were facing a saltwater registry requirement, with a fee, or a state marine license requirement. Aiming to keep license fees in New York to fund state conservation programs rather than sending the money to the federal government, New York lawmakers approved a new state marine fishing license.

Under what circumstances do I need a recreational marine fishing license?

Persons 16 years of age and older need to acquire a recreational marine fishing license if they are:

  • fishing in the Marine and Coastal District or
  • fishing any water (such as the Hudson River, Delaware River, or Mohawk River and their tributaries) where the angler is fishing for “migratory fish from the sea” (such as striped bass, American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, alewife) or
  • taking marine baitfish for any purpose.

The Marine and Coastal District includes all the waters of the Atlantic Ocean within three nautical miles from the coast ands all other tidal waters within the state, including the Hudson River up to the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.

When will the license requirements become effective?

Beginning October 1, 2009, all anglers, required to do so, must have a recreational marine fishing license.

Are there any exemptions whereby I don’t need to purchase a recreational marine fishing license?

Legally blind persons and members of the Armed Forces who qualify for a free license under New York’s Patriot Act are exempt from the requirement to buy the new recreational marine fishing license, but they must secure a free license from a license issuing agent.

Also, people fishing in the Marine and Coastal District on an appropriately NYSDEC licensed charter boat or party boat and those fishing more than 3 miles offshore (outside of the Marine and Coastal District) do not need to have a recreational marine fishing license.

Where can I purchase a recreational marine fishing license?

Recreational marine fishing licenses will be offered for sale as part of DEC’s automated licensing system (DECALS) and are available at all locations where hunting and fishing licenses are offered (most town clerks; many bait and tackle shops; sporting goods stores; DEC regional offices in Albany, Allegheny, Buffalo, Ray Brook, Stony Brook, and Watertown).

You can also purchase your licenses via telephone 1-86-NY-DECALS (1-866-933-2257) or online by visiting the DEC Internet Sporting License Sales page.

What is the cost of a recreational marine license?

Resident annual marine fishing license – $10
Resident 7-day marine fishing license – $8
Resident 1-day marine fishing license – $4
Resident lifetime marine fishing license – $150
Resident lifetime combination fishing and recreational fishing license – $450

Non-resident annual marine fishing license – $15
Non-resident 7-day marine fishing license – $10
Non-resident 1-day marine fishing license – $5

I have a lifetime fishing license, do I still need to purchase a recreational marine license?

Yes.

I have a lifetime sportsman license, do I still need to purchase a recreational marine license?

Yes.

Can I upgrade my lifetime sportsman license to include lifetime marine recreational fishing?

Currently, there are no provisions for an upgrade to add the recreational marine fishing license to any existing lifetime license, so you need to purchase the lifetime marine fishing license for $150 or purchase an annual, 7-day, or 1-day license or fish on a party/charter boat that is exempt from the license requirement.

What is the valid license year for the recreational marine fishing license?

The license year for the recreational marine license runs on a calendar-year basis: from January 1 through December 31.

If I purchase a recreational marine fishing license for Fall 2009, do I need to purchase another one to fish in 2010?

Yes. Since the license year runs the same as a calendar year, all recreational marine fishing licenses expire on midnight December 31 of a given year.

I only fish on party boats or charter boats; do I still need a marine fishing license?

Not if you fish on an appropriately NYSDEC-licensed party boat or charter boat in the Marine and Coastal District In order for anglers to fish on these boats without the need for a recreational marine fishing license, the charter boat or party boat must purchase a marine and coastal district party and charter boat license (at a cost of $250) and a recreational marine fishing license (at a cost of $400) that allows for the angler license exemption.

Do all party and charter boats operating in the Marine and Coastal District need to purchase the additional $400 recreational fishing license?

Yes. In order for a party or charter boat to carry recreational fishing passengers in the Marine and Coastal District or land fish taken outside the territorial waters of New York (beyond three miles from shore), the owner or operator of the boat must purchase both a party or charter boat license for $250 and a recreational marine fishing license for $400.

If I am a charter captain who operates outside the Marine and Coastal District, what license(s) do I need?

All fishing guides (including charter captains) operating for hire on the waters of New York State need to have a license to guide. The licensed guide program is administered by NYS DEC’s Forest Rangers. The licensed guide application and testing process is available on our website.

The exception to the requirement of holding a valid guide license is for persons operating or assisting upon a public vessel for hire. Public vessel for hire for the purposes of this regulation means all passenger-carrying vessels and includes charter fishing boats which operate on the Atlantic Ocean and all other marine and coastal waters, tidal waters including the Hudson River up to the Troy Barrier Dam, the St. Lawrence River, Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, and the navigable portions of their tributaries. Vessels on these waters are separately licensed by the United States Coast Guard or New York State. These licenses however do not include fishing privileges.

What fishing license do I need to fish in the Hudson River?

Since there is no longer an exemption to the requirement for a fishing license to take fish from the Hudson River south of the Troy Barrier Dam at Troy, anglers will need to have a license when fishing the Hudson River. Depending on the specific location of the Hudson River fishing activities, and/or the specific species fished for, an angler may need to have a recreational marine fishing license, a [freshwater] fishing license or both licenses:

  • If you are fishing downstream from the Tappan Zee Bridge, you are considered fishing in the marine and coastal district and will need to have a recreational marine fishing license.
  • If you are fishing upstream from the Tappan Zee Bridge and are fishing for non-migratory fish (such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish, carp, walleye, and perch) only, you need to have a freshwater fishing license.
  • If you are fishing upstream from the Tappan Zee Bridge and are fishing for “migratory fish from the sea” (such as striped bass, hickory shad, blueback herring, or alewife) only, you need to have a recreational marine fishing license.
  • If you are fishing upstream from the Tappan Zee Bridge and are fishing for migratory fish from the sea and non-migratory fish, you need both a recreational marine fishing license and a [freshwater] fishing license.

Please note that the Page 12 of the “New York Freshwater Fishing 2009-10 Official Regulations Guide” is incorrect. The correct information for license requirements when fishing the Hudson River is as listed above.

What license do I need to fish the tributaries to the Hudson River?

Anglers have always been required to have a freshwater fishing license when fishing the Hudson River tributaries as the Hudson River license exemption only pertained to the Hudson River proper. If an angler is fishing for species other than “migratory fish from the sea,” they need a freshwater fishing license. If an angler is fishing these tributaries for “migratory fish from the sea,” they need a recreational marine fishing license. If they are fishing for “migratory fish from the sea” and non-migratory species of fish, they will need both licenses.

If I fish on a charter boat in the Hudson River, do I need a recreational marine fishing license?

Yes, if you are fishing for “migratory fish from the sea” on a charter boat upstream of the Tappan Zee Bridge, you need to purchase a recreational marine fishing license since New York’s Marine and Coastal District ends at the Tappan Zee Bridge and the party/ charter boat exemption only applies to appropriately- licensed boats operating in New York’s Marine and Coastal District.

No, if you are fishing on an appropriately NYSDEC licensed boat downstream of the Tappan Zee Bridge since you will be fishing in New York’s Marine and Coastal district.

Are there any reciprocal license agreements with other states where marine waters form boundaries with other states?

Yes. If a state sharing a marine water boundary with New York has an active marine license** program and grants New York recreational marine fishing license holders fishing privileges in that state’s portion of the boundary water(s), then New York grants the appropriately licensed anglers from that state the privilege to fish in the New York portion of the boundary water(s) without securing a New York recreational marine fishing license. The following waters are included in this reciprocal agreement:

  • Connecticut: those parts of Long Island Sound lying between New York and Connecticut
  • New Jersey: those parts of New York Harbor, Hudson River, Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill, Raritan Bay, and Atlantic Ocean lying between New Jersey and New York, and
  • Rhode Island: those parts of Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean lying between Rhode Island and New York.

** Note: the state has to issue a marine license. Participation in the federal registry alone does not qualify for the reciprocal agreement.

Where do the revenues generated from the sales of recreational marine fishing license go?

All revenues generated from sales of annual, 7-day, and 1-day resident and non-resident recreational marine licenses will be deposited into the Marine Account. The Marine Account is a special sub-account of the Conservation Fund, and, in accordance with State Finance Law, monies in this account shall be available to the DEC specifically for the care, management, protection and enlargement of marine fish and shellfish resources.

All revenues generated from the sales of lifetime recreational marine fishing licenses and lifetime combination fishing and recreational fishing licenses will be deposited into the Fish and Game Trust Account as per State Finance Law. Monies in the fish and game trust account are invested by the State Comptroller and the earned income is transferred into the Conservation Fund to be used for intended purposes.

How do we know that the Marine Account funds will be used for the intended purposes?

The Marine and Coastal District Conservation, Education, and Research Board (Board) has been charged with the tasks to review the allocations and expenditures of the DEC related to the Marine Account. This Board is also charged with the responsibility to make annual reports to the DEC Commissioner on expenditures and fiscal needs and to make recommendations on maximum fees to be charged for recreational marine fishing licenses.

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