The prices of most commercial licenses will go up March 1.
The fees will go up by 25 percent, including the fees for Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses and Commercial Shellfish Licenses.
The fee increases were approved by the N.C. General Assembly in this year’s state budget to help support the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Observer Program.
The observer program collects at-sea information about commercial and recreational catches by observing fishing, either onboard fishermen’s vessels or from a division vessel operated in the vicinity of fishing activity.
Observer coverage is a requirement of the state’s Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit for the gill net fisheries. Without this coverage, the fishery must close.
In addition, the for-hire fishing license and ocean fishing pier license structures will change later this year. Both licenses will change from an annual license from day of sale to a fiscal year cycle. Current licenses will be valid until their expiration date to aid in this transition.
The new for-hire license structure eliminates the Blanket For-Hire License and the free For-Hire Permit and creates three new licenses: A Blanket For-Hire Captain’s License, a Blanket For-Hire Vessel License and a Non-Blanket For-Hire Vessel License. This will allow headboat, charter boat, and guide boat operators to choose whether to purchase a vessel license or a captain’s license, depending on the way they do business.
The legislation also set a fee for the Non-Blanket For-Hire Vessel License and increased the out-of-state resident fees for all for-hire licenses.
The Ocean Pier License and the Ocean Fishing Pier Blanket Coastal Recreational Fishing License will be combined into one Ocean Pier License, which will still cover the licensing requirements of the anglers on the pier. The two fees will be combined and result in no increase in total cost.
The state legislature also authorized the Marine Fisheries Commission to:
Set fees of up to $100 each for a number of fishing permits issued by the division. The division currently issues more than 20 permits at no charge and is developing a special permit for the inshore gillnet fishery.
Establish limited entry license fees of up to $500 each. Currently, the only limited entry license the division issues is the License to Land Flounder for the summer flounder trawl fishery.
The commission is scheduled to discuss fee increases for permits and limited entry licenses at its February meeting. Establishing these license and permits fees will require rule changes, which will entail a public comment process.
The increases in permit fees were also earmarked for the Observer Program in the state budget.
Click here for a table of fee increases and their effective dates.
For more information, contact Don Hesselman, License and Statistics Section chief, at 252-808-8099 or Don.Hesselman@ncdenr.gov.