Current License Holders Reminded of Renewal Period and New Logbook Endorsement
PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management announces that it is accepting applications for new and renewed commercial fishing licenses for 2014. The marine fishing license year runs from January 1 through December 31. A total of 51 new "restricted" shellfish and finfish license endorsements will be available this year, in addition to the open "non-restricted" license endorsements. The Department also announces the enactment of several changes to the licensing program, all aimed at improving opportunities for the Rhode Island commercial fishing community, as well as improving program administration.
New Commercial Fishing License Opportunities
For 2014, 30 new quahog endorsements and 12 new soft-shell clam endorsements will be available to Rhode Island residents, and nine new restricted finfish endorsements will be available to residents and non residents. All of the new license endorsements will be issued in accordance with the prioritization process set forth in the regulations for the licensing program.
As is the case every year, any Rhode Island resident may also obtain a commercial fishing license with the following endorsements: shellfish other, non-restricted finfish, and/or non-lobster crustacean. Residents aged 65 or older may also obtain an over-65 shellfish license, and resident full-time students age 23 or younger may obtain a student shellfish license. Commercial fishing licenses with a non-restricted finfish endorsement are also available to individuals who do not reside in Rhode Island.
All applications for new license endorsements must be fully completed and submitted to DEM on or before February 28. After February 28, DEM cannot accept any applications for new commercial fishing licenses for 2014, in accordance with state law.
Additional information regarding the licensing program, including application forms and a guidance document for applicants seeking the new quahog, soft-shell clam, and restricted finfish endorsements, is available on DEM's website at www.dem.ri.gov. (Click the "Hunting, Fishing, Boating Licenses" link on the main page.) Applicants must apply in person at DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing in Providence.
Commercial Fishing License Renewals
For all individuals who held commercial licenses in 2013, the 2014 license renewal period runs from January 1 through February 28. A late-fee renewal period runs from March 1 through April 29, and includes a $200 late fee in addition to the cost of the license. After April 29, DEM cannot accept any license renewal applications, in accordance with state law.
Licenses may be renewed now through April 29 by applying in person at DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing in Providence or by applying online via DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov. (Click the "Hunting, Fishing, Boating Licenses" link on the main page.) License holders are reminded that prior to license renewal, all 2013 logbooks must be on file with DEM's Marine Fisheries Program, located at 3 Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown. Logbooks must be submitted at the Marine Fisheries Office in Jamestown, not at the DEM Licensing Office in Providence. For questions concerning the logbooks, call the Marine Fisheries office at 423-1944.
Commercial Vessel Declarations
All owners of commercial fishing vessels must obtain/renew their commercial vessel declarations for 2014. Declarations are available from the DEM Boat Registration and Licensing Office in Providence.
New Logbook Endorsement
A new logbook endorsement is in effect for 2014 and thereafter. The endorsement is required for commercial license holders who wish to continue reporting to DEM's Marine Fisheries Program via paper logbooks. The cost of the new endorsement is $25. Those who choose to participate in the online reporting program may do so at no charge, and are not required to obtain the new logbook endorsement. The Division has been conducting training workshops for the online reporting program, with the next one scheduled for February 5 at 6 p.m. at the URI Bay Campus. Contact Anna Webb at 401-423-1926 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
New Endorsement Status for Scup and Winter Flounder
Effective this year, scup are no longer categorized as a restricted finfish during the winter period, which runs through April (and begins again next November). Accordingly, scup can be harvested and landed in Rhode Island during the winter period with either a non-restricted finfish endorsement on a RI fishing license or a RI multipurpose license (if harvested from state waters) or a RI landing permit (if harvested from federal waters). From May through October, when the scup fishery is subject to a state quota, scup may only be harvested and landed in Rhode Island with a restricted finfish endorsement on a RI fishing license or a RI multipurpose license (if harvested from state waters) or a RI resident landing permit or non-resident landing permit with restricted finfish (if harvested from federal waters). The change, which affects the winter period when scup are not subject to state quotas, provides more opportunities for residents and non-residents to fish for and land scup in Rhode Island.
Also effective this year, winter flounder are no longer categorized as a restricted finfish. The new categorization applies year-round. Accordingly, winter flounder can be harvested and landed in Rhode Island with either a non-restricted finfish endorsement on a RI fishing license or a RI multipurpose license (if harvested from state waters) or a RI landing permit (if harvested from federal waters). Winter flounder are not subject to state quotas. Because they are often harvested in conjunction with other non-state-quota species, such as cod, yellowtail flounder, and other groundfish, vessels with a mix of groundfish, including winter flounder, onboard had been prevented from landing their harvests in Rhode Island if they lacked a restricted finfish landing permit. Removing winter flounder from the restricted finfish endorsement category will open up more landing opportunities in Rhode Island, which is particularly important given recent changes to federal regulations that have increased winter flounder harvest opportunities in federal waters. In RI state waters, winter flounder remain subject to a low 50 pounds/day possession limit based on their overfished status.
Consolidation of Landing Permits
DEM has enacted major changes to the landing permit program. Effective this year, the prior 11 categories of landing permits have been consolidated to three. The change simplifies the program and makes it easier for fishermen wishing to land their harvests in Rhode Island to obtain the necessary authorization to do so. There are now just three types of Rhode Island landing permits, as follows:
Resident Landing Permit – enables any Rhode Island resident to land and sell in Rhode Island any marine species harvested outside RI waters, provided the individual/vessel has a valid federal permit or a valid license from another state.
Non-Resident Landing Permit – enables any non-resident to land and sell in Rhode Island any marine species harvested outside RI waters, except restricted finfish, provided the individual/vessel has a valid federal permit or a valid license from another state.
Non-Resident with Restricted Finfish Landing Permit – enables the holder to land and sell in Rhode Island any marine species harvested outside RI waters, including restricted finfish, provided the individual/vessel has a valid federal permit or a valid license from another state. (There were only seven non-residents eligible to obtain this permit in 2013.)
There is no application deadline associated with landing permits. They may be obtained anytime during the year, either at DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing in Providence, or at DEM's Port Management Office in Galilee.
License/endorsement/landing permit questions may be directed to DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing at 222-6647.