PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is accepting applications for new and renewed commercial fishing licenses through Monday, March 1. A limited number of new commercial fishing licenses for the harvest of shellfish are available this year for Rhode Island residents. Any resident aged 65 or older as of June 30, 2021 may obtain a 65 & Over Shellfish License, and any resident who is a full-time student, aged 23 or younger as of June 30, 2021 may obtain a Student Shellfish License; both licenses allow for the commercial harvest of quahogs.
New endorsement opportunities for Rhode Island residents are as follows:
- 36 new quahog endorsements will be issued on the Commercial Fishing License (CFL) that allow for the commercial harvest of quahogs
- six new soft shell clam endorsements will be issued on the CFL that allow for the commercial harvest of soft shell clams
In addition, nine new restricted finfish endorsements, available to both residents and non-residents, will be issued this year on the Principal Effort License (PEL). The restricted finfish endorsement allows for the commercial harvest of any of the five species of restricted finfish: summer flounder, scup, striped bass, black sea bass and tautog.
Commercial fishers are reminded that the marine license year runs from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. The renewal period runs from January 1 through February 28, 2021 for Multi-Purpose License holders, PEL holders, CFL holders and Shellfish Over-65 License holders. Because February 28 falls on a Sunday this year, fishers have until Monday, March 1 to renew licenses with the statutory fee. From March 2 to April 29, license holders in the above listed categories may renew existing licenses but are required to pay the $200.00 renewal with grace period late fee. Please note the $200.00 late fee is in addition to the Statutory renewal fee
Applications for the new endorsements must be filed with DEM by March 1. The applications will be reviewed, and the new endorsements awarded, according to the priority selection process set forth in the Commercial and Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licensing Regulations. Applications are located at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/managementservices/licenses/commfish.php under the "2021 New License Opportunities & Applications." Successful applicants will be chosen according to the Commercial & Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations.
Rhode Island residents may also obtain, without limits or restrictions, new CFLs with the following endorsements: shellfish other, non-restricted finfish, and non-lobster crustacean. Any non-resident may also obtain a new commercial license with a non-restricted finfish endorsement. Applications for all new licenses must be filed with DEM by March 1. Interested applicants are encouraged to review all guidance documents and applications posted on dem.ri.gov.
DEM launched an education and certification program that is mandatory for everyone who commercially harvests and lands shellfish in RI. The goal of the program is to ensure that shellfish harvesters deliver a safe product to shellfish dealers and, in turn, to shellfish consumers. In accordance with US FDA requirements, and regulations adopted by DEM, holders of all applicable commercial licenses and landing permits must obtain certification by completing a 30-minute online tutorial prior to license issuance. The certification requirement applies to both license/permit renewals and new licenses/permits; all certificates are valid for five years, after which re-certification will be required.
Student Shellfish License holders may renew or obtain a new license through June 30, 2021. A late fee renewal period for certain license holders – Shellfish Over-65, Multi-Purpose, PEL and CFL holders – runs from March 2 through April 29, 2021 and includes a $200 late fee in addition to the cost of the license. Renewals are not available after April 29, 2021.
Commercial licenses may be renewed online through April 29 via DEM's website. License holders are reminded that prior to license renewal, all logbooks must be up to date with DEM's Marine Fisheries Program located at 3 Fort Wetherill Road in Jamestown. For questions concerning the logbooks, please call the Marine Fisheries office at 401-423-1926. DEM's Boat Registration and Licensing Office will not accept logbooks.
Walk-in service at DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing has been paused due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and DEM encourages fishers to renew licenses online at https://www.ri.gov/DEM/commercialmarine/ or by mail to the Office of Boat Registration and Licensing, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908. All applications must be mailed to the Office & postmarked no later than March 1, 2021.
For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.