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Commercial Saltwater Fishing – Finfish

New Hampshire has an active commercial marine fishing industry. Commercial finfish harvesting occurs almost exclusively in federal waters. State licenses may be required to harvest, transport, sell, or possess.

Reporting Requirements: Any person holding a permit to net or harvest from coastal waters must submit a monthly report of fishing activities. Forms are available from Fish and Game Marine Division. Fishermen must also participate in the National Marine Fisheries Service Vessel Trip Report program, if they have a federal permit for specific species.

  • Groundfish: See tables below for specific information and Definitions for a list of groundfish species.
  •  No mobile gear may be used to take finfish or crustaceans in state waters.
  •  Minimum mesh size for gillnets and mobile gear is 6.5 inches to take, transport or possess groundfish.
  •  All federally permitted vessels must abide by current federal trip limits for groundfish.

2013 New Hampshire Commercial Saltwater Fishing Regulations


Min. Length
(total length)


Closed Season/Day

Special Rules

American Eel

6 inches


Fishway closures:
October 2 – June 14

American Plaice*

14 inches


April 1 – June 30


American Shad




  • All shad taken in State waters must be immediately released
  • Commercial landing cannot exceed 5% of the total landing by weight per trip

Atlantic Cod*

22 inches

  • 500 pound limit when taken by gillnet
  • 300 pound limit when taken by hook gear

April 1 – June 30

  • Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 12 inches minimum
  • If federally permitted, current federal trip limits apply
  • Gulf of Maine Cod Spawning Protection Area; see Cod Spawning Protection Area map

Atlantic Halibut*

41 inches

1 fish per trip/vessel

April 1 – June 30

Head and tail intact

Atlantic Sea Herring



  • September 21 –
    October 19
  • Contact Marine Fisheries for prohibited landing days
  • Fish and Game Director may revise closure dates
  • Max. incidental catch = 2,000 lbs/day during specific area closures
  • Permit required to possess herring (see License Information)
  • May be possessed without a permit for use as bait when tending lobster and crab pots and recreational fishing

Atlantic Wolffish




Taking and possession prohibited

Bluefin Tuna




Under federal management; contact NMFS — 1-888-USA-TUNA or or




October 1 – June 30
(by any method)


Dogfish, Spiny


Contact Marine Division for current trip limits: (603) 868-1095

May 1 – June 30

  • Subject to additional closures
  • Finning prohibited


18 inches


April 1 – June 30

Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 12 inches minimum


17 inches



  • Tails: minimum 11 inches; measured from the anterior portion of the fourth cephalic dorsal spine to the end of the caudal fin
  • Livers: shall not exceed 25% of the total weight of monkfish tails or 10% of the total weight of whole monkfish on any trip

Ocean Pout*



April 1 – June 30



19 inches


Gill net: April 1 – June 30


Rainbow Smelt (saltwater)


10 liquid quarts/day

Net or Weirs:
March 1 – December 15 North of
Memorial Bridge (Portsmouth)

  • Head and tail intact
  • Bow nets and dip nets held in hand may be used in:
    Oyster, Squamscott, Bellamy, and Lamprey Rivers
  • Harvest Permit required for nets (see Coastal Harvest Section)
  • Commercial saltwater license required to sell


9 inches


Gill net: April 1 – June 30


River Herring
Blueback Herring)



Sunrise Wednesday – sunrise Thursday

  • Harvest Permit required if taken by any form of netting (including chicken wire)
  • See Special River Restrictions for specific river regulations

Sharks — Blue, Porbeagle, Shortfin Mako and Thresher




  • Porbeagle — no commercial take in state waters
  • All sharks — head, fins and tail must remain attached through landing
  • Additional federal regulations apply in federal waters
    (call 1-978-281-9315)

Striped Bass




Take by netting prohibited; sale prohibited





Possession prohibited

Summer Flounder*




Take prohibited

White Hake*



April 1 – June 30


Windowpane Flounder*



April 1 – June 30


Winter Flounder *

12 inches


April 1 – June 30

If not federally permitted for groundfish, may possess up to 500 lbs/vessel

Witch Flounder*



April 1 – June 30


Yellowtail Flounder*

13 inches


April 1 – June 30


*All groundfish species that are filleted and skinned must retain at least 2 square inches of contiguous skin intact for identification purposes.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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