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Commercial Saltwater Fishing – Finfish

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations New Hampshire Saltwater Fishing

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.

2016 New Hampshire Commercial Saltwater Fishing Regulations


Min. Length
(total length)


Closed Season/Day

Special Rules

American Eel

9 inches

Fishway closures:
October 2 – June 14

  • See Coastal Harvest Section
  • Harvest Permit required if taken by any method other than angling

American Plaice*

12 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*

No cod take allowed in NH state waters

  • Effective May 1, 2015, all cod caught in New Hampshire waters must be immediately released
  • If federally permitted, current federal regulations and trip limits apply
  • See Gulf of Maine Cod Spawning Protection Area map

Atlantic Halibut*

41 inches

1 fish per trip/vessel

April 1 – June 30

Head and tail intact

Atlantic Menhaden

6,000 pounds/day

Land only once per day

Atlantic Sea Herring

  • September 21 –
    October 18
  • 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

Black Sea Bass

11 inches

Length does not include filament/tail extension

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


16 inches

April 1 – June 30

Head and tail intact, unless fillet is 10 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)

4 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


7 inches

Gill net: April 1 – June 30

River Herring (Alewife/
Blueback Herring)

Sunrise Wednesday – sunrise Thursday

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

White Perch


Sale is prohibited

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*

13 inches

April 1 – June 30

Yellowtail Flounder*

12 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.