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Recreational Licenses

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations New Hampshire Saltwater Fishing

N.H. Recreational Saltwater License

In 2009, legislation was passed implementing a Recreational Saltwater License in New Hampshire, in addition to Charter Boat and Party Boat licenses. Passage of this law exempted licensed N.H. saltwater anglers from NOAA’s National Saltwater Angler Registry (countmyfish.noaa.gov) and took effect in 2011.

Cost

  • $11* (N.H. resident and nonresident)

Recreational fishing licenses are available for purchase online or through any of 200+ N.H. license agents statewide.

Who Needs the License?

All persons ages 16 and older participating in recreational saltwater fishing who wish to take, possess, or transport finfish from coastal and estuarine waters of New Hampshire. This includes anglers, spearfishers, and persons using other gear types to take marine finfish for personal use and which are not sold.

There is no exemption for persons over age 68 from the recreational saltwater license. This is because we need to collect the name, address, and phone number of all those fishing in saltwater each year in order to obtain an exemption for N.H. license holders from the National Saltwater Angler Registry and the associated fee.

Exemptions

You do not need the recreational fishing license to fish from a licensed charter or party boat.

Persons who purchased a Lifetime fishing or combination license prior to 2011 may obtain a Limited Annual Saltwater License for Lifetime Licensees to fish for saltwater smelt, American shad, trout and salmon in coastal and estuarine waters. This permit must be applied for each year by mail or at Fish and Game in Concord and is good only for the fish listed above. If you wish to fish for other fish species such as striped bass, flounder, cod, etc. you must purchase a N.H. Recreational Saltwater License.

Reciprocity

Resident anglers possessing a valid N.H. Recreational Saltwater License can legally fish in all tidal and estuarine areas of Massachusetts and in Maine. Reciprocity will be granted in N.H. for those nonresident anglers possessing a valid Maine or Mass. saltwater license.

Charter and Party Boat License

Cost

  • Charter boat: $51*
  • Party boat: $101*

Who Needs the License?

A charter or party boat license is required for party boats, charter boats, dive boats, head boats, and other boats hired by persons to engage in recreational saltwater fishing opportunities which includes the taking of any marine finfish, by any means for personal use only and which are not sold.

Charter boat is a vessel less than 100 gross tons that meets the requirements of the US Coast Guard to carry 6 or fewer passengers for hire.

Party boat or head boat is a vessel that holds a valid Certificate of Inspection issued by the US Coast Guard to carry passengers for hire.

Passengers hiring a licensed party or charter boat do not need to have a Recreational Saltwater Fishing license while fishing from the vessel.

Reciprocity

New Hampshire law provides reciprocity for Maine and Massachusetts licensed charter and party boats, but only if those states provide reciprocity for N.H. licensed vessels. At this time, only Massachusetts provides reciprocity for N.H. licensed charter and party boat vessels; licensed N.H. vessels may operate and fish in Mass. state waters, but may not pick up or drop off passengers or land fish in Mass.

Restrictions

Sale Prohibited

Seaweed, rockweed or sea moss of N.H. origin may not be sold outside the state. Softshell clams and oysters of N.H. origin, striped bass regardless of origin, and quahogs, littlenecks and cherrystones (Mercenaria mercenaria) less than 1 inch in shell thickness cannot be sold.

It is Unlawful to:

  • import any living marine plant or animal for release without a permit;
  • set a net so it extends beyond the thread of the stream. The thread of stream means the center of the main channel;
  • set a net within 1,000 feet of another net, measured along the thread of the stream;
  • Molest, pull, tend, possess or disturb gear used or marine species raised in a marine aquaculture operation;
  • take lobsters by diving, angling, spearing or dipping;
  • dump dead or injured fish or fish parts within bays, rivers, harbors or upon the shores. This does not restrict the use of fish or fish parts for chum or bait, nor the releasing of dead or injured undersized fish taken by angling;
  • be on a fishway without permission;
  • take salmon or striped bass by netting, except when landing by use of hand-held dip nets;
  • take finfish, horseshoe crabs, American eels or other species for commercial purposes (excluding lobster/crab) without obtaining a harvest permit.

Law Enforcement

Prohibition

It is unlawful to throw, dump, destroy or otherwise dispose of any fish, lobsters, crabs, or shellfish when a Conservation Officer has informed a person his boat, motor vehicle, wharf, dock or landing, or contents thereof, are about to be inspected. The same applies to any pot, trap, car, or any other receptacle used to catch or store lobsters or crabs. Any person who refuses or attempts to refuse to stand by for such inspection is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any lobsters or crabs, thrown or dumped or caused to be thrown or dumped, are prima facie evidence they were illegally taken. A person is guilty of a violation for each lobster or crab thrown or dumped.

Leave Lobster Pots Alone

Lobster pots, traps, warps (ropes), cars or buoys are private property, regardless of the location. This includes on the beach and in the rocks. No person except the owner or a conservation officer can possess, lift, molest or disturb them. To do so can result in a fine of $2,000 and up to 1 year in jail.

Charter & Party Boat Operators: Please Note

Operators of vessels with a N.H. party or charter boat license operating in coastal and estuarine waters of the state are exempt from the need to obtain a N.H. Guide license if:

  1. They possess a US Coast Guard-issued Master License or “6-pack” license, and
  2. They or a crew member on board the vessel has current certification (with practical exam) in basic first aid and CPR.

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*Includes $1 agent fee