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New Hampshire

Saltwater Fishing

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 the 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.

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
  • 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*

19 inches

See Special Rules

April 1 – June 30

  • Non-federally permitted vessels fishing in state waters with a commercial saltwater license are restricted to current daily trip limits for common pool vessels pursuant to 50CFR648.86
  • If federally permitted, current federal regulations and trip limits apply
  • See Gulf of Maine Cod Spawning Protection Area map on Cod Spawning Protection Area
Atlantic Halibut*

41 inches

1 fish per trip/vessel

April 1 – June 30

Head and tail intact
Atlantic Menhaden

6,000 lbs./day once state quota harvested

  • Only non-directed or small scale gears permitted in state waters (call 868-1095 for list of allowable gears)
  • See gill net/small-scale purse seine restrictions (Special River Restrictions)
  • No transfer of catch at sea
  • Daily electronic reporting requirement for menhaden dealers
Atlantic Sea Herring
  • September 23 - November 3
  • 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 Fees & Requirements)
  • 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

73 inches CFL**

Variable; see website

Under federal management; contact NMFS — 1-888-USA-TUNA or; Commercial saltwater license required for sale

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 Inland 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)
  • Commercial saltwater license required to sell

7 inches

Gill net: April 1 – June 30

River Herring (Alewife/
Blueback Herring)

Closed to all harvest in NH waters

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


Take and 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