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"Do I need a Massachusetts fishing license?" You'd best know the answer to that question before you cast your line into the Commonwealth's fresh or salt waters!
Licensing laws are different for fresh and saltwater. Here's what you need to know about the rules, where to get your license, how much they cost, and more ...
If you're age 15 and older, you'll need a license to fish in Massachusetts' fresh water lakes, ponds, and streams.
If you're age 16 or older, you'll need a Mass. saltwater fishing permit to fish in
Massachusetts marine waters, including up to the first dam in rivers and
streams that flow to the ocean.
I'm often asked if there's an all-in-one license or permit that's valid for both fresh and saltwater fishing? Short answer: no.
If you plan to fish the fresh and the briney, separate licenses are required.
These are the current (2022) fees published by MassWildlife:
*Note - The prices shown below do not include the $5.00 Wildlands Conservation Stamp fee that is added to the first resident license and all non-resident licenses purchased.
The cost for a Massachusetts saltwater fishing permit is:
You can buy your fresh and saltwater licenses:
When you buy online, you'll be charged a small "convenience fee".
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To give you a complete picture of all the fishing license/permit requirements
that apply in Massachusetts waters, there's one more I should tell you about ...
The U.S. government regulates Atlantic Highly Migratory Species ("HMS") and issues a special permit that's required when fishing for certain species of fish including Atlantic tuna, swordfish, shark and billfish.
Permits are issued to a boat, not to individual anglers.
For example: Let's say that you're planning to take a few of your buddies on your boat for a day of tuna fishing. You'll need to buy an HMS (Angling Category) permit for your boat and keep it onboard.
That permit will allow everyone on your boat to fish for tuna and other highly migratory species in US federal and MA state waters.
In addition to your boat's HMS permit, each angler will also need his/her own Massachusetts saltwater fishing permit if:
HMS Permit applications can be found online at the National Marine Fisheries website. Call (888) 872-8862 for more info.
The fee for an Atlantic HMS Permit for recreational angling is $20.00. The permit is valid from the date of issue through December 31st of that year.
The Atlantic highly migratory species regulations are quite involved and they seem to change constantly.
Fair Warning: Violations can land you in BIG trouble!
Don't expect to get away with, "Sorry, I didn't know." That excuse won't fly with the authorities. It's your responsibility to know the regulations and follow them!
See the National Marine Fisheries Compliance Guide.
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