Commercial Fishing

Licenses 

Commercial fishing licenses may be purchased in-person or by mail from DNR offices located at One Conservation Way, Brunswick, GA  31520 (912) 264-7237  or  2065 Hwy. 278 S.E., Social Circle, GA 30025  (770) 918-6401    For information regarding federal commercial fishing permits please contact NOAA Fisheries or call (888) 872-8862.

A completed commercial license application, application for public benefit, and valid ID must be presented to purchase a commercial fishing license.  Application packets may be downloaded via the links below. 

Click here to download the commercial license application packet

Click here to download the commercial castnet lottery application

Click here to download the saltwater guide license application packet 

 

Commercial Fishing License Changes

NEW!   Seafood Dealer’s License:   This license is required by any person or entity, other than the end-consumer, who purchases seafood products from a harvester unless the harvester is a licensed seafood dealer.   Reporting requirements apply:   This license and distinct and separate from seafood dealer’s licenses issued by other agencies.

NEW Trawler Crew License:  An optional license covering all crew members aboard a trawler while fishing.  Crew members are exempt from the personal commercial fishing license and endorsements only while aboard a vessel operating with a valid crew license.  This license is only valid for the vessel for which it is purchased and is not transferable.

NEW! Species Endorsements:  Endorsements are required of licensed commercial fishermen harvesting or landing any of the species listed in the below.  IF the vessel has a valid trawler crew license no license or endorsement is required for crew while landing and harvesting those species with a “yes” in the “Covered by Trawler Crew License” column. 

Species Endorsement Requirements Covered by Trawler Crew License?
Bait Minnows Required for harvesters.  Cashiers not actively harvesting are exempt NO
Bait Shrimp Required for harvesters.  Cashiers not actively harvesting are exempt NO
Cannonball Jellyfish Required to harvest or land.  Vessel captain or owner must have a purchasing agreement with an approved buyer on file with the Coastal Resources Division YES
Catfish in Saltwater

Required for harvest or landing in saltwater.  Not required for freshwater harvest 

N/A
Crab Required for employees of licensed commercial crabbers, soft shell dealers, and trawler crew  YES
Eel Required to harvest eels N/A
Finfish Required to harvest finfish, including trawl-caught fish, OTHER than shad, catfish in saltwater, and bait minnows.   YES
Food Shrimp Required for employees of licensed commercial shrimp castnet harvesters and trawler crew YES
Horseshoe Crab Required to harvest or land, including trawler crew YES
Shad Required to harvest or land N/A
Shellfish Required for master collection permitees and employees actively involved in harvest or landings of shellfish  N/A
Whelk Required to harvest or land whelk, including trawler crew YES

 

Commercial License Fee Quick Reference

License Type Resident Non-Resident
Commercial Fishing License $20 $200
Crabbing $20 $200
Crab Pots (per pot) $2.50 $2.50
Cast Net Shrimp $250 $2500
Trawl Vessel Crew $200 $600

Species Endorsements  Effective 4/1/2018)

$5 $10
Bait Dealer $40 $250
Soft-Shell Crab Dealer $40 n/a
Seafood Dealer $40 n/a
Trawl Vessel $85 + $3/ft over 18ft +$150
Non-Trawl Vessel $5 + $50
Pier License $400 n/a
Saltwater Fishing Guide $25 $50
Customer License up to 6 $150 $400
Customer License 7+ $400 $400

Licenses are valid from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.  There is an additional $5 transaction fee per license. 

 

Commercial Fishing Regulations

Fishermen who take finfish or other seafood for commercial sale must possess a valid commercial fishing license and if a boat is used, a commercial boat license.  The license must be on your person while fishing (O.C.G.A. 27-4-110). 

Commercial fishermen must abide by season, creel and size limits when harvesting any of the finfish for which the Georgia General Assembly or the Board of Natural Resources (Board) has created regulations.

However, individuals fishing with a valid federal commercial fishing permit in federal waters may exceed the creel limits provided those waters are open for commercial fishing with specified gear, minimum size limits are observed, the quota has not been met, and the Board has not prohibited sale of the species.

Finfish for which there are minimum sizes and/or creel and possession limits must be landed head and fins intact. Transfer at sea is prohibited. (O.C.G.A. 127-4-130.1)

Commercial Regulation Book

Georgia Commercial Fishing Regulations Handbook (updated March 2018)

Regulatory information on federally managed species can be found at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAMFC) website

Highly Migratory Species (billfish, sharks, tuna, swordfish) regulatory information is available from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).   


Landings Data

Commercial Seafood Landings data are collected via trip tickets completed by seafood harvesters and dealers.  Summaries of Georgia's landings are available as Adobe Acrobat (pdf) files. 

Georgia landings data are also available from Julie.Califf@dnr.ga.gov, the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).


Data Collection and Surveys

Division staff conduct a variety of regularly scheduled surveys to gather biological, distribution, habitat, catch and effort data on a number of recreationally important species.  Examples include the carcass recovery project, the cooperative angler tagging project, recreational angler surveys, red drum and shark longlining, seafood harvest reporting, and trawl surveys. This information is used by the Department and interstate organizations to make resource management decisions at both the state and regional level. Click this link to learn more about Data Collection and Surveys.

 


Shellfish Harvest

The expansive marshes and nutrient rich waters of coastal Georgia offer the entrepreneur a lucrative career in the commercial cultivation and harvest of shellfish. Currently, hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) and the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) are the only species cultivated and harvested in nineteen (19) commercial harvest areas.

Click here for information on Commercial Shellfish Harvesting