Do You Need A License To Fish In The Ocean?

In many countries, anglers need to buy fishing licenses before getting permission to fish at the state level. That said, fishing also offers support for wildlife & fishery management and contributes to conservation – through the funds generated from the licenses.

As an angler, you’ll most likely need a license before going on a freshwater fishing trip in many states in the US. What about oceans, do you need a fishing permit to fish in the ocean?

The need for a license to fish in the ocean depends on the state you’re planning to fish in. There are a few places in the US, such as California, where you don’t need a saltwater fishing permit. However, in some states, you’ll need to apply for fishing permits, depending on who you are.

Fishing licenses and permits don’t only help state governments across the US and other countries to generate funds necessary to fund wildlife & fishery-related programs. They also help to control the population of different fish species in a specific area.

In the rest of this post, we’ll further share everything you need to know regarding the burning question – “do you need a fishing license to fish in an ocean?”

Is It Legal To Fish In An Ocean?

Is It Legal To Fish In An Ocean

Before going ahead to answer the question, let us first define illegal fishing. According to InforMEA, “illegal fishing” is a fishing activity performed by national or overseas fishing vessels in maritime waters. While the fishing exercise is carried out under the jurisdiction of a State, it often happens without the State’s permission.

Furthermore, according to World Wildlife, one of the illegal activities on the ocean is breaking fishing laws and regulations.

That said, to answer the burning question of whether it’s legal to fish in the ocean, we’ll say it depends. As far as the national or foreign fishing vessels adhere to all the laws and regulations governing ocean fishing in the state, it’s legal to fish in an ocean.

Fishing in an ocean will become illegal when a national or foreign fishing vessel fails to follow the laid down rules and regulations of a particular state. Of course, that also includes not purchasing a saltwater license – if it’s one of the requirements for ocean fishing in the location.

Illegal ocean fishing methods

There are several other different illegal methods of fishing in the ocean. One of them is bottom trawling, a fishing technique that involves dragging heavily weighted nets across the seafloor during the fishing process.

The method causes much damage, such as compressing the seafloor areas where fish gets food and shelter. Furthermore, bottom trawling tends to stir up sediments during the fishing process; sadly, that can be poisonous to aquatic creatures. 

According to Bloom Association, the Pacific Fishery Management Council, not long ago, placed a permanent ban on bottom trawling in the waters covering more than 40,000 km2 off the southern coast of the United States. With that, it means it’s illegal to fish in the area, performing bottom trawling.

Apart from bottom trawling, another illegal fishing method is Bycatch, a fishing technique that leads to the incidental capture of non-target fish species.

Since Bycatch can deplete the fish population in the sea, many states in the US have put aside laws to reduce it. That said, you need to adhere to the rules and regulations to avoid being flagged as fishing illegally in the ocean.

Blast fishing, which involves using dynamite or other types of explosives to blast and catch fish in the ocean, has been around for a long time. However, the fishing technique is tagged illegal as it poses death threats to the neighboring species of the target fish. That’s not all; fish bombing can also destroy coral reefs, which could take years to restructure.

Another illegal fishing method on the ocean is ghost fishing, which involves deliberately or unintentionally leaving fishing equipment in a water body.

Bottom line, fishing in the ocean could be termed illegal if you fail to purchase a saltwater fishing license when necessary. That’s not all; the activity is also illegal if you perform any fishing methods listed above and a few others, depending on your location.

Do You Need A Fishing License For The Ocean?

Do You Need A Fishing License For The Ocean

Saltwater fishing is a general term for any fishing method on the ocean. They include pier fishing, surf fishing, backwater and flats fishing, bay fishing, deep-sea fishing, and many more. In many countries, anglers don’t need a fishing license to fish in the sea. However, the situation isn’t always the same for every location.

For instance, in some states in the US, you need to apply for a saltwater fishing license before going on a fishing trip to the ocean. Fortunately, that might not be the case for some other areas, like California. That said, let’s take the states one by one and see whether a saltwater license is crucial for ocean fishing.

Do you need a license to fish in the ocean in Florida?

In Florida, you surely need a saltwater fishing license to fish in the ocean. Of course, that is very true if you’re a non-resident of the state and are 16 years of age or older.

However, you don’t need a Florida saltwater fishing license and permits to fish in the ocean if you’re planning to fish from a for-hire vessel that has a valid charter license. That’s not all! A saltwater license is also not required if you’re considering using a boat whose operator has a valid recreational saltwater vessel license issued in his/her name.

Furthermore, in Florida, there are free saltwater fishing days. They are usually on the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June, the first Saturday in September, and every Saturday following Thanksgiving. During this period, you certainly don’t need a license to go fishing in the ocean.

You can always purchase a Florida Saltwater fishing license online at Go Outdoors Florida or in person at the following places:

Do you need a license to fish in the ocean in Oregon?

Are you planning to go on an ocean fishing trip in Oregon? If yes, you need to understand that you might need to apply for a fishing license before embarking on the journey. Of course, that’s very true, especially if you’re 12 years or older in the state.

An Oregon angling license is essential to fish in the ocean and land different species. Furthermore, you might also need to apply for a shellfish license if that’s one marine invertebrate species is one of your targets.

Are you interested in landing fish species, such as salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Pacific halibut, and scallop? If yes, you might also need to apply for additional permits before going ahead to start fishing.

The easiest way to purchase a fishing license is through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s online system. However, you can also buy it in person at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offices or any license-issuing agent locations close to you. You can also purchase the license via fax and mail.

Do you need a license to fish in the ocean in South Carolina?

To answer this question, we’ll say it depends on where you’re planning to fish. As we now know, saltwater fishing is divided into different parts, including surf fishing, pier fishing, deep-sea fishing, and a few others. That said, you need a license to fish in the ocean in South Carolina, but not in all cases.

For instance, a South Carolina saltwater license is unnecessary if you’re considering fishing from a pier beach. However, that’s not the case if you’re interested in surf fishing, as you need a fishing license in the state.

Are you interested in harvesting marine creatures, such as finfish, oysters, clams, shrimp, and crabs? A yes means you’ll need to apply for a saltwater fishing license. To do that, you’ll need to be 16 years and older.

However, you don’t need a license to fish in an ocean in South Carolina if:

  • You’re using a public fishing pier, as earlier stated.
  • You are fishing on a licensed charter vessel, which is currently under hire.
  • You’re using three or fewer pieces of fishing equipment (drop nets, fold-up traps, hand lines with no hooks, etc.)

Do you need a license to fish in the ocean in North Carolina?

The simple answer is yes; you certainly need a saltwater license to fish in North Carolina. However, you’ll have to be 16 years and older to be eligible for the fishing permits.

You can always purchase the license in person at the state’s designated offices or online.

California ocean fishing regulation

Are you interested in getting familiar with the ocean fishing regulations in California? If yes, the best and most reliable place to get the information is here

You can also check here to get more information regarding the state’s 2021-2022 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations.

Do You Need A License To Fish In International Waters?

To answer this question, we’ll say it depends on a few factors, such as the water location and the type of fish you’re looking to target.

In case you don’t know, International waters are high seas not controlled by the state government of a country. There are various laws and regulations guiding fishing activities in international waters. However, they are usually complex and confusing.

According to NOAA, before planning to go on a trip to international waters to fish, you surely need to apply for a license. Instead, you can opt for U.S. vessels, which operate on the high seas and possess a fishing permit issued according to Section 104 of the 1994 High Seas Fishing Compliance Act.