Applications for new fishing licenses due Feb. 28

Johnston Sun Rise ·

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is accepting applications for new and renewed commercial fishing licenses through Wednesday, February 28.

A limited number of new commercial fishing licenses will be made available this year; 33 new quahog and 15 new soft shell clam endorsements will be issued on the Commercial Fishing License (CFL) and 18 new restricted finfish endorsements will be issued on the Principal Effort License (PEL).

The new quahog endorsements are for residents only and will allow for the commercial harvest of quahogs; the new soft shell clam endorsements are for residents only and will allow for the commercial harvest of soft shell clams; and the new restricted finfish endorsements, available to both residents and non-residents, will allow for the commercial harvest of any of the five species of restricted finfish: summer flounder, scup, striped bass, black sea bass and tautog.

Applications for the new endorsements must be filed with DEM by Feb. 28, 2018. The applications will be reviewed, and the new endorsements awarded, according to the priority selection process set forth in the Commercial and Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licensing Regulations. 

Rhode Island residents may also obtain, without limits or restrictions, new CFLs with the following endorsements: shellfish other, non-restricted finfish, and non-lobster crustacean. Also, any resident aged 65 or older may obtain a 65 & Over Shellfish License, and any resident who is a full-time student and under the age of 23 as of June 30 of the license year may obtain a Student Shellfish License; both licenses allow for the commercial harvest of quahogs. 

Any non-resident may also obtain a new commercial license with a non-restricted finfish endorsement. Applications for all new licenses must be filed with DEM by Feb. 28, 2018. Interested applicants are encouraged to review all guidance documents and applications posted on

Fishers are reminded that the marine license year runs from Jan. 1, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2018. The renewal period runs from January 1 through February 28, 2018 for Multi-Purpose License holders, PEL holders, CFL holders and Shellfish Over-65 License holders. Student Shellfish License holders may renew or obtain a new license through June 30, 3018. A late fee renewal period for certain license holders – Shellfish Over-65, Multi-Purpose, PEL and CFL holders – runs from March 1 through April 29, 2018 and includes a $200 late fee in addition to the cost of the license. Renewals are not available after April 29, 2018.

Licenses may be renewed online through April 29 via DEM’s website. License holders are reminded that prior to license renewal, all log books must be up-to-date with DEM's Marine Fisheries Program located at 3 Fort Wetherill Road in Jamestown. For questions concerning the log books, please call the Marine Fisheries office at 423-1926. DEM's Boat Registration and Licensing Office will not accept log books.

New for 2018, DEM has launched an education and certification program that is mandatory for everyone who commercially harvests and lands shellfish in RI. The goal of the program is to ensure that shellfish harvesters deliver a safe product to shellfish dealers and, in turn, to shellfish consumers. In accordance with U.S. FDA requirements, and new regulations adopted by DEM, holders of all applicable commercial licenses and landing permits for 2018 must obtain certification via the new program.

The certification requirement applies to:

All holders of commercial shellfish licenses, i.e., PELs and CFLs with quahog, soft-shell clam, and/or shellfish-other endorsements; 

Over 65 Shellfish Licenses, and Student Shellfish Licenses;

All holders of Multi-Purpose Licenses who harvest shellfish; 

All holders of landing permits who land shellfish

The certification requirement applies to both license/permit renewals and new licenses/permits, beginning this year. All certificates are valid for five years, after which re-certification will be required. All harvesters of shellfish must obtain certification by April 6, 2018. Any applicable license/permit holder who fails to become certified by this date will be notified regarding the deficiency. Failure to comply by April 6, 2018 may result in license/permit suspension. Applicants must complete a 30-minute online tutorial, which is available on DEM’s website.

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