Maine’s New Saltwater Fishing Rules

Striped Bass, courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maine has a new set of regulations for those who wish to fish the state’s coastal and estuarine waters, from boat or from shore, and they are confusing at best. Here’s how it breaks down for residents and non-residents. Good luck, as trying to decipher the new rules is nearly enough to deter anyone from wetting a line in “Vacationland”. The new online saltwater registry and licensing system is scheduled to be operational on January 19.

  1. As of January 1, 2011, Maine residents or non-residents who wish to fish recreationally in saltwater must register with the state. A general $1 to $2 service fee will be charged.
  2. Maine residents who purchase a freshwater fishing license will have the option of checking a box indicating that they intend to fish in saltwater and for striped bass without having to pay an additional fee.
  3. Maine residents who do not purchase a Maine freshwater fishing license and who wish to fish for striped bass must purchase a Striped Bass Endorsement for $5. This applies to all anglers who intentionally target striped bass, including those who intend to release their catch.
  4. Non-residents who wish to fish for striped bass or other anadromous species must purchase a Striped Bass Endorsement for $15 on top of the general registration fee. If they do not intent to pursue striped bass, they must still register with the state. It is not clear whether non-resident holders of Maine freshwater licenses will be able to check a special “marine waters” or “anadromous species” box on their permit and thereby avoid having to purchase a separate saltwater license.
  5. Residents 70 years or older can buy a Striped Bass Endorsement for a one-time fee of $10, which they may annually renew free of charge.
  6. Operators of commercial saltwater recreational fishing businesses (including head boats, charter boats and smelt camps) can purchase a Commercial Operator’s License for $50.
  7. Members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Penobscot Nation, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, or the Aroostook Band of Micmacs may register to fish for striped bass without a fee.
  8. All revenues collected through the sale of Striped Bass Endorsements and Commercial Operators Licenses will be deposited in the Marine Recreational Fishing Conservation and Management Fund for the implementation, administration and enforcement of the saltwater recreational fishing registry.

Exemptions: The following individuals are exempt from providing information to the saltwater registry:

  • Individuals under the age of 16.
  • Passengers onboard a vessel whose captain holds a commercial operators permit.
  • Persons renting a smelt shack from an individual who holds a commercial operators permit.
  • A person with a disability.
  • A disabled veteran.
  • A person with a valid New Hampshire saltwater recreational fishing license, fishing up to Cape Neddick.
  • A Maine resident fishing on July 4, Memorial Day weekend, or Labor Day weekend

Note that an agent fee of either $1 or $2 will apply, depending on where an individual registers (online, at an appointed agent, or through DMR licensing).

For more information on Maine’s fishing regulations:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources

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