TITLE 20
Fish and Wildlife

CHAPTER 20-2.1
Commercial Fishing Licenses

SECTION 20-2.1-5


§ 20-2.1-5 Resident licenses.

The director shall establish, as a minimum, the following types of licenses set forth in this section. In addition, the director may establish any other classes and types of licenses and endorsements, consistent with the provisions of this chapter and with adopted management plans, that may be necessary to accomplish the purposes of this chapter:

(1) Types of licenses.

(i) Commercial fishing license. Rhode Island residents shall be eligible to obtain a commercial fishing license; the license shall allow the holder to engage in commercial fishing in fisheries sectors, per endorsement at basic harvest and gear levels. The annual fee for a commercial fishing license shall be fifty dollars ($50.00) and twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for each endorsement at the basic harvest and gear levels.

(ii) Principal effort license. Duly licensed persons, in a fishery as of December 31 of the immediately preceding year, shall be eligible to obtain a principal effort license for the fishery sector for which they were licensed on December 31 of the immediately preceding year, which principal effort license shall allow its holder to fish in a fishery sector at the full harvest and gear levels. The annual fee for a principal effort license shall be one hundred fifty dollars ($150). Principal effort license holders, in addition to the fishery sector of their principal effort, shall be eligible to obtain endorsements for the other fishery sectors at the full harvest and gear levels, if and when those endorsements are made available; the annual fee for each other fishery sector endorsement shall be seventy-five dollars ($75.00). Principal effort license holders shall also be eligible to obtain a commercial fishing license with endorsements, except for fisheries in which the license holder can fish at the full harvest and gear levels.

(iii) Multi-purpose license. All multi-purpose license holders as of December 31 of the immediately preceding year, shall be eligible to obtain a multi-purpose license that shall allow the holder to engage in commercial fishing in all fisheries sectors at the full harvest and gear levels. At the time of application for a multi-purpose license and each annual renewal of it, the applicant shall make a non-binding declaration of which fishing sectors the applicant intends to place significant fishing effort during the period covered by the license. The annual fee for multi-purpose license shall be three hundred dollars ($300).

(iv) Special licenses.

(A) Student shellfish license. A resident twenty-three (23) years or younger shall pay fifty dollars ($50.00) for a student commercial license to take shellfish upon provision of proof of full-time student status. An individual qualified to obtain a license must submit an application to the department of environmental management no later than June 30 of each year; a license application shall be deemed valid if submitted to the department prior to the close of regular office hours on June 30 or if postmarked by June 30.

(B) Over sixty-five (65) shellfish license. A resident sixty-five (65) years of age and over shall be eligible for a shellfish license to shellfish commercially and there shall be no fee for this license.

(2) Vessel declaration and fees; gear endorsement and fees.

(i) Vessel declaration and fee. (A) The department shall require the owner and/or the operator of a commercial fishing vessel to declare the vessel on the owner/operator's commercial fishing license. The declaration shall be made at the time of initial license issuance and each renewal, or prior to the vessel being used for commercial fishing by the owner and/or operator if the first usage of the vessel for commercial fishing occurs during the course of a year after the license has been issued or renewed. If the declaration is for a vessel of less than twenty-five feet (25') in length, the declaration shall be transferable to another vessel less than twenty-five feet (25') in length, provided the vessel is identified as commercial fishing vessel while it is being used for commercial fishing by displaying a plate as provided in § 20-2.1-4.

(B) The annual fee for each vessel declaration shall be twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for the first twenty-five feet (25') or under, plus fifty cents ($0.50) per foot for each whole foot over twenty-five feet (25'); this declaration fee shall entitle the holder to a decal. The holder of a valid decal for a vessel twenty-five feet (25') in length or under may obtain a plate from the department for display on a vessel twenty-five feet (25') in length that is being used temporarily for commercial fishing; the annual fee for a plate shall be fifteen dollars ($15.00).

(ii) Gear endorsements and fees.

(A) Shellfish dredging endorsement. A resident of this state who holds a multipurpose license and/or an appropriate shellfish license is also eligible to apply for a shellfish dredging endorsement to take quahogs, mussels, and surf clams by dredges hauled by powerboat. The annual fee shall be twenty dollars ($20.00).

(B) Fish trap endorsements. A person who holds a multi-purpose license and/or a principal-effort license for finfish is also eligible to apply for a fish trap endorsement in accordance with the permitting provisions in chapter 5 of this title. The fee shall be twenty dollars ($20.00) per trap location for a three-year (3) period. Applicants who possessed a valid fish trap endorsement as of the immediately preceding year may obtain a fish trap endorsement for the immediately following year, subject to the same terms and conditions in effect as the immediately preceding year. New fish trap endorsement opportunities shall be established by the department by rule, pursuant to applicable management plans and the provisions in chapter 5 of this title.

(C) Gill net endorsements. A person who holds a multi-purpose license and/or a principal effort license for finfish is also eligible to apply for a commercial gill net endorsement in accordance with the provisions of this section. The annual fee for a commercial gill net endorsement is twenty dollars ($20.00). Applicants who possessed a gill net endorsement as of the immediately preceding year may obtain a gill net endorsement for the immediately following year. New gill net endorsement opportunities shall be established by the department by rule, pursuant to applicable management plans.

(D) Miscellaneous gear endorsements. The department may establish by rule any specific gear endorsements that may be necessary or appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this chapter and facilitate participation in a specific fishery with a specific type of gear; the fee for such a gear endorsement shall not be greater than two hundred dollars ($200), but may be a lesser amount. This endorsement shall be issued only in a manner consistent with the general requirements of this chapter, including specifically those governing residency.

(3) New licenses.

(i) Eligibility. For new principal-effort and multi-purpose licenses, priority shall be given to applicants who have held a lower level of license for two (2) years or more, with preference to family members and crew members of a license holder who is retiring his or her license.

(ii) Priority or preference applicants. A new license shall be granted to priority/preference applicants who have acquired vessel and or gear from a license holder who has retired a license, provided, that as the result of any such transaction, for each license retired not more than one new license may be granted, nor may the nominal effort, including the total number of licenses, in a fishery subject effort or catch restrictions be increased.

(iii) Availability of new or additional licenses. New principal effort and multi-purpose licenses that increase the total number of licenses in the fishery may be made available by rule consistent with management plan for issuance effective January 1, in any year, based on status of resource and economic condition of fishery. Priority for new licenses shall be given to Rhode Island residents.

(4) Retirement of licenses. Issuance of license shall not be deemed to create a property right such that the license can be sold or transferred by license holder; fishing licenses shall be surrendered to the state upon their non-renewal, forfeiture, or revocation.

(5) Transfer for hardship. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 20-2.1-4(c), a license may be transferred to a family member upon the incapacity or death of the license holder who has actively participated in commercial fishing. The transfer shall be effective upon its registration with the department. A family member shall be defined as the spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, child, or grandchild of the transferor. The department shall make available, as necessary, operator permits to provide solely for the continued operation of a fishing vessel upon the illness, incapacity, or death of a license holder who has actively participated in commercial fishing, which operator permits shall be subject at a minimum to the conditions and restrictions that applied to the license holder.

(6) Transfer of vessels and gear. Vessels and gear may be sold, transferred, or disposed at the sole discretion of the owner; provided, however, that the subsequent level of use of the gear may be restricted in Rhode Island waters in order to accomplish the purposes of a duly adopted management plan or other duly adopted program to reduce effort.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2002, ch. 47, § 4; P.L. 2004, ch. 8, § 3; P.L. 2004, ch. 16, § 3; P.L. 2015, ch. 177, § 1; P.L. 2015, ch. 199, § 1.)