DEM photo: Sarah Petrarca

DEM announces new standard fishing license, reminds fishers that commercial marine licenses are up for renewal and most are due Feb. 28

With the Rhode Island General Assembly’s recent amendments to the state commercial fishing licensing law forming the basis for the changes, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today that it has converted several major categories of licenses – including what used to be known as commercial fishing licenses (CFL) and principal effort licenses (PEL) – into one new category, the standard fishing license (SFL).

The simplified SFL, with either limited or unlimited fishery sector endorsements, allows the same fishing access as the previous license and in some cases may provide more access than the previous license. An unlimited fishery endorsement allows access to all allowable species within the sector for which it is applicable (finfish, shellfish, or crustacean). A limited fishery endorsement allows access to a limited suite of species within the sector for which it is applicable. The limited list of species can be found here and here.

DEM has mailed license renewal notices to all 2,800 current individual license holders in its system. The renewal window runs from Jan. 1, 2023, to midnight on Feb. 28th, 2023, for the three categories with the most license holders: resident and nonresident SFL (ranging from $150 to $425 for RI residents and from $300 to $1,750 for nonresidents, depending on the number of endorsements), multipurpose ($450 for RI residents, not available to nonresidents), and shellfish over 65 (available at no fee to RI residents 65 and older, it allows participation in the quahaug fishery sector at basic harvest and gear levels).

Failure to renew licenses by Feb. 28, 2023, will result in the assessment of a $200 late fee if license holders opt to renew their marine licenses during the 60-day grace period that follows immediately for late renewals. It runs March 1 through April 29, 2023. Deadline dates and renewal grace periods do not extend the validity of expired licenses. It is unlawful to fish in 2023 without a valid 2023 license. The license year runs Jan. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023.

While DEM continues to scale up its licensing website, Rhode Island Outdoors (RIO), to include the functionality to handle nearly all of the agency’s outdoors licensing and permitting services, it is asking users to renew by mail or in person at the DEM Office of Boat Registration and Licensing located at 235 Promenade Street, Room 360,  Providence, RI, 02908 or call 401-222-6647. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM-3:30 PM. With a license renewal backlog anticipated because of the transition to the RIO system, DEM will extend a two-week renewal period – through close of business, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023 – for current license holders wishing to renew in order to fish starting January 1, 2023. During this two-week period, it will be permissible to fish with a valid 2022 license if your renewal has not been processed in time. DEM regrets any inconvenience.

Also, DEM will issue a limited number of SFLs in two fishery sectors: 12 new unlimited finfish endorsements and 30 new unlimited shellfish endorsements (RI residents only). As is the case with the license categories mentioned above, the application period will run Jan. 1-Feb. 28, 2023. Applications and guidance documents are posted on DEM’s website. License determinations will be finalized after the Feb. 28, 2023, deadline date. Successful license issuance will be based on criteria set forth in the commercial and recreational fishing license regulations.

As in past years, DEM will offer student shellfish licenses to any RI resident who is a full-time student and 23 or younger as of June 30, 2023. The fee for these licenses is $50 and current license holders have until June 30, 2023, to renew. There is no grace period or late-fee renewals for student shellfish license holders.

Licensed fishers are obligated to comply with possession limits for finfish as provided in the Division Marine Fisheries listserv, dedicated phone line at 401-423-1920, or webpage. Licensed shellfishers are obligated to comply with conditional closure areas as provided on DEM’s dedicated phone line at 401-222-2900. Also, all applicants who harvest shellfish must complete a 30-minute online tutorial, which is located here.





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