Frequently Asked Questions - N.H. Saltwater Recreational Fishing License

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striper angler

Q. Who needs the license?
A. All persons age 16 and older recreationally fishing in coastal and estuarine waters of the state must purchase a N.H. Saltwater Recreational Fishing License. This includes anglers, spearfishers and persons using other gear types who wish to take, possess, or transport marine finfish for personal use and which are not sold.

Q.  How much does the license cost?
A.  The license costs $11 (includes $1 agent fee) for individuals.

Q: Where can I buy the license?
A. You can purchase your license online anytime at fishnh.com or visit one of our friendly local license agents statewide.

Q: Where can I fish with the license?
A: Your N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License allows you to fish in N.H. coastal and estuarine waters, all Massachusetts coastal and estuarine waters, as well as the entire Maine coast!

Q: As a N.H. Resident, can I buy a Massachusetts or Maine saltwater license and fish here in New Hampshire?
A: No. By State law, N.H. residents cannot fish in New Hampshire using a Massachusetts saltwater license or Maine saltwater license, registry or endorsement. N.H. residents must have a New Hampshire Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to fish coastal or estuarine waters in New Hampshire. 

Q: What are "estuarine waters"?
A:  "Coastal and estuarine waters" means all waters within the rise and fall of the tide, and water below any fishway or dam which is normally the dividing line between tide water and fresh water. For example, anglers will need a N.H. Saltwater Recreational Fishing License to fish below the dam on the Lamprey River in Newmarket.  Above the dam, they would need a N.H. Freshwater Fishing License.  

Q.  Do anglers age 68 and older have to pay for their N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License? 
A:  Yes. All anglers age 16 and older must pay for a N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to fish recreationally in the coastal and estuarine waters of the state. 

Q: Why do senior anglers need a saltwater license, when they can get free freshwater fishing licenses in N.H.?
A: In order to qualify for the exemption from the National Saltwater Angler Registry, we need to provide specific current information each year about all saltwater recreational fishermen 16+ years of age.  If we gave people a free license at age 68, as we do for the freshwater license, the information would be unusable if they moved or changed phone numbers. Given that the cost of the license is relatively low compared to many fishing and hunting licenses, plus the fact that the seniors would still need to get a license every year, the decision was made to make the price the same for all anglers age 16 and older – both residents and non-residents.

Q.  I hold a Lifetime Freshwater Fishing License, will this cover me when I fish in saltwater as well?
A.  If you purchased a Lifetime Fishing License prior to 2011, you may obtain a free permit each year limited to fishing for saltwater smelt, American shad, trout and salmon in coastal and estuarine waters. The permit must be applied for each year at the N.H. Fish and Game Department office in Concord, N.H. (Find a print and mail application here.) NOTE: If you fish for any species other than saltwater smelt, American shad, trout and salmon, you must hold a paid N.H Recreational Saltwater Fishing License.  Please note that a Lifetime License is different than the "over 68" freshwater fishing license.

Q.  I take a chartered fishing trip every summer, will I need to buy a license to fish on a charter boat?
A.  No. There is a separate license for charter and party boats. You will be exempt from holding a N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License as long as you are fishing on a licensed charter or party boat.

Q.  Do I still need to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry to fish in federal waters?
A.  No. To fish in federal waters, you need a valid state saltwater fishing license or a federal permit that exempts you from the National Saltwater Angler Registry.  However, if you have a recreational federal permit such as the HMS Angling category permit, you still need the N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to take, possess, or transport your recreationally caught species through New Hampshire state waters.

Q.  I will be traveling and want to fish in other states; do I need to purchase a license from each state I fish in?
A.  Yes. The exception is that if you hold a N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License, you may legally fish in all coastal and estuarine waters of Massachusetts and Maine. If you are visiting another state, you will have to purchase their saltwater license.

Q.  I am a N.H. resident, but I fish for stripers out of Kittery, Maine.  Do I need to buy a license from both Maine and New Hampshire? 
A.  No. Your N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License allows you to fish in N.H., Maine and Massachusetts coastal and estuarine waters.

Q: Why is New Hampshire's license fee higher than similar licenses in Massachusetts and Maine?
A:  The difference is in how our states are funded.  In both Maine and Massachusetts, state marine fisheries agencies get state general fund monies to run their programs. New Hampshire is different in that our programs are paid for primarily by license fees.

Q.  Do I still need to purchase a freshwater license to fish for smelt through the ice of Great Bay?
A.  No. You are only required to purchase the N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License.

Q.  I am a licensed lobsterman and I occasionally spend a little time angling for bluefish, stripers, or other fish while I am out pulling my traps. Do I need the N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License to keep these fish?
A.  Yes.  If you are fishing for finfish in coastal and estuarine waters you will need a recreational saltwater fishing license take, possess, or transport finfish for personal use and which are not sold.  However, if you plan to sell any of the finfish, you would need a Commercial Saltwater License.  Your lobster license only provides the opportunity to fish for and harvest lobsters and crab. 

Q:  Can I dip-net river herring from a river without a saltwater license if I have a Harvest Permit?
A:  If your catch is for personal use, you need both a Harvest Permit and a N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License; if you plan to sell the catch, you need a Commercial Saltwater License.

Q: Can I fish in saltwater in New Hampshire without a license on Free Fishing Day?
A:  Yes.  On New Hampshire's designated Free Fishing Day (the first Saturday in June), both residents and nonresidents can fish inland, coastal or estuarine waters in New Hampshire without a fishing license.  One exception: anglers fishing for brood stock Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack and lower Pemigewasset rivers must have a fishing license and a special permit. Note that season dates, bag limits and all other fishing regulations must be followed on Free Fishing Day.

Q: What are the license fees used for?
A: Recreational saltwater fishing license fees go into the Fish and Game fund, as other license revenue does, providing the largest source of funding for the Department's work managing and conserving New Hampshire's fish, wildlife and marine resources. If the saltwater license had not been implemented, New Hampshire anglers would have been required to pay a similar fee to the National Angler Registry and the funds would have gone directly to the federal government.

Q: Why was the new license put in place?
A: Since January 2010, recreational anglers who fish in federal waters have been required to register each year with NOAA Fisheries. Registration is also required for those who may catch anadromous species such as salmon, striped bass, smelt and shad that spawn in rivers and streams and spend their adult lives in estuaries and the ocean. Required by the reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act, the National Angler Registry is key to closing a major gap in information on recreational saltwater fishing. It also helps NOAA demonstrate the economic value of saltwater recreational fishing on local and national economies. Registration was free for the first year but was $15 for 2011. NOAA allowed states to exempt anglers from federal registration if they have a program in place to account for all of its saltwater anglers. Through legislation passed in 2009, New Hampshire met this requirement by establishing a recreational saltwater fishing license effective January 1, 2011.  The new state license ensures that fees paid by New Hampshire anglers stay in the state to help manage fish and wildlife.

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