Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maine's New Saltwater Registry Offers Reciprocity And Is Free

Below is the "new" Maine saltwater fishing registry that went into effect July 11, 2011. Basically a free system with reciprocity.

1. Why is the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) creating a registry of saltwater recreational anglers?

In 2007, the US Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. In the reauthorization, they included a requirement that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) develop a comprehensive list of everyone who fishes recreationally in marine waters. This is necessary to improve the surveys of saltwater anglers, which generate the information used to help manage and rebuild fish stocks. Congress gave the states the option to either develop their own registry system, or have their citizens be subject to federal registry requirements. In 2010, the Maine Legislature passed a Maine saltwater registry, thereby exempting Maine from the federal requirement. The registry is administered by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and goes into effect January 1, 2011.

2. What "marine waters" are included, for the purposes of requiring registration for saltwater angling?

If you will be fishing anywhere within the rise and fall of the tide (up the rivers to head of tide), or from a Maine port out to the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 miles), you must have a valid saltwater fishing registration.

3. Who needs to register? How much does it cost?

A Maine saltwater recreational fishing registration is required for individuals 16 years of age and older fishing in Maine's coastal waters. However, individuals that possess a valid Maine freshwater fishing license are not required to register separately with the Maine Department of Marine Resources. When purchasing their Maine freshwater fishing license, individuals will be asked, "Did you fish in the tidal waters of the State of Maine last year?" By answering this question, they will meet the basic registry requirement. Freshwater license holders must possess their license when they are engaging in saltwater fishing, to prove compliance. There is no cost for the registration, for either residents or nonresidents. However, a $1 agent fee applies if you register directly through ME DMR or if you register online.

4. Where can I register?

You can register online at, OR in person at the DMR licensing office in Hallowell (directions:

5. Why do you need my phone number?

The purpose of creating a Registry of saltwater recreational fishermen is so that these anglers can be accurately surveyed by phone, to assess their level of activity. The Registry will make it much more efficient to find anglers to survey, and it will include a broader representation of anglers. Instead of asking a random sample of coastal U.S. residents if they've gone fishing (which is what is currently done), the registry will allow surveyors to call upon those who have already identified themselves as saltwater fishermen. The surveys collect information about who is fishing, when they fish, and what species and how many fish they catch. For some species of fish, the recreational catch far outpaces the commercial harvest. In addition, in many communities, recreational fishing is a major economic driver, affecting everything from the hospitality industry to fuel sales to outfitters and small businesses. Accurately capturing the many contributions of recreational fishermen will help to ensure that these interests are properly considered in resource allocation and other policy matters.

6. Are there any exceptions to the registration requirement?

You do not need to register in order to participate in saltwater fishing in the following situations: 1. When fishing as a passenger on a party/charter or head boat operated by an individual who holds a valid Recreational Operator's license. 2. When fishing for smelt from a smelt camp rented from an individual who holds a valid Recreational Operator's license. 3. When fishing with a registered guide who possesses a current guide license and valid Recreational Operator's license. 4. When fishing from a dock, pier, or wharf that is owned by an individual who possesses a valid Recreational Operator's license.

7. Are there any free fishing days?

Yes. Maine residents need not register in order to fish legally on July 4th, Labor Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend.

8. Is there any reciprocity for other states?

Yes. Maine residents who are registered on the Maine registry may fish in New Hampshire without separately registering on the New Hampshire registry. Any person that possesses a valid saltwater recreational fishing license from any state that has been designated as an exempted state by NOAA may engage in recreational saltwater fishing in Maine without registering with ME DMR. Finally, any person registered on the National Saltwater Angler Registry through NOAA may engage in recreational saltwater fishing in Maine without registering with ME DMR. NOAA exempted states include ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, DE, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX, CA, OR, WA, AK.

9. What if I hold a lifetime freshwater fishing license from IFW?

If you are a Maine resident who holds a lifetime freshwater fishing license, you will still need to annually register with DMR. This is because Maine must be able to provide the information regarding which anglers are participating in saltwater fishing to the federal government on an annual basis, in order to meet the federal requirements. The registration is valid for the calendar year.

Questions about this Service? Contact agency at: (207) 624-6550 or Email: