Time to get fishing permits in order – Delmarva Daily Times

It’s that time of the year again when I start getting my paperwork “ducks” in a row for the upcoming fishing season. Permits, permits, and more permits! Gosh, all I want to do is fish, but darn if there aren’t a lot of hoops to jump through before someone can even think about casting a line in the water these days!

So I started out by going online the National Marine Fisheries Service HMS Permits page and spent $20 to get my annual HMS Permit which will allow me to fish for billfish, tuna and sharks. A nice thing about getting this permit online is that as long as someone has had this permit before, they don’t have to re-type in all their boat and personal information into the renewal application. Just enter your current permit number, then your vessel’s documentation number, and the system will recognize who you are and what grade of license you had last year.

A few more clicks, some credit card info, and you can either print your own license or have it mailed to you. These permits are issued to the boat, not the individual angler, and since my permit was for a charter boat I get the “HMS Charter/Headboat Permit” while those with a private boat would chose the “HMS Angling Permit.” Taking me no more than 5-minutes to complete, the process was pretty painless and in no time I was printing my own 2017 permit.

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Next I went to renew my NMFS Dolphin/Wahoo Permit. I was prompted to do this after receiving in the mail a renewal application, which includes “five” pages of instruction and “eight” pages of application. For all the information they ask, you’d think someone was applying to build a nuclear bomb — not just to fish for dolphin and wahoo!

Thank goodness the NMFS Southeast Office finally set up a website that allows anglers to renew this permit online. Now most of the information they require (including your social security number) is already in the system, so even though you have to click through a lot of pages before you get to pay your $25 fee, at least you don’t have to run a pen dry scribbling on eight pages of paper. They also require that you mail, fax, or upload a current copy of your vessel’s registration or documentation paper which is a bit of a pain, as is the fact that you can’t just print your own permit — you have to wait for them to approve it, then they mail it to you. Private boat anglers should also be happy that this permit only applies to charter and headboats.

Another online renewal that was pretty simple was my membership in a random drug testing program which a crew member on a vessel that carries passengers for hire is required by the Coast Guard to be enrolled in. It took 10 minutes and $65 to take care of that requirement.

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I expect that soon I’ll be getting the renewal application for my “Greater Atlantic Federal Fishing Permit,” which allows me to fish for critters such as black sea bass, flounder, bluefish, spiny dogfish and other species not covered by the other two permits. Unless they change things I’ll have to do this one through the mail but there won’t be a fee for it and “only” 3-4 pages to fill out. This is another permit that’s unique to vessels carrying passengers for hire.

While I’d like to use this downtime to take care of all my annual permits and licenses, I’ll have to wait until August to renew my Maryland Guides License ($100) and Maryland Bay and Coastal Charter Boat License ($160) and pay my Seafood Marketing Surcharge ($20) because none of them expire or come due until Aug. 31. Please don’t ask me why Maryland has fishing licenses that expire in the middle of the fishing season — it doesn’t make sense to me either.

’m just hoping that when I get done acquiring all the licenses and permits I need to catch a fish this year that I have enough money leftover to buy a couple pieces of bait for my hook!

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