Commercial Fishing & Research Permits

Commercial Fishing Permits

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region issues commercial fishing permits for coastal pelagic finfish south of Point Arena California; highly migratory species, including tuna and swordfish, in the Pacific Ocean; and groundfish in federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington (3-200 miles). United States albacore vessels may fish in Canadian waters provided they register under the United States - Canada Albacore Treaty.

NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office and Pacific Islands Regional Office issue separate permits for fisheries managed by their region. Some commercial vessels operating on the high seas and in different regions of the U.S. may need permits from more than one NOAA Fisheries' office.

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region does not issue recreational fishing permits. Individual state fish and wildlife agencies issue recreational fisheries permits and commercial fishing permits for salmon and crab.

For more information on commercial fishing permits, please call 206-526-4353 for groundfish; 562-980-4238 for coastal pelagic species; 562-980-4238 for highly migratory species; or 562-980-4238 for high seas fishing compliance.

Scientific Research Permits & Exempted Fishing Permits

NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region also issues scientific research permits for research activities that are not considered “fishing” under the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSA). These permits allow information to be gathered that benefits fisheries and the environment, are of limited duration, and are issued to entities conducting scientific research under an approved scientific research plan. Under the MSA, NOAA Fisheries may also issue exempted fishing permits to allow fishing activities that would otherwise be prohibited under federal regulations. These permits are issued for limited experimental purposes to support projects that could benefit the fisheries and the environment. 

For more information on scientific research permits, exempted fishing permits, and letters of acknowledgment, please call 206-526-6140 for groundfish; 562-980-4238 for coastal pelagic species; or 562-980-4198 for highly migratory species.