New Saltwater License For NH Anglers

In New Hampshire, as of January 1, 2011, a N.H. Saltwater Recreational Fishing License is required for all persons age 16 and older fishing in coastal and estuarine waters of the state. This includes anglers, spearfishers and persons using other gear types to take, possess, or transport marine finfish for personal use and which are not sold.

Licenses are available now wherever freshwater fishing and hunting licenses are sold, or online at The license costs $16 (of which $1 is an agent fee) for both residents and nonresidents. Saltwater anglers no longer have to sign up with the National Angler Registry after January 1; the saltwater license replaces this requirement. Anglers fishing from a state-licensed charter or party boat do not need to purchase a saltwater license to fish from those boats, but do need them when they are fishing from shore or on a private boat.

The license includes some reciprocity -- if you hold a N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License, you may legally fish in Maine up to Cape Neddick and in all coastal and estuarine waters of Massachusetts, whether from shore or on a boat. 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 here.

The new license allows New Hampshire to meet requirements set by federal law, while providing that the angler's dollars stay in the state of New Hampshire instead of going to the federal government. Through the Magnuson Stevens Reauthorization Act of 2006, Congress created a National Saltwater Angler Registry, an important tool that enables the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to better estimate the health of marine fisheries so that more effective regulations can be established to preserve recreational fishing for the anglers, fishing businesses, coastal communities and millions of Americans whose lives and livelihoods are connected to saltwater fishing. NOAA's Fisheries Service was authorized to charge a fee for the annual registration beginning in 2011, but states would be exempt if they set up a recreational saltwater license. Some 22 of the nation's 24 coastal states, including New Hampshire, now have saltwater angler licenses in place.

In 2009, the New Hampshire State Legislature enacted the law that provides for a New Hampshire saltwater recreational fishing license beginning January 1, 2011, with the revenue to go to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department for fisheries and wildlife management in our state. Among other responsibilities, the N.H. Fish and Game Department works in partnership with NOAA and other states to manage commercial and recreational harvest of fish.

New Hampshire anglers cannot register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry in 2011 to avoid purchasing the N.H. Recreational Saltwater Fishing License. You are required to buy the license to recreationally fish in coastal and estuarine waters of the state. This is true in all other states with saltwater licenses.

New Hampshire saltwater fishing regulations are summarized in the 2011 N.H. Saltwater Fishing Digest, available at license agents or online at

For more background, see our Frequently Asked Questions about New Hampshire's new Recreational Saltwater Fishing License at

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