Commercial Saltwater Licenses - Introduction
Before commercially harvesting or selling any marine fish or other saltwater products in Florida, you must be eligible for and comply with the license requirements described on this page.
A saltwater product is defined as any marine fish, shellfish, clam, invertebrate, sponge, jellyfish, coral, crustacean, lobster, crab, shrimp, snail, marine plant, echinoderm, sea star, brittle star or urchin, etc.; except non-living shells and salted, cured, canned or smoked seafood.
Saltwater Products License (SPL)
You must have an SPL in order to do any of the following:
- Sell, barter or exchange for merchandise any saltwater products;
- Harvest over the recreational bag limit;
- Harvest over 100 pounds or 2 saltwater fish per person per day (whichever is greater) for species that do not have an established bag limit; or
- Use certain gear or equipment as specified by law.
You must have the SPL to commercially harvest and sell saltwater products, and you may sell only to a licensed Florida wholesale dealer. If you are commercially harvesting from a vessel it must be registered as a commercial vessel.
The license may be issued to an individual applicant or a valid vessel commercial registration number. A company must be registered with FL Dept. of State, Division of Corporations prior to applying for a license.
Restricted Species Endorsement (RS)
The RS is required for those wishing to exceed the recreational bag limit and/or sell those species designated as a "restricted species."
To qualify for and renew the RS, you must provide acceptable proof that a specified amount or percentage of your total annual income (usually $5,000 or 25 percent) during one of the past three years is attributable to reported landings and sales of non-restricted saltwater products to a Florida wholesale dealer.
Read more information about qualifying for the RS.
Additional endorsements are required for those wishing to commercially harvest/sell blue crab, spiny lobster (crawfish), stone crab, sponges and species designated as ornamental marine life; to use a purse seine; and to simultaneously possess a gill net and pompano harvested from federal waters while in transit across state waters in the Cape Sable/Hurricane Pass area. For additional information, view the Commercial Fishing Regulations.
NOTE: The following endorsements must be renewed by the end of business on September 30 each year or will revert back to the state:
- Blue Crab - VH/VS,
- Marine Life (MLD, MLB MLN), and
- Commercial (spiny lobster) Dive CD#
License holders can pay their license fees online or mail them in. If the application is mailed, it must be postmarked by September 30. If it is postmarked on or after October 1, the endorsement will be lost.
A Lampara Net Endorsement is required for the directed harvest of ballyhoo with a Lampara net by individuals who also hold the SPL and Purse Seine Endorsement (PS). Only those individuals who apply and qualify for the endorsement may renew. Ballyhoo may be harvested within the established daily vessel limit as an incidental catch under the PS endorsement. To requalify a Lampara Net endorsement, the endorsement holder must document landings of at least 10,000 pounds of ballyhoo, or 55,000 individual ballyhoo, per lampara net endorsement in any one of the three most recent license years. Once requalified, the endorsement will be valid for three license years, but must still be renewed annually.
Trap Certificates and Tags
These are required for those wishing to commercially harvest spiny lobster, blue crab and stone crab with traps. The FWC assesses certificate fees and ships tags.
Read more information about buying and selling certificates and tags.
Commercial Dive Permit (CD#)
This permit is required to commercially dive for lobster. Eligibility for the dive permit was based on reported commercial dive landings in 2001-02 and 2002-03. The permit will not be issued to fishermen with trap certificates. No new dive permits will be available.
Read more information about the commercial dive permit (CD#).
Other licenses are required for shrimping in Tampa Bay and the St. Johns River, and using chemicals to collect Marine Life.
Wholesale and retail dealers
A Wholesale Saltwater Products Dealer License (WD) is required to sell saltwater products to any customer except the consumer and to buy from persons holding an SPL or another licensed wholesale dealer in the counties specified on the license. Wholesale dealers must report purchases to the Commission when products are landed or sold for the first time.
A Retail Saltwater Products Dealer License (RC) is required to sell any saltwater products to the end consumer. A retail dealer may purchase only from a wholesale dealer. The RC is not required when products are prepared for consumption or take-out under a license issued by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.
Wholesale and retail dealers who produce their own products under an SPL must also report those landings to the FWC. Landings under an RC may not be used to qualify for the RS. Reporting requirements for dealers are found in Ch. 68-E, F.A.C.
Transporting or importing saltwater products
A person transporting saltwater products in this state - regardless of destination - must maintain possession of invoices, bills of lading or other similar instruments showing the number of packages, boxes or containers and the number of pounds of each species and the name, physical address and the Florida wholesale dealer number of the dealer of origin.
To import and sell saltwater products (including aquaria, fish, shrimp, crabs, etc.) you will need a Saltwater Products Wholesale Dealers license. A Saltwater Products Retail Dealers license is required to sell to the consumer. Application forms and fee information can be found on the Commercial Saltwater Products - Fishing & Dealers Licenses page.