DMR is reminding lobstermen who plan to fish in 2020, especially those that fish in federal waters as this boat, shown in this 2011 photograph in Southwest Harbor, was licensed to do, to start thinking about renewing their commercial lobster fishing licenses. FILE PHOTO

DMR renewing licenses online

AUGUSTA — Thanksgiving is this week and that means the new year is looming on the horizon.

With the approach of 2020, the Department of Marine Resources is reminding Maine commercial fishermen that they have to renew their fishing licenses and that they can, if they wish, do it online.

According to the DMR website, fishermen whose landings reports are up to date can renew their licenses and pay the renewal fees electronically. Tardy landings reports also may be filed online at

Holders of lobster licenses who were among the 10 percent of Maine lobstermen required to report landings should be sure their reports are filed. They must also have either a current Maine registration or federal vessel document for the boat they fish, Either they or a family member who has a commercial lobster license may be the vessel owner.

Special rules apply for lobstermen who fish in federal waters outside the three-mile limit.

Lobstermen who no longer have a federal permit on their license could still get trap tags that show, incorrectly, that they may be used in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Fishermen must contact DMR’s licensing division directly during the renewal process if their federal permit has changed or they no longer have one.

To buy EEZ tags, the lobsterman’s federal permit must be up to date or the tags will be ordered as non-federal tags and it will be the fisherman’s responsibility to pay the cost to replace them with appropriate tags. DMR orders tags the day after a license is purchased, so the department must be properly advised.

It requires a minimum of four to six weeks to fill orders for trap tags, so fishermen need to plan ahead for next year’s season.

For early birds who enjoy spring fishing, this year’s trap tags remain valid until next June 1. Lobstermen who want to use their new 2020 tags before that date have to file a written request with DMR.

If you plan to use your 2020 tags prior to June 1, you must submit an affidavit requesting to use the current year tag. Contact the Marine Patrol or Licensing for that affidavit.

There have been a few changes in the lobster license law. For one, Class 3 license holders will be allowed to have four unlicensed crew members on board, up from three.

There’s licensing news for both scallop and urchin fishermen too.

The owner-operator requirement for the scallop and urchin fisheries adopted by the Legislature in 2017 will be in full effect for the 2020 licensing year. As a result, the “grandfathering” provision that allowed harvesters to list a vessel used during the 2017 fishing season that not owned either by them or a family member has expired.

With just two exceptions, holders of a scallop or urchin drag license must own the vessel listed on their license.

The rule does not apply if the license holder listed that vessel on their 2017 license, had landings each year since 2017, the vessel is owned by a family member and the vessel has not changed since 2017 or the license holder lists a vessel owned by a family member who holds the same type of dragging license. A vessel may only be listed on one urchin license at a time.

Help and detailed information about online license renewals is available by calling 624-6550 (option 2), but DMR will not renew any licenses by telephone.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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