Small Vessel Category Permit Information
A broad overview of the restrictions and requirements that apply to Small Vessel Category permits. The regulations summarized here may be found at 50 CFR Part 648. Please contact the Sustainable Fisheries Division at (978) 281-9315 for more information.
What is a Small Vessel Category permit?
A vessel eligible for a Category A Northeast Multispecies limited access days-at-sea permit may elect to instead apply for a Small Vessel Exemption (Category C) permit and fish under the Small Vessel Category, provided the vessel meets specific requirements.
What are the vessel size requirements for the Small Vessel Category?
The vessel must be 30 feet or less in length overall, as determined by measuring along a horizontal line drawn from a perpendicular raised from the outside of the most forward portion of the stem of the vessel to a perpendicular raised from the aftermost portion of the stern.
If construction of the vessel was begun after May 1, 1994, the vessel must be constructed such that the quotient of the length overall divided by the beam is not less than 2.5. For example, a 30 foot vessel can not have a beam of greater than 12 feet (30 feet divided by 12 feet = 2.5).
What are the gear requirements?
Dredge gear may not be used on a Small Vessel Category permitted vessel.
What closures apply to this permit?
- Small Vessel Category permitted vessels are required to take a mandatory spawning block out of the fishery and may not fish for, possess, or land regulated multispecies from March 1 through March 20 of each year.
- For more information about the closures that apply to Small Vessel Category vessels, please visit the Northeast Multispecies Closed Area Regulations page.
What are the reporting requirements?
- Vessels fishing in a single broad stock area (e.g., Gulf of Maine, Inshore Georges Bank) on a trip must declare the trip through the Interactive Voice Response system or through a vessel monitoring system unit.
- Vessels fishing in more than one broad stock area on a trip need to declare their trip through a vessel monitoring system unit. Vessels that declare their intent to fish inside and outside of the Gulf of Maine on the same trip are required to submit daily vessel monitoring system catch reports.
- You must submit a vessel trip report for all trips, even if it is not a groundfish trip (e.g., lobster).
- Vessel trip reports must be postmarked or received by the Tuesday following the reporting week (Sunday through Saturday). If a trip starts in one week and offloads in the next, then that trip may be reported during the week that the catch was offloaded.
- Operators may submit vessel trip reports electronically using approved electronic vessel trip report software.
- For more information about trip reporting, or to see a list of approved software, please visit the Vessel Trip Reporting in the Greater Atlantic Region page.
What are the possession limits?
Small Vessel Category vessels may retain up to 300 pounds of cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder, combined, and one Atlantic halibut per trip without being subject to days-at-sea restrictions, provided the vessel does not exceed the individual species possession restrictions for common pool days-at-sea vessels. We may adjust trip limits for these species mid-season; we will notify you of any adjustments if this occurs. Small Vessel Category vessels are also subject to the common pool days-at-sea possession limits for all other regulated species. For current groundfish possession limits, please see the Common Pool page.