Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable saltwater fishing adventure in New York? This comprehensive guide will equip you with everything you need to know about the state’s saltwater fishing regulations for 2024, ensuring a hassle-free and compliant experience on the water.

In a nutshell, this guide covers the essential requirements for saltwater fishing in New York, including the Recreational Marine Fishing Registration, license types and fees, permitted fishing activities, regulations on catch limits and seasons, and how your license fees contribute to conservation efforts. By the end, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the regulations with confidence and make the most of your angling pursuits.

Understanding New York’s Saltwater Fishing Requirements

To legally fish in New York’s marine waters, anglers aged 16 and older must obtain a Recreational Marine Fishing Registration. This no-cost permit is mandated by the National Saltwater Angler Registry Program and covers fishing from the shores of Long Island out to 200 nautical miles offshore, including the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island Sound, and the Hudson River up to the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.

The registration serves a crucial purpose: it enables the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to collect data on fishing activity, which informs the management of fisheries, quotas, size limits, and seasons. By registering, you contribute to the sustainable use of New York’s marine resources and ensure the state receives a fair share of harvest quotas.

Obtaining Your Saltwater Fishing Registration

Obtaining your Recreational Marine Fishing Registration is a straightforward process with multiple convenient options:

  1. Online: Visit the DEC’s website or the official DECALS website to register.
  2. By Phone: Call 1-866-933-2257 to register over the phone.
  3. In-Person: Visit a licensed issuing agent, such as a town clerk, bait and tackle shop, sporting goods store, or a DEC regional office.

When registering online or by phone, you’ll receive a confirmation number that serves as proof of registration until your physical card arrives in the mail.

Types of Saltwater Fishing Licenses and Permits

While the Recreational Marine Fishing Registration is free for New York residents and visitors, the state offers various other fishing licenses and permits for different needs and activities:

Freshwater Fishing Licenses

If you plan to fish in New York’s inland waters, such as lakes, rivers, and streams, you’ll need a freshwater fishing license. These licenses come in different durations, including annual, 7-day, and 1-day options, with varying fees for residents and non-residents.

Combination Licenses

For avid anglers who enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing, New York offers combination licenses that cover both. These licenses can be purchased annually or as lifetime licenses, providing convenience and cost-effectiveness in the long run.

Commercial Fishing Licenses

If you’re interested in fishing for commercial purposes, you’ll need to obtain a commercial fishing license from the DEC. These licenses are subject to specific requirements and regulations, ensuring sustainable practices in the industry.

Specialized Licenses and Permits

Depending on your fishing activities, you may need additional licenses or permits. For example, if you plan to harvest lobsters, you’ll need a Recreational Lobster Permit, which is only available to New York residents.

Fishing Regulations: Catch Limits, Seasons, and More

New York’s saltwater fishing regulations are designed to manage fish populations and ensure the sustainability of the state’s marine resources. These regulations cover various aspects, including:

Catch Limits

Catch limits specify the maximum number of fish you can legally possess during a fishing trip. These limits vary by species and may change periodically based on population assessments.

Size Limits

Size limits dictate the minimum or maximum size of fish that can be legally harvested. These regulations help protect juvenile and spawning fish, ensuring the long-term health of the fishery.


Fishing seasons define the specific times of the year when certain species can be legally targeted. These regulations are in place to protect fish during spawning periods or when populations are particularly vulnerable.

It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations by visiting the DEC’s website or calling (631) 444-0430 before heading out on your fishing trip.

Permitted Fishing Activities and Locations

With your Recreational Marine Fishing Registration, you can engage in various fishing activities and access different locations within New York’s marine waters:

  • Fishing from shore or by boat: You can fish from the shoreline, piers, jetties, or by boat in bays, harbors, sounds, creeks, and offshore waters.
  • Targeting inshore and offshore species: Your registration allows you to target a wide range of inshore and offshore fish species, including striped bass, fluke, sea bass, and more.
  • Year-round fishing opportunities: New York’s marine waters offer fishing opportunities throughout the year, with peak action typically occurring in spring through fall.

It’s important to note that while your registration covers saltwater fishing, you may need additional permits or licenses for specific activities, such as harvesting lobsters or engaging in commercial fishing.

The Impact of Your License Fees: Supporting Conservation Efforts

When you purchase a fishing license or register for saltwater fishing in New York, a portion of your fees goes directly towards supporting conservation initiatives and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the state’s marine resources.

Your license fees contribute to various efforts, including:

  1. Fisheries Management: Funds are allocated to conduct research, surveys, and assessments to monitor fish populations and inform management decisions.
  2. Habitat Restoration and Protection: License fees support projects aimed at restoring and protecting critical fish habitats, such as wetlands, estuaries, and spawning grounds.
  3. Public Access Improvements: Funds are used to maintain and enhance public access points, boat ramps, and fishing piers, ensuring anglers can enjoy the state’s waters.
  4. Education and Outreach: A portion of the fees goes towards educational programs and outreach initiatives that promote responsible fishing practices and conservation awareness.

By complying with New York’s saltwater fishing regulations and obtaining the necessary licenses and registrations, you are directly contributing to the long-term sustainability of the state’s marine resources and ensuring future generations can enjoy the same fishing opportunities.

Do I need a separate license for freshwater fishing?

Yes, if you plan to fish in New York’s inland waters, such as lakes, rivers, and streams, you’ll need to obtain a separate freshwater fishing license. The Recreational Marine Fishing Registration only covers saltwater fishing in the state’s marine and coastal district waters.

Can I fish from a charter or party boat without a license?

No license or registration is required if you’re fishing on a licensed charter or party boat in New York’s marine waters. However, the boat operator must have the necessary permits and licenses.

Are there any free fishing days in New York?

Yes, New York offers several free fishing days throughout the year when no license is required for freshwater fishing. These dates typically include the last full weekends of June and September, as well as Veterans Day and Presidents’ Day weekends. However, all other fishing regulations remain in effect during these free fishing days.

How can I stay updated on regulation changes?

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regularly updates fishing regulations based on population assessments and management needs. You can stay informed by visiting the DEC’s website or calling (631) 444-0430 before your fishing trips.

Can I use my New York fishing license in neighboring states?

No, your New York fishing license or registration is only valid within the state’s waters. If you plan to fish in neighboring states or provinces, you’ll need to obtain the appropriate licenses or permits required by those jurisdictions.

By understanding and adhering to New York’s saltwater fishing regulations, you can enjoy a rewarding and responsible angling experience while contributing to the long-term sustainability of the state’s marine resources. Remember, your license fees play a crucial role in supporting conservation efforts, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy the rich fishing opportunities New York has to offer.

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