Fishing license

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sign in the United Kingdom alerts people to the need for a fishing permit.

A fishing license (US), fishing licence (UK), or fishing permit is an administrative or legal mechanism employed by state and local governments to regulate fishing activities within their administrative areas. Licensing is one type of fisheries management commonly used in Western countries, and may be required for either commercial or recreational fishing.

Historical licensing[edit]

Chinese fishing license from the Qing-era, recorded in Baojiashu jiyao (保甲書輯要, 1838)

In 1765, the Chinese Qing dynasty government required all fishing boat operators to obtain a fishing license under the aojia system that regulated coastal populations. The Dan boat people of Guangdong had to acquire a fishing license as early as 1729. The wooden license issued by the government was to be displayed on the bow or stern of a boat. The information on the license consisted of the name and age of the boat's owner, the ship's status as either a fishing or commercial vessel, the home port of the boat, crew and family members on board, the date the license was issued, and the registration number of the license.[1]

Types by country[edit]

Depending on the jurisdiction, licenses or permits may be required by a government, a property owner, or both.

United Kingdom[edit]

The government requires a rod licence for anyone over the age of 12 who fishes in England, Wales or the Border Esk area in Scotland for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eels.[2] In addition, anyone who fishes in a non-estuarine stream, lake, or canal needs a permit from the owner of the fishing rights to the water body, which might be a local angling club, a landowner with riparian rights, or an organization such as the Canal & River Trust.[3]


In Ireland, rights to fish in non-tidal freshwater also are owned either by the government or by private entities such as angling club. The ownership of fishing rights in Ireland derives from the confiscation of lands by the British Crown in the 17th century; the boundaries of fishing rights areas typically follow the boundaries of estates granted by the Crown.[4]

United States[edit]

The U.S. state of Oregon instituted a requirement for commercial fishing licenses in 1899, the same year that the state's sturgeon fishery had collapsed due to over-harvesting. Oregon began requiring recreational fishing licenses in 1901.[5] Indiana began issuing hunting licenses in 1901 and added fishing privileges to its hunting license in 1913.[6] The state of Pennsylvania first issued recreational fishing licenses in 1919. Licenses were required only for nonresidents, and only 50 licenses were issued that first year. In 1922, when the state first required licenses for state residents, over 2,700 nonresident licenses and over 200,000 resident licenses were sold.[7]

License-free fishing[edit]

Some countries do not require a license for recreational sea fishing, provided that certain rules in regard to fish size, numbers, and total catch are followed.


Recreational fishing in the sea does not require a license in certain spots in Belgium. Size limits need to be followed. Also need to have a freshwater permit when fishing on certain seadocks[8]


Sea angling and spearfishing without diving equipment are allowed in Cyprus without needing a licence. Multiple species including seals, dolphins and turtles are however protected.[8]


Estonians have a life-long right to fish with one simple handline in waters owned by the state and local governments, provided that regulations about species, sizes and seasons are followed.[8]

New Zealand[edit]

No license is necessary for recreational sea fishing in New Zealand. There are many detailed regulations about fish species, size limits, fishing methods and prohibited areas.[9][10] But when fishing inland in creeks, rivers or lakes a fishing licence is needed.[11]


Sea fishing from the coast and from the boat is free for both residents and visitors in Norway, although there are minimum fish rules and other regulations.[12]


For fishing in Swedish public coastal waters (Baltic Sea and the west coast), no license is necessary. Foreign citizens are also allowed to fish in these waters without a license, but only with handheld gear. License-free fishing is legal along the sea coast (in many cases also on private land along the coast) and in Sweden's five largest lakes – Vänern, Vättern, Hjälmaren, Mälaren and Storsjön.[13][14][15] In the rest of the country, fishing without a license is not permitted and several thousand fishing areas exist, each with their individual fishing permits and local regulations. Fishing permits are available in most of Sweden's fresh waters, but not all.

United Kingdom[edit]

Fishing licence for sea fishing is not required in most of the places in the United Kingdom. For salmon and sea trout, game licence is required regardless of location.[16][17] In places where saltwater and freshwater cross over the regulations are complicated and licence may be required.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Antony, Robert J. (2010). Elusive Pirates, Pervasive Smugglers Violence and Clandestine Trade in the Greater China Seas. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9789888028115.
  2. ^ "Rod Fishing Licence - Frequently Asked Questions". UK: Environment Agency. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "FAQs about fishing at the Canal & River Trust". UK: Canal & River Trust. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  4. ^ "History of fishing rights in Ireland". Inland Fisheries Ireland. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  5. ^ "ODFW History, 1792 - 2000". Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "History of Fish & Wildlife". Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Pennsylvania Fishing License Sales, 1919 to Present". Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Pawson, M. G.; Tingley, D.; Padda, G; Glenn, H. (March 1, 2007). "EU contract FISH/2004/011 on "Sport Fisheries" (or Marine Recreational Fisheries) in the EU" (PDF). Prepared For The European Commission Directorate-General for Fisheries. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  9. ^ "New Zealand Saltwater Fly Fishing-Sea and saltwater fly fishing in New Zealand-nzfishing". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "FAQ's about New Zealand Fishing Holidays in the Bay of Islands with Blue Sea Charters". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "General Fishing Licence Info | Fish & Game New Zealand".
  12. ^ "Sea fishing". Official travel guide to Norway. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  13. ^ "Fishing rules & ecological angling | SwedenFishing". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  14. ^ "The Sea - Relax Fishing Sweden". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  15. ^ "Hunting and fishing". Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  16. ^ "Sea angling". Northern Ireland direct - government services. November 16, 2015. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  17. ^ "Buy a fishing rod licence - GOV.UK". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  18. ^ "Do I Need A Fishing Licence for Sea Fishing? |". August 7, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2016.