Permits and Licenses: Don’t Leave the Dock Without Them!

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A few years ago there was a high profile incident on the East Coast where a blue marlin possibly worth six figures was disqualified from a tournament because one of the crew members did not possess the correct state fishing license, as required in the tournament rules. Please don’t let this happen to you! Here are a few tips.

First, designate your team captain and have that person verify that all licenses and permits are in hand well before the tournament begins. Each angler needs a valid Florida fishing license. This should also include the captain and mate(s) since you never know who may be tasked with reeling in a prize-winning blue marlin. The vessel will also need a Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service in order to legally possess any marlin or tuna.

In the ECBC’s Tournament Rules, number three states: “Registered boats and anglers are expected to comply with all Federal and Florida state laws regarding fishing licenses, size limits, bag limits and any other regulations that may apply.” Have your team captain ensure that every member of the team is properly licensed and that the boat HMS permit is also valid for the year.

For information regarding Florida Saltwater Fishing Licenses, visit or call 850-488-4676. For information regarding the federal HMS permits, refer to or call 888-872-8862 for automated renewal.

Sam White

About the Author:

Sam White is Senior Editor of Marlin magazine and an avid tournament angler.