nd what legal operations can touch. I have, as many legal opeations
spent a lot of time and money to aquire what is required. There are many new requirements
that some operaters are simply not aware of, so here is a list of many of the required items
needed to run a charter fishing business or guide service by boat.
1)Captain. A USCG Licensed (Current) must be on board, and he/she MUST have a TWIC
card. In addition to this they need to have a current First Aid card, and be enrolled in a
random drug testing program.
2)The Boat. Reguardless of how small it may be, must be Commercially registered, and
carry gear according to USCG - UPV standards. Mamy more items are needed than a
recreational boat, including type 1 PFD's with lights and whistles, a life "ring", etc.,.
Onboard a Charter Boat must be the USCG required placecards, as well as a copy of the
Coast Pilot, Lights List, Tide Chart, and an Emergency Plan. Navagational Charts for the
waters operated, or Electronic Charts, on a seperate power source are also needed.
3)State Fishing License. Its state law that the operator have either a "Charter Boat" or
"Charter Captain" State Fishing License. This applies to Fishing Guides fishing from a
boat. It is not legal to require the guest to supply their own license.
4)Federal (NOAA) Permits. Any Charter operation fishing for any spesis regulated under the
National Marine Fisheries Divisions (Most Saltwater Fish),Must have these permits to even
offer "Catch and Release" charters, or to posess them, even when fishing in state waters.
There are several permits required, and if Dolphin or Wahoo is to be taken, besides the
Permit, an Operator card is required. The fines for operating without these start around a couple thousand dollars and go up. The list of Permit holders is online, and I have found many, including
some in Pinellas County advertising Charters offshore, without having Federal Permits.
Several gear requirements are also in place, including Turtle release gear, dehooking tools, etc.
5)Local and State licenses are required to operate a business, and aquire certain licenses.
The Gulf of Mexico has a limited number of Permits, so to aquire one, someone else must
go out of business. As a result of this many have chosen to forgo getting these Permits, and
choose to run without. This of coarse is neither legal, nor fair to those with them. A few advertise
regularry from the Clearwater area, as well as other parts of the state, that do not have these
If you operate a Charter, make sure you are legal. If you know someone that operates one, pass
this info to them, as you may save them a lot of money and hassle. If you are taking a Charter, by
all means ask to see the credentials, as they are required to be onboard for just that purpose.
Wile E. Coyote
ACME Ventures llc