The U.S. Virgin Islands hosts a diverse commercial fishery. “Commercial” means the taking of marine life for profit or gain, or as a means of livelihood, when the marine life is taken in or outside of the territory, and when the marine life is sold, offered for sale, landed, or transported for sale anywhere in the territory. The USVI has approximately 300 licensed commercial fishers in the Territory.
Commercial fishers in the USVI are required by law to hold a valid commercial fishing license issued by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Every commercial fishing licensee shall furnish to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources – Division of Fish and Wildlife a monthly catch report with respect to marine life taken and any bait used. Catch reports are required whether or not fishing occurred. If you did not fish during the month, a “Did Not Fish” report must be submitted.
Licenses must be renewed annually in order for commercial fishers to remain active. In October 2021, a limited entry license program for hook and line fishing was created to allow entry for fishers who were not able to commercially fish during the 20-year moratorium. Sixty-six (66) commercial fishing licenses were granted for the 2022-2023 fishing year.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis but must be submitted by May 1st to be considered for the following fishing year. Fishing licenses may also be transferred between family members or Fisher Helpers. Commercial fishing helpers are required to hold a commercial helper’s permit issued by the Department of Environmental Enforcement.
To apply for a USVI Commercial Fishing License click here to begin the process.
To help facilitate the timely processing of your application, please ensure to include the following items when submitting your packet:
Copy of Government Issued ID
Letter of Intent
Fishing Awareness Assessment/Knowledge Quiz
Copy of Helper’s Permit and Fisher Letter of Recommendation (If Applicable)
Current Business License (for any business you may have)
Previous Commercial Catch Compliance Letter
Commercial Fishing License in another state
Commercial Fisher License Transfer Application
The Division of Fish and Wildlife monitors the commercial fishery, collects data, and liaises with commercial fishers under the Fisheries Cooperative Statistics Program (CSP), funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA Fisheries).
Our knowledgeable team of Fisheries Biologists and Port Samplers monitors the health of fishery resources in the U.S. Virgin Islands using commercial catch reports (CCRs) submitted by licensed fishers. These forms collect information about fishing activity and all information is maintained in a confidential database. Accurate data is essential to fisheries management. Inaccurate or incomplete CCRs provide misleading data that may generate undue concern over a fishery resource. CCRs must reach DFW within two weeks after every fishing trip or within two weeks after the close of the month if no fishing took place. CCRs must be submitted in person or dropped in one of the drop boxes around each island. Current locations of the drop boxes are: