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Florida Saltwater Charter Reqirements

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The more I dig into this, the murker it becomes. Before I retired from the military I aquired my 6 PAC license in anticipation of doing a little charter fishing. Nothing big, just short trips of 9 NM or less in the Gulf of Mexico and a little scalloping and shelling. I have the Capt license ($1000 + or - a few $), know where to get the random drug testing set up (another $50 a yr) and can obtain the Florida comerical fishing license for those who are on my boat ($201.50 yr for 0-4 pass on my boat). Now I am finding out that I must registure my 18 ft Sundance as a commercial vessel ($50)and that I might need some kind of reef permit (state federal and supposedly not available? I can find no reference). All this to take four fishermen out no futher than 9 nautical miles for a mixed catch or take a family out to pick up a few scallops or just walk on the beach and collect shells!

Does anyone here know what is REALLY required for a small business like I want to operate? Heck, I can't find out who I am really dealing with, state or federal and all inclusive what is required. No good asking a game warden most of them don't even fully understand the recreational codes they try to enforce.

Thanks, in advance, Mike

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Wow, and I'll bet there are some commercial insurance requirements too, to dip further into your pocket. Is there a Captains', or Guides' Association you can talk to, or something similar to help cut all that red (and gray) tape? That might be another fee, but one actually worth it.

Dean, a former freshwater guide

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Good idea Dean. I'll see what I can dig up from that end. To confuse matters even more, I just talked (can't say communicated) to someone from the National Marine Fisheries Service and she said I had to have a reef permit (which is not available anymore) to charter in the Gulf. When I asked her if she met state or federal waters she could not answer and passed me on to someone else. I got their voice mail so I left a message. Itg is a shame when a government agency cannot even answer so simple a question.

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What is a shame is that it is fairly typical when dealing with both state and federal government and overlapping jurisdictions. Good luck!!

Dean

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Well, here is the scoop for those of you who might be leaning towards a charter business in Florida.

1. First you need a Captain's license from the USCG

2. Then you have to be enrolled in a random drug testing program

3. Your boat has to be registered in Florida and registered as a commercial vessel (this can be done at your courthouse)

4. You will need a "for hire fishing license" and that is priced depending on how many people you will have in your boat. Runs from $210.50 to over $800. (this also can be purchased at your courthouse)

5. Now the good part. if you wish to fish in both state waters (out to 9NM in Florida & Texas, 3 NM all other) and Federal waters, you will need a Reef Fish Permit and a License to fish for highly miagritory species. Neither of these permits/licenses are currently available from the feds. You can, however, get one buy purchasing one from someone who wishes to sell it to you. Latest quote I heard of for a reef permit was $25,000.

6. Although not a state or fed requirement, you will need to look into liabillity insurance for your crew and boat.

Figure about a thousand dollars a year for all this (this does not include aquiring your captain's license. That could cost another $1,500 not to mention the work experience required to qualify). Another point to consider is you cannot sell your catch. That is another altogether different spotted dog. You will need a commercial salt water products license for that!

I hope this helps a little. I have not made up my mind if I am going to go thru with all the requirements or not. I only fish out to the 9NM limit, so the fed requirements are not an issue.

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