Baitfish Permits

someone fishing from a boat

Baitfish permits allow the permit holder to catch certain species of baitfish within the Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs) where fishing is otherwise not allowed.

A valid baitfish permit allows the following activities to occur within all 18 SPAs. The allowable gear type and size are outlined in the table below by SPA location.

  • Throwing cast nets for the purpose of catching ballyhoo, balao, halfbeaks, and/or herring;
  • Using modified lampara nets for the purpose of catching ballyhoo, balao, halfbeaks, and/or herring;
  • Harvesting ballyhoo, balao, halfbeaks, and/or herring using cast nets and/or modified lampara nets; and
  • Discharging chumming materials or bait for the purpose of catching ballyhoo, balao, halfbeaks, and/or herring.

 

Sanctuary Preservation Area Gear Type and Size Allowed
  • Newfound Harbor
Cast nets which are no greater than 500 square feet in area (no greater than 12’7” radius)
  • Sand Key
  • Rock Key
  • Eastern Dry Rocks
  • Hen and Chickens
  • Cheeca Rocks
Cast nets and/or modified lampara nets which are no greater than 500 square feet in area
  • Looe Key
  • Sombrero Key
  • Coffins Patch
  • Alligator Reef
  • Davis Reef
  • Conch Reef
  • Molasses Reef
  • French Reef
  • Grecian Rocks
  • Dry Rocks
  • The Elbow
  • Carysfort Reef
Cast nets and/or modified lampara nets

 

Additional requirements of baitfish permits include:

  • All bycatch shall be immediately returned to the water alive.
  • Contact with or disturbance to the seabed is prohibited.
  • Catch of baitfish by hook and line is prohibited.

Baitfish permits are issued free of charge and last for one calendar year. Baitfish permits are issued to an individual and may be used on more than one vessel, but may not be used by more than one person. All other sanctuary regulations and applicable fisheries regulations still apply and must be followed.

No baitfishing activities are allowed within the Western Sambo Ecological Reserve, Tortugas Ecological Reserve, or the four Special-use Research Only Areas (Eastern Sambo, Looe Key (patch reef), Tennessee Reef, and Conch Reef).

All baitfish permit holders are required to maintain a catch log and submit this log within 30 days of the expiration date of the permit. Download the Baitfish Permit Log.

 

Apply for a Baitfish Permit

To request a baitfish permit, submit your name, mailing address, and telephone number to Joanne Delaney, Sanctuary Permit Coordinator, at joanne.delaney@noaa.gov. Boat name(s) and/or documentation number(s) should also be submitted, when known.