Selling Fish from a Sport Boat?

Question: If I have a commercial ocean fishing license and I go out on a sport boat, am I allowed to sell my catch should there be someone who would want to buy it?

Answer: NO! This is not allowed under any circumstances and here are some of the main reasons why you cannot sell fish caught on a sport fishing boat:

1. Commercial fishing may be done only on a vessel officially licensed as a commercial fishing boat that is authorized for this activity.
2. The law mandates that commercial fishing and sport fishing must be done independently. Sport fishing and commercial fishing may not be done on a boat simultaneously, even between different fishermen.
3. Even if you hold a commercial fishing license, in order for you to legally fish on that sport boat, you must also hold a valid sport fishing license and be fishing only under the regulations that govern sport fishing. Any fish taken under a sport fishing license may not be bought, sold, traded or bartered. A commercial fishing license will not entitle you to sell any fish taken while you were recreationally fishing.
4. Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessels (a.k.a. CPFVs or party boats) are licensed as “commercial” vessels to take passengers only. Their licenses designate that only sport fishing is allowed on the boats and that the boats may not be used for any commercial fishing purposes what-so-ever. Even the crew members of the CPFVs are not allowed to sell any fish taken on these trips.
5. Conversely, while no commercial fishing may take place on a sport fishing boat, commercial fishermen can sport fish from their commercially-licensed boats as long as they hold a valid sport fishing license and do so on a trip that is independent of any commercial fishing activity.
6. Finally, in order for you to sell any fish to the public that you legally catch under your commercial license, you must also have a fish retail license.

These laws are very clear on the books and there is no wiggle room anywhere here to allow for selling sport-caught fish.

Octopus Size Restrictions?
Question: Are there size and take restrictions on octopi? I can’t find any listing in 2008 regs book or via the Web.

Answer: Since octopus are not specifically mentioned in the sport fishing regulations, they fall under the general invertebrate regulations of Section 29.05(a): daily bag and possession limit is 35 octopuses (this is now the more widely recognized plural form of octopus). There is no minimum size limit and octopuses may only be taken by hook and line or by hand (see Section 29.10[a]).

Is it Legal to Shoot Horn Sharks with a Spear Gun?
Question: I read your column every week in WON. Thanks for doing it. My question is about horn sharks and I’m wondering if they legal for me to shoot with a spear gun? I was scuba diving recently and noticed quite a few 2-3 ft. horn sharks off Palos Verdes but I cannot find any regulations regarding seasons, size limits, etc. Do horn sharks have any special regulations? If so, can you provide the regulation information for me? Also, is these sharks good to eat and worth the effort to bring home? Thank you very much for your assistance and keep up the great work.

Answer: There are no seasons or minimum size limits on the recreational take of horn sharks; they fall under the general bag limit of no more than 10 fish of any one species.
If you’re planning on your next outing to shoot these sharks to bring them home to eat, you might want to first ask around to see if you find anyone else who has tried them and liked them. Though I’ve never tried horn shark personally, I’ve heard over the years that they aren’t too tasty. Although horn sharks are legal to take, a suggestion would be to shoot just one, take it home and give it a try. If you don’t like it, you’re not faced with the dilemma of a freezer-full of something you don’t want to eat. Remember, wasting fish is illegal and unethical.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at

One response to “Selling Fish from a Sport Boat?

  1. this blog is really awesome! I had so many questions about spearfishing and other fishing laws in California and her answers are clear and informative.

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