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Commercial Marketing or Processing of Seafood on Vessels

What Are the Options?

There are several options available for marketing and processing seafood.

  1. Become a permitted Seafood Processor.
  2. Have your catch custom-processed by a permitted Seafood Processor.
  3. Sell your catch directly off your vessel without processing.

Which Vessels Need a Seafood Processor Permit?

  • Persons who process seafood products to be sold as part of commerce and intended for human consumption.
  • Persons who store, clean, package, freeze, and distribute whole seafood products to be sold as part of commerce and intended for human consumption.

Which Vessels Do Not Need a Seafood Processor Permit?

  • If your catch is custom processed by a permited Seafood Processor.
  • The seafood is sold from the vessel at the harbor.
  • If there is onboard gutting, gilling, or bleeding of fish or heading of shrimp.

1. Become a Permitted Seafood Processor

Seafood Processors need an annual permit from DEC. Get the form online at the forms page of our website. A complete permit application will include:

  • Completed and signed application form - most important!
  • The appropriate permit fee for your processing activity.
  • A copy of the facility plans to include:
    • Equipment
    • Plumbing/water lines
    • Drinking water supply and treatment
    • Wastewater disposal
    • Solid waste disposal
    • Photos, if applicable
  • Optional - A product label and HACCP plan.

Direct Market Vessels (Vessels 65 Feet and Under)

You can butcher, freeze, or package your own catch of seafood onboard the vessel. You will need to get a Seafood Processor permit and follow these requirements:

  • Conduct a hazard analysis and develop a HACCP plan if hazards are identified.
  • Butcher only on fishing grounds - at least 1/2 nautical mile from shore.
  • Butcher, freeze, and package under sanitary conditions.
  • If you use chemicals or additives, there must be room onboard for their safe storage and use.
  • You must be able to clean and sanitize the processing area and deck.
  • The vessel needs a US Coast Guard (USCG) approved marine sanitation device or portable toilet, a handwash sink, soap, and hand towels.
  • Maintain wastewater discharge records for 2 years.
  • Disinfect, test, and protect processing water from contamination.
  • Manufacture, store, and transport ice in a sanitary manner.
  • Develop a written Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP)
  • Contact the USCG for any additional regulations that may apply.

2. Have Your Catch Custom Processed

You can have your catch processed at a permitted processing facility. View a list of permitted processors at our Active Permits page.

3. Sell Your Catch Without Processing

You can sell your catch off your vessel:

  • directly to a permitted processor - a list of permitted processors is at our Active Permits page;
  • to consumers off the vessel at the dock; or
  • to a retail market or food service establishment who has a written variance from the DEC and picks up your catch from the vessel.

For more information, visit our Seafood website.