Commercial Fishing License Buyback Programs

The department administers commercial fishing license buyback programs for the inshore shrimp, crab, and finfish fisheries.  Funds generated from a surcharge on these commercial licenses and on the Saltwater Fishing Stamp Endorsement are used for purchasing and retiring commercial crab, finfish, bait shrimp, and bay shrimp licenses. The goal of the program is to stabilize fishing effort and support healthy fisheries stock.

The inshore shrimp fishery limited entry and buyback program was established in 1996, followed by the crab and finfish programs in 2000 and 2001.  Although a moratorium for oyster and gulf shrimp licenses was established in 2005, there is no buyback program for these licenses.

The license buyback programs depend on voluntary participation by licensees.  Typically, there have been two shrimp license buyback rounds per year, two finfish rounds, and one crab round offered in the fall.  License holders are notified by mail of a buyback round opening and interested persons are invited to complete and submit an application at that time.  The application period for each round stays open for at least 45 days.

As of February 2012, $13.9 million has been spent to purchase and retire 2092 commercial bay and bait shrimp fishing boat licenses. This represents 65% of the original 3231 licenses grandfathered into the fishery in 1995.  Additionally, $1.7 million has been spent purchasing 52 commercial crab fisherman licenses and 236 commercial finfish fisherman licenses, retiring 18% and 42% of the respective fishery licenses.

If you are a commercial fisherman in one of these fisheries you may get more information on this program by contacting one of our Fishery Outreach Specialists:

Art Morris
Corpus Christi

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