Licensing and permit requirements

It is important to understand fisheries operating under the Emerging Commercial Fishery Act (ECFA) are not permanent and can be closed if deemed necessary to protect and preserve the resource, in particular, or more broadly marine ecosystem habitat or health. It is essential that fishers support the efforts to collect the catch and biological data necessary to evaluate the sustainability of the hagfish fishery.

A commercial fisher is required to possess two documents: an Emerging Commercial Fishery License and a Hagfish Trial Pot Fishery Permit to fish for or deliver hagfish (220-360 WAC).

  • WAC 220-360-200 - Designation of the hagfish pot fishery as an emerging commercial fishery
  • WAC 220-360-210 - Emerging commercial fishery – Eligibility for trial fishery permits – Incidental catch

Emerging Commercial Fishery License

  • Step 1: Apply for License
    Licenses can be obtained by mail or same day, in person at the WDFW Licensing located at the Natural Resources Building, Olympia WA. For additional information about fishery license requirements in Washington, please contact the WDFW Licensing Division at 360-902-2464 or via e-mail at

Hagfish Trial Pot Fishery Permit

  • Step 2: Apply for Permit
    Complete and return the Application for Commercial Fishery License form to the WDFW Licensing located at the Natural Resources Building, Olympia WA.

    Permits are not available same day, in person. Permits may take up to 30 days to process. However, a permit will not be issued unless or until the Emerging Commercial Fishery License has been issued.

    For additional information about the hagfish trial fishery permit, or to speed up the permit processing please contact Donna Downs at 360-249-4628

Permit Conditions

The 2019 permit requirement are:

  1. This permit is valid only if the permit holder also holds a valid emerging commercial fishery license that has the above named vessel designated on the license.
  2. This permit is non-transferable and required aboard the vessel at all times while the vessel is engaged in the fishery, including the sale of catch.  The permit holder must provide the permit upon request by a state or federal Fishery Officer, or Fish and Wildlife (Department) employee.
  3. Conduct all fishing activity in accordance with the fishery regulations of WAC Chapter 220-360-E.  Nothing in this permit shall be construed to mean that the permit holder is exempt from compliance with any other valid law or regulation of any governmental agency.
  4. Complete a legible, accurate, and complete harvest log for all hagfish fishing activity before delivery commences and provide it to the Department upon request.  If Department personnel fail to collect logs from you, send logs, no later than the 10th day following the end of each calendar month, to Marine Fish Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA 98563.  The permit holder must maintain the log using the Hagfish Harvest Logbook provided by the Department.
  5. To facilitate data collection, Department personnel must be notified a minimum of 24 hours in advance of landing and provided the date and approximate time, and location of landing.  The contact is Donna Downs at (360) 589-6668.
  6. At the option of the Department, the permit holder must allow Department personnel on board the vessel to observe fishing operations and/or collect biological data on the catch.
  7. At the option of the Department, the permit holder must surrender a portion of the catch (e.g., 25 pounds) to the Department for biological sampling and research purposes.
  8. The permit holder must document all hagfish landed on commercial marine fish/shellfish receiving tickets, including hagfish caught offshore Oregon, quantities of hagfish too small to sell, and dead loss.  Dead loss may be assigned zero value.
  9. At-sea transfer or sale of hagfish is prohibited.
  10. Pot gear is the only fishing gear authorized for use under this permit.  Each pot must have one or more biodegradable escape exits of at least 9.5 square inches in opening constructed with 120-thread size or smaller of untreated cotton twine.  The maximum size of the entrance tunnel is 11 square inches.  Entrance tunnels may be of any shape.  All buoys will be marked with a pole and attached flag, an operating light, and a radar reflector.  The identification of the permit holder must be clearly marked on each buoy.  Display, on the buoy, the number of pots if a ground line with multiple pots is used.
  11. Each permit allows a maximum of 100 pots, fished either individually or on a common ground line.
  12. All gear must be fished deeper than 50-fathoms.
  13. This permit authorizes owners and/or operators of commercial hagfish fishing vessels to process hagfish at sea by freezing.
  14. A violation of this permit is punishable under RCW 77.15.750 (4) Unlawful use of a department permit — Penalty.
  15. This permit may be subject to revocation, and future permit requests may be denied by the Director for failure to abide by the conditions of the permit, for violation of other fishing regulations (RCW 77.15.690), or if such action is deemed to be in the best interests of the fisheries resources (WAC 220-360-040).  The revocation is subject to the permit holder's opportunity to contest such action pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (Chapter 34.05, RCW).
  16. The Director may modify the conditions of this permit at any time.  The Department will notify the permit holder of any modifications in writing.
  17. This permit expires on December 31, 2019.

For additional information about the hagfish trial fishery permit, please contact Donna Downs at 360.249.4628.