Fishing Orange Beach

How To Identify Legal Fishing Charters and Avoid The Illegal Ones?

Fishing charters docked at Large Commercial marina's are usually O.K. to go with because they are required by their lease agreement to be legitimate.  Many of the illegal charters we find, run out from lesser known marinas (marinas without charter offices), private docks and public boat launches.  Orange Beach for instance does not allow any charter to run from public boat launches.

You need to know is how to identify legitamate and legal charter operators, so you can avoid getting yourself in trouble with the game wardens or the U.S. Coast Guard.  

A legal fishing charter is one that has the following credentials, licenses and documents and has them on board the vessel:

  • A US Coast Guard Licensed Captain or Merchant Mariners Document On Board While Operating The Vessel
  • Must have a current US Coast Guard Physical card in their possession.
  • They can't operate more than 12 hours in a day without having a second captain.
  • They must have a current CPR, First Aid and AED Training.
  • They must be a current member of an Approved Random Alchohol and Drug Testing Program.
  • They must have appropriate State Commercial Fishing License.
  • They must have appropriate Federal Fishing Permits if fishing in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • Although its not a law, You would be best served if the captain had Commerical Charter Boat Insurance, not just a policy that protects the boat owner or lienholder in case of loss.  Many captains are running charters and don't have any insurance at all.

Before you book any fishing charter, you need to ask the captain or the person you are booking your trip with, DO YOU HAVE ALL OF THESE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS?  Don't assume that those big fishing super websites have proof from the captains listed on their websites that they are in compliance with these requirements.   If they don't have proof, you might need to re think your decision about booking with them.   Also, there is a loophole where some captains get their random drug testing certification and then cancel their memberships so they won't be called in for a random drug test.  Reputable and legal charters keep their drug consortium memberships current.

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