Fresh seafood is always very popular at farmers’ markets, but navigating the rules around what is required for licenses/permits can be confusing for market managers. This is because most food safety issues at farmers’ markets are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) and the Department of Health and Human Service (for food trucks). Fish, on the other hand, is regulated first and foremost by the Department of Marine Resources. The DMR is every bit as helpful and supportive as the DACF, but fisheries regulations are unfamiliar waters for farmers. We’ve pulled together some guidelines below, but don’t hesitate to call the DMR for further clarification.
Seafood vendors need to work with the Department of Marine Resources and the Departments of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. The DMR ensures that the fish was caught and processed properly, and the DACF makes sure it is handled safely at the point of sale. The DMR contact number is 207.624.6550
- Seafood being sold whole by the harvester does not require a license (the harvester/fisherman’s commercial license allows selling directly to consumers, but only the species specifically covered in that person’s commercial fishing license). The commercial license only covers the single person listed on the license. Anyone else selling seafood caught by that harvester must follow the rules below. A vendor selling fish at a farmers’ market under their commercial fishing license does not need to have a Mobile Vendor License from the DACF.
- Retailing seafood that was caught by someone else requires a Mobile Vendor License from the DACF AND a Retail Seafood License from the Department of Marine Resources. The license is $100 per site. (A vendor may retail fish from multiple harvesters under that Retail Seafood License, but must have a separate license for each site.) The Retail Seafood License includes reporting requirements.
- Retailing clams, oysters, mussels, quahogs, and scallops requires a Mobile Vendor License from the DACF AND extra training and an Enhanced Retail Seafood License from the Department of Marine Resources. The license is $200 per site.
- Vendors selling processed, packaged fish from a dealer require a Mobile Vendor License from the DACF, but do not need a Retail Seafood License.
- Lobster meat requires a Lobster Meat permit from the DMR, and requires a Commercial Food Processing License from the DACF.
- Anyone selling fish by the pound must have a scale licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Division of Weights and Measures.
- Learn more about other guidelines related to food sold at farmers’ markets by following the links on our “Keeping Your Market Legal” page.