Section 17C. (a) The director shall establish a state recreational saltwater fishing permit program to comply with the state exemption requirements of section 401 (g)(2) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 USC 1881 (g)(2) and may promulgate regulations implementing the state program in accordance with sections 17 and 17A.
(b) No person shall engage in the recreational activity of finfishing, or take or land finfish for recreational purposes in or from the coastal waters of the commonwealth without first obtaining a saltwater recreational fishing permit from the director. The permit process shall require the applicant to submit, in addition to any other information required by the director, the applicant’s name, address, telephone number and date of birth. A permit shall not be required in the following circumstances:
(1) a non-resident holding a valid recreational saltwater fishing permit from a coastal state; provided, however, that the director shall determine that: the requirements of such other state permit are substantially the same as the commonwealth’s permit requirements; and the privileges granted under law to the resident of the other coastal state are similar to those permitted by the commonwealth;
(2) a person under 16 years of age;
(3) a disabled person, as defined in section 1 of chapter 19C; or
(4) a person fishing as a passenger on a for-hire vessel; provided, however, that the owner of the vessel has a valid permit from the director as provided in subsection (c).
(c) The director may issue a recreational saltwater fishing permit to an individual or a business entity that is engaged in for-hire recreational fishing in the coastal waters of the commonwealth, and such permit shall be valid for all persons on board the for-hire vessel. The director may establish categories and related requirements for such permits.
(d) The director may establish categories of recreational saltwater fishing permits, including, but not limited to, individual permits, age-related permits and for-hire permits, and may charge a separate annual fee for each category of permits. The amounts of such fees shall be established by the secretary of administration and finance under section 3B of chapter 7; provided, however, that the director or authorized agents may not charge a fee to individuals requesting a permit who, at the time of permit application, are 60 years of age or older or less than 16 years of age. The director shall develop a fee schedule for all classes of permits and submit such schedule to the clerks of the house of representatives and senate not less than 30 days before the schedule is to take effect.
(e) The director may authorize agents to sell recreational saltwater fishing permits issued under this section and authorize agents who are not employed by the commonwealth to charge and retain a reasonable service fee for such service.
(f) The director may designate not more than 2 days in each year as free recreational saltwater fishing days. A person may take saltwater finfish for noncommercial purposes on a free recreational saltwater fishing day without obtaining or possessing a permit or paying a permit fee as prescribed in this section; provided, however, that a person who takes saltwater finfish on a free recreational fishing day must comply with all laws, rules and regulations governing the holders of a recreational fishing permit and all other conditions and limitations regulating the taking of saltwater finfish.
(g) There shall be established within the division a marine recreational fisheries development panel. The panel shall advise the director on the development and administration of recreational saltwater fishing improvement programs, including, but not limited to, the improvement of public access to marine recreational fisheries. The panel shall consist of 2 members of the marine fisheries advisory commission and 3 members of the public at large, all of whom shall have specific expertise and background in the commonwealth’s marine recreational fisheries. The panel members shall be appointed by the commissioner for terms not to exceed 3 years. Any member shall be eligible for reappointment. The panel shall meet at least twice annually and shall also meet at the request of the director or the commissioner. Three of the members shall constitute a quorum and the affirmative vote of a majority of members present at a duly called meeting where a quorum is present shall be necessary for any action to be taken by the panel.