North Pacific License Limitation Program (LLP)

Groundfish, Scallop and Crab LLP Licenses

The License Limitation Program (LLP) is for commercial groundfish fisheries within the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and the Bering Sea and Aleutians Islands Area (BSAI), commercial crab fisheries in the BSAI, and commercial scallop fisheries in the BSAI and GOA. All LLP vessels were used to participate in the groundfish or crab fisheries during qualified periods for the groundfish and crab LLP specified at §679.4(k) and in the scallop fisheries during the qualifying periods for the scallop LLP specified at §679.4(g).

Groundfish LLP License Requirement

As of January 1, 2000 a Federal LLP license is required for vessels participating in directed fishing for LLP groundfish species in the GOA or BSAI, or fishing in any BSAI LLP crab fisheries. A vessel must be named on an LLP license that is onboard the vessel. Exceptions are explained below. The LLP is authorized in Federal regulations at 50 CFR 679.4(k), definitions relevant to the program are at 679.2, and prohibitions are at 679.7.

The LLP license requirement is in addition to all other permits or licenses required by federal regulations. The LLP is a Federal program and LLP licenses are not required for participation in fisheries that occur in the waters of the State of Alaska.

There are four exceptions to the LLP license requirement:

  1. vessels that do not exceed 26 feet in Length Overall (LOA) in the GOA;
  2. vessels that do not exceed 32 feet LOA in the BSAI;
  3. vessels that do not exceed 60 feet LOA and that are using jig gear (but no more than 5 jig machines, one line per machine, and 15 hooks per line) are exempt from the LLP requirements in the BSAI; and,
  4. certain vessels constructed for, and used exclusively in, Community Development Quota fisheries.

Description of LLP Groundfish Fisheries

License Limitation groundfish means "target species and the 'other species' category, specified annually pursuant to 679.20(a)(2), except that demersal shelf rockfish east of 140° W. longitude and sablefish managed under the IFQ program are not considered license limitation groundfish. The LLP does not apply to Pacific halibut or ling cod, which are not considered groundfish under the Federal Fishery Management Plans.

This Federal program is not applicable in waters of the State of Alaska.

Description of LLP Groundfish Endorsement Areas

Groundfish licenses are issued with area endorsements: Bering Sea (BS), Aleutian Islands (AI), West Gulf (WG), Central Gulf (CG), and Southeast Gulf (SE). The LLP area CG is different from the usual reporting and management area/subarea because it includes the West Yakutat district in addition to the entire CG area.

Pacific Cod Endorsement

BSAI: Beginning January 1, 2003 persons who wish to participate in the directed fishery for Pacific cod in the BS and/or AI with pot or hook-and-line gear must have a gear- and operation-type specific Pacific cod endorsement on the LLP license that names their vessel. Pacific cod endorsements are not required for trawl gear or jig gear; for these gears, licenses only need a trawl or nontrawl gear endorsement, respectively; and the appropriate operation type, and area endorsement(s). Note that even with endorsements, an LLP licenseholder may participate in the Pacific cod directed fishery only in the subareas (BS and/or AI) for which their LLP license is endorsed. These Pacific cod endorsements were added to existing LLP licenses based on historical vessel participation under eligibility tests in the final rule’s implementing regulations (67 FR 18129, April 15, 2002).

  • Exceptions to the BSAI Pacific cod endorsement requirement at (50 CFR 679.4(k)(9)(iv));:
    • Any vessel exempted from the LLP program
    • Any catcher vessel less than 60 feet length overall (LOA)
    • Any catch of Pacific cod for personal use bait


GOA: Beginning April 21, 2011 persons who wish to participate in the directed fishery for Pacific cod in the West or Central GOA with non-trawl gear must have a gear- and operation-type specific Pacific cod endorsement on the LLP license that names their vessel. Pacific cod endorsements are not required for the Eastern GOA, for trawl gear, or, for jig gear in situations listed below. For these exempted gears and situations, licenses only need have the appropriate area, gear, and operation type endorsements. These Pacific cod endorsements were added to existing LLP licenses based on historical vessel participation under eligibility tests in the final rule's implementing regulations (76 FR 15826, March 22, 2011).

  • Exceptions to the West and Central GOA Pacific cod endorsement requirement (at 50 CFR 679.4(k)(10)(iv)): Any vessel exempted from the License Limitation Program at paragraph (k)(2) of this section.

Description of LLP Crab Endorsement Fisheries

Pursuant to implementation of the BSAI Crab Rationalization Program, in September 2005 all crab LLP licenses were revised to reflect fisheries remaining under governance of the LLP program. The LLP program was modified on April 26, 2016 to reflect changes to the species list under federal management. The crab endorsement fisheries are: Aleutian Islands opilio, Norton Sound red and blue king crab, and “minor species” including Bering Sea golden king crab. For the latest crab management information, contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dutch Harbor by email or by phone at (907) 581-1219.

Exemptions to Groundfish and Crab LLP License Requirements

Vessel Restrictions

A license based on the fishing history of a vessel not named on a Federal Fisheries Permit from January 1, 1988 through October 8, 1998 may be used only on the original qualifying vessel. And, any transferable LLP license derived from an American Fisheries Act (AFA) vessel is transferable for use only on another AFA vessel.


“Sideboards” are restrictions placed on vessels and/or LLP licenses to prevent “spillover” effects from potential increases in effort when management programs free up vessels from participation in other fisheries. These include the AFA, crab rationalization, rockfish pilot program, and Amendment 80, all of which authorize vessel cooperatives.

Program Changes

In addition to the amendments already implemented, others may be recommended by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council). For additional information on potential LLP changes under consideration, contact the Council. You can also find final and proposed rules and other notices on the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office regulation summary page.

License Transfers

Permanent LLP licenses are transferable from the holder to another person, and/or for use on a different vessel. Transfer applications are available online and from the Restricted Access Management Program: (907) 586-7474 (option #2) or (800) 304-4846 (option #2). To be effective, an application for the transfer of a license must be submitted to and approved by NMFS. A summary of transfer rules follows:

  • Licenses may only be transferred to U.S. citizens or businesses;
  • Unless they are initially issued, no person may hold more than ten (10) groundfish licenses or five (5) crab licenses at any one time;
  • An LLP license may be voluntarily transferred only once per calendar year;
  • An LLP license may be transferred for use on a vessel of length overall no greater than the maximum length overall of the license;
  • Licenses may transfer by "operation of law" (foreclosure, inheritance, court order, etc.); such transfers (which may or may not include a vessel) will not be considered a "voluntary transfer" for purposes of allowable transfers in a calendar year;
  • Endorsements on licenses are not severable from the license; and,
  • A person who receives both a groundfish license and a crab license derived from the qualifying history of one vessel may not transfer one without transferring both to the same recipient.

Licenses Issued and Sideboard Lists

  1. Under current regulations, vessels must be designated on the licenses. Identities of original qualifying vessels are provided for reference only.
  2. Licenses do not expire but may be superseded by another license issued by RAM.
  3. Most "Interim" nontransferable licenses result from applicant eligibility claims; RAM reissues LLPs as necessary following due process procedures, including adjudication of appeals.
  4. A small number of groundfish licenses may be used only on the original qualifying vessel whose activities gave rise to the license (or, with NMFS' approval, on a replacement vessel if the original qualifying vessel is lost or destroyed). The groundfish license lists indicate those restricted licenses.
  5. These lists represent vessels and LLP licenses subject to sideboards; a vessel may not be named on a Federal Fisheries Permit and an LLP may not be currently assigned to a vessel at any given time.

NMFS is not a lien recordation agency and does not perform title or lien searches. As a public service to foster commerce, RAM accepts voluntary assertions of interest against limited access permits. On receipt of a transfer application for a permit that has such an assertion, RAM will make a courtesy notification to the person who asserted the interest. An assertion of interest cannot halt an otherwise approve-able transfer; RAM's notification provides 10 working days in which an Asserter may come forward with an appropriate Court Order or other legal instrument that provides authority for RAM to do so; absent that, the transfer will be processed. Assertions are public information, unverified by RAM, and neither constitute nor imply legally-filed liens. NOAA Fisheries makes no representation about content, accuracy or completeness of interest assertion data.

Contact Information

Restricted Access Management Program
National Marine Fisheries Service
PO Box 21668
Juneau, AK 99802-1668
Phone: (907) 586-7474 or 586-7202 (option #2)
Phone: (800) 304-4846 (option #2)
Fax: (907) 586-7354
Email: RAM Program