Wholesale Fish Dealer's License

Legislative Background

The Wholesale Fish Dealer program gets its legal mandate from Act 451 of 1994. The law states, in part, "Every person who deals in fish by operating a wholesale fish market or fish house, or who solicits the purchase of or buys fish for wholesale distribution, shall secure a license from the department."

The Wholesale Fish Dealer's License expires on December 31 of each calendar year, and the fee for the license is $5.00.

Businesses that operate more than one establishment are required to license each business separately and display a copy of the license at each location.

This law allows the Department to set reporting requirements. Reporting requirements have been promulgated in Fisheries Order 243.16.

Reporting Requirements

Wholesale Fish Dealers must keep a record of the purchase of fish in a form as required by the department. Currently the department offers three options for reporting (see below). Records are to be filled out for all purchases of freshwater fish and roe regardless of the state or country of origin. Reporting of salt water species is not required.

The Department must receive purchase records by the 10th of each month immediately following the date of fish acquisition by the dealer. This due date also applies even if there are no purchase records to report. Example: purchases made June 1-30 are due by July 10th.

The purchase record is open to inspection at the wholesaler's place of business by the department.


Failure to report purchase records by the 10th of each month immediately following the date of fish acquisition by the dealer may result in enforcement action being taken and result in the revocation of the wholesale fish dealer license.

Reporting Options

The Department provides three options for reporting purchase transactions. The three methods are: Internet Web Page, Paper form, and Internet file upload. Wholesalers are to choose one reporting option. The preferred method for reporting is by one of the electronic methods as the Department is looking to phase out paper for reporting in the future. Each is described below.

Web Page Entry

The web page option entails entering purchase records into a form. Web page entry allows storage of records until they are released to the Department. All online entries are checked for errors so that dealers can make on-the-spot corrections. Once a month's worth of records are released, a confirmation number is displayed (and printable) for dealer records. The wholesaler is responsible for releasing their stored records to the Department within legally required timeframes.

Paper Form

The paper form reporting option entails filling out Wholesale Fish Dealer Purchase Record form. This form is a 3-part form that identifies seller, wholesaler and items purchased by the wholesaler from the seller. One form is filled out for every seller/date acquired combination.

Internet File Upload

The electronic file option entails having a file created by the dealer based on Department specifications that is uploaded to a Department server. Once uploaded to the server, the file is checked for various errors. If errors exist, the upload process lists all errors within the file so that they can be corrected and resubmitted. When the file passes error checking and is accepted the process creates a confirmation number indicating that the Department has accepted the file for the month being reported.

The file itself will be comprised of four record types each being of fixed length. The file will be an ASCII text file. The file will have to conform to the file specifications that the Department will communicate to you if this reporting option is chosen. The file itself can easily be created from freely available text editors (on the Internet) or by writing a program to extract data from the dealer's computer system and writing the data into the appropriate fixed-length positions in each record type.

Additional Legislative Requirements

A person holding a Wholesale Fish Dealers license shall not transport or cause to be transported, or deliver or receive for transportation, any package or parcel containing any fish or carcass or part of any fish or carcass unless the package or parcel is labeled in plain English on the address side of the package or parcel so as to disclose the name and address of the consignor, the name and address of the consignee, and the number of pounds of each kind of fish contained in the package or parcel.

Fish Cleaning Stations

A Wholesale Fish Dealer License and the reporting requirements also apply to those who operate Licensed Fish Cleaning Stations for Salmon. The nature of these businesses are slightly different than a normal Wholesale Fish Dealer in that Fish Cleaning Stations collect and sell a product rather than solicit the purchase of a product for wholesale distribution. In spite of these differences Wholesale Dealers who operate Cleaning Stations still need to supply a monthly report of any purchases, negative or otherwise.

Contact Information

Any other questions about your wholesale license or reporting requirements should be directed to F/Lt. David Shaw (616) 218-3762 or shawd1@michigan.gov during normal business hours.

To order reporting forms for the paper reporting option, please call Cheryl Benson at 517-284-5818. You may e-mail form requests at BensonC1@michigan.gov, please make sure the subject line states "Forms". Do not include written requests for forms with monthly submittals. The forms can not be mailed to Post Office Boxes, so please provide a physical address.