Fishing vessel licensing archives the management of the fishing opportunities allocated to the UK fleet by restricting the capture of individual stocks, in order to prevent UK quotas being exceeded. This is done in two ways.
For sectoral vessels, that is vessels in a Producer Organisation (PO) taking sectoral allocations, by stating in the licence what quota species may be caught and in which area(s). When a PO’s allocation of a particular stock is exhausted, the licences of vessels in the PO are varied to remove authorisation to fish for that stock.
For non-sector vessels, in addition to stating what quota species may be caught, the licence also lays down what quantities may be caught and in which area(s), in a given period of time, usually a month. Non-sector catch restrictions vary throughout the year, depending upon the pattern of the fishery and the level of uptake. Variations to non-sector licences are issued as the restrictions change.
Since 1990 the capacity of fishing vessels has been controlled through the licences attached to them. For this purpose the capacity of a fishing vessel is measured by the tonnage and engine power (kilowatts) of the vessel.
Management of the fleet is achieved through having a restrictive licensing scheme, in which no new licences are issued. This places a ceiling on the total number of vessels in the UK fishing fleet. In order to license new vessels, fishermen must acquire one or more existing licence entitlements from other previously licensed vessels. Capacity penalties are levied on some licence transactions which contribute towards the reductions in the capacity of the UK fleet required under EC regulations.
Under the Sea Fish Licensing Order 1992 (as amended) all British registered fishing vessels require a licence issued by UK Fisheries Departments to fish for sea fish, (with a few exceptions)
There are three basic licence categories available. These are:
- category A licences - these allow full access to all stocks available to UK vessels and include all licences for under 10 metre vessels, and pelagic licences for over 10 metre vessels
- category B licences - these allow restricted access to all available stocks
- category C licences - these allow more restricted access to available stocks
These licences may include additional entitlements to cover Beam trawl fishing; or fishing for Deep Water Species; or fishing for Handline Mackerel in IVa; or fishing for Scallops by mechanical dredge; or Shellfishing.
In addition to these basic licence categories, special licences are required for certain minor pelagic fisheries, for which there are special access arrangements for example The Mourne Herring Fishery.
Licensing procedures and forms
For detailed information on licensing procedures, variations and licensing forms visit the fishing vessel licensing page.
The statistics section manages DARD fisheries data to meet UK, EU and international reporting obligations and to support the development of policy. We deal with the following:
- management, recording and provision of data on fishing activities, and responding to ad hoc requests for information
- management of effort control for the Northern Ireland fleet
- quota use statistics
Fish landings into Northern Ireland
For information detailing the total landings of fish and shellfish (by species live weight and value) into Northern Ireland, visit the fish landings into Northern Ireland page.
Marine Management Organisation (MMO)
The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) published its statistical report UK Sea Fisheries Statistics 2013 on the 25th September 2014.
The report includes detailed figures on the UK fishing fleet, the number of fishermen, the quantity and value of landings, international trade and the state of key fishing stocks.
The full report and supplementary tables are available to download from the GOV.UK website.
A brief summary of the report is available to download on the DARD website.
Cod conservation measures
The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is responsible for managing cod recovery measures.The purpose of the scheme is to manage fishing effort to comply with the long term cod recovery plan toward improving the sustainability of cod stocks.