Authorisations under the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966

Information on permits issued under sections 14 and 48, and exemption permits issued under 54, 58 and 59 of the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966.

Fish Dealer’s Licence

The relevant provisions in the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966 relate to the requirement for a fish dealer to obtain an authorisation licence from DAERA and maintain a register for all fish acquired or disposed of for each place of sale.  Specifically, under sections 113 and 114 of the Fisheries Act (NI) 1966, DAERA require that anyone who has salmon, trout, eels, pike or pollen in his possession for sale to have a valid dealer’s licence authorising them to sell such fish at that place or vehicle.  It is an offence to sell or have in their possession such fish without a valid licence.  Unless disqualified from holding a licence, a person may apply to the Department in writing or online and must forward:

  • A certificate signed by a lay magistrate that the person is a fit and proper person to receive a licence (only if applying for your first licence. This is not needed for renewals) ; and
  • A fee (currently £50.50).

If applying in writing you should contact:
Portadown Fisheries Office
1 Mahon Road
Co Armagh
BT62 3EE

Telephone: 028 38339748

If you are applying online for your initial Fish Dealer’s licence, you will have to pay the fee upfront and then your licence will be issued when the confirmation certificate from a lay magistrate is received. Should you encounter any problems after your payment has been made, please contact our Portadown office to discuss any issues arising.

When you are issued with your fish dealer’s licence, you will be given a Unique Reference Number which you should keep safely, as you will need this to renew any future licences. The Dealer's licence is valid for the calendar year from date of issue.

Section 120 of the Act requires that every holder of a dealer’s licence must keep a register of all salmon, trout, eels, pike or pollen acquired or disposed of for each place of sale.  The format of a dealer’s register is prescribed in the schedule to The Licence Holders (Dealers Register) Byelaws (NI) 1992 SR No. 145.  The application form and format of the dealer’s licence are not prescribed by legislation.

The provisions above are considered not to be discriminatory and proportionate.  To fulfil DAERA’s statutory obligations under the 1966 Fisheries Act, for the conservation and protection of salmon and inland fisheries, these provisions are also considered necessary as a tool to monitor and regulate fishing activity.

Permits issued under section 14 

Section 14 of the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966, as amended, provides exemptions for artificial propagation and improvement of a fishery. The Department may, by permit in writing, and subject to any conditions specified in the permit, authorise any named person to do, at any season of the year, such things as may be specified in the permit for the purpose of artificial propagation of salmon or freshwater fish or for the improvement of any inland fishery.

A section 14 permit authorises the holder to carry out activities which would normally be illegal. Examples of activities permitted under the authority of these permits include catching and being in possession of salmon or trout by electric fishing for supportive breeding programmes, or catching fresh water fish by an approved method for transfer between inland fisheries.

Application form and guidance

Applications for Section 14 permits MUST be received 7 working days before the start date of the operation.

Permits issued under section 48

Section 48 of the Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966 as amended makes it an offence to remove material from a river bed without prior approval from the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure. The removal of watercourse substrate can degrade fisheries habitat, cause mortalities to the spawn and fry of salmonids (Atlantic salmon and brown trout) and disturb the natural behaviour of adult fish with resulting negative impacts.

A section 48 permit authorises the holder to carry out activities which would normally be illegal (i.e. the removal of river bed substrate) with operations restricted by such conditions as the Department considers appropriate.

Application form and guidance

Applications for Section 48 permits MUST be received 28 working days before the start of the operation.

Exemption permits issued under sections 54, 58 and 59

The Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1966, as amended and Sections 54, 58 and 59, in particular, set out clearly the responsibility on water abstractors to protect fish.

Abstractors must comply with the provisions of the Act unless the Department has issued an exemption permit containing specific alternative measures for fish protection, relating to that site.

The law recognises that operators may encounter serious problems in complying strictly with the regulations outlined in these sections. In addition, strict compliance with the law, in certain circumstances, may potentially be damaging to fish. It is also impossible to frame legislation for the protection of migratory fish, which would suit every location. Accordingly, the Fisheries Act provides for the Department to grant exemption certificates where it is satisfied that acceptable and in many cases, superior alternative measures can be provided. In such cases the law permits the Department to issue an exemption permit containing such conditions as the Department considers will provide equal or better fish protection at the site.

These permits will only be issued after consultation with the abstractor and directly adjacent fishery owners.


Persons applying for an exemption permit should do so on the application form below:


For more information or further guidance, contact Inland Fisheries.

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