Financial administrative penalties

An introduction to the financial administrative penalties system, which has been designed to complement the enforcement system.


The financial administrative penalties system has been designed to complement the existing enforcement system. Similar schemes operate in England, Wales and Scotland.

What follows is a summary of the guidance. You are urged to read the full guidance notes and consult the relevant legislation where necessary.

Use of penalties

You may be offered a financial administrative penalty (FAP) under the Order as an alternative to criminal prosecution in certain circumstances.

A penalty will only be offered where there is reason to believe that a person has committed an offence for which an administrative penalty may be issued.

When the scheme applies and who is liable

This scheme applies to offences committed in relation to Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) fishing vessels wherever they operate or by other fishing vessels within British fishery limits.

In accordance with the regulations, and where appropriate, the master, owner, charterer, representative, operator and/or legally liable person may be issued with a penalty notice.

How to deal with a penalty

The penalty must be paid within 28 days to discharge the offender's liability to be prosecuted for the offence. However you will be under no obligation to accept and pay the penalty if you wish to have the matter dealt with via court proceedings. Non-payment of the penalty will not constitute an offence in itself.

When penalties will not be offered

Administrative penalties will not be offered for:

  • obstruction, failure to comply with requirements made by marine enforcement officers or preventing another person from complying, and assaults/threats to MEOs or those assisting them – these will be referred for prosecution
  • offences under an EU recovery plan which attract automatic licence suspension when no further penalty will apply
  • certain illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) offences pertaining to the operation and engagement of IUU-listed vessels

Written warnings

Written warnings may still be issued, however please note that a written warning or a financial administrative penalty may not always be issued for a first or subsequent offence where the authorities believe that the offending is of such a nature that court proceedings are more appropriate.

Repeat offending may result in increased penalties or automatic referral for prosecution.

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