Northern Ireland fishing vessel licensing

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) issue and administer vessel licences that all UK fishing vessels are required to have in order to fish for profit. Fishing licences can be transferred subject to existing licensing rules.

Simplification of NI sea fishing vessel licensing

In 2014, the Department completed a consultation exercise on the simplification of fishing vessel licences. The Department  considered the responses and in 2015 it indicated it introduced a number of changes:

  • removal of the expiry date of fishing vessel licences 
  • removal of the expiry date of entitlements 
  • removal of capacity penalties 
  • removal the mismatch rule 

The changes yet to be made include moving to a single licence category for over 10 metere vessels.

Scallop entitlements

There will be no change to scallop entitlements held on licences administered by DAERA, but licences that come into the DAERA administered fleet that have had their scallop entitlements frozen or removed by another Administration shall be regarded as not having a scallop entitlement. If any further clarification is required please contact this office.


To apply for a fishing vessel licence, please read the following vessel licensing guidance or contact your local fishery office:

Before applying for your licence

All commercial UK fishing vessels need to be registered with the Registry of Shipping and Seamen, which is part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency based in Cardiff.

Licensing / MSR1 / NEP1 forms

Forms and explanatory notes are available to download or by contacting your local fisheries office.

Variations to a licence

Licence variations occur to reflect changes in quota limits and closures / openings of sea areas during the lifetime of a licence, as requested by our quota managers.

For a list of all fishing vessel licence variations relating to the Northern Ireland fleet visit the fishing vessel licence variations page.

Mourne Herring Fishery

DAERA makes an annual announcement that licences for the Mourne Herring Fishery will be available. Historically the Mourne Herring Fishery can last from 1 September to 31 December subject to exhaustion of the quota allocation.

Application forms are normally made available from local fisheries offices. All licence applications must be accompanied by a copy of the vessels current Certificate of Registry issued under The Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

For more information, view the mourne herring fishery guidance notes.

Contact your local fishery office

Contact details for your local fishery office and DAERA headquarters.

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