Prosecutions and detentions: MCA enforcement policy and information

Information about the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's policy for enforcing maritime legislation through prosecutions and detentions.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) considers all reports of significant breaches of maritime legislation. Our surveyors also inspect foreign and UK flag commercial and fishing vessels to make sure they comply with international maritime conventions or domestic merchant shipping legislation.

The enforcement action we can take is varied. Any sanction we carry out reflects the seriousness of the legislative breach.

MCA detains non-compliant vessels when appropriate and has a range of administrative sanctions to take before a decision is made to prosecute.

This collection contains:

  • MCA enforcement policy statement
  • prosecutions from 2010
  • detentions of merchant ships and fishing vessels from 2009

Details of prosecutions and detentions are updated on a regular basis.

All current detentions of UK and foreign flagged vessels are also registered on Paris MOU

For details about your rights after a crime has been committed go to After a crime: your rights

MCA enforcement policy


Data for Maritime and Coastguard Agency detentions of fishing vessels and merchant ships as a result of UK flag state inspections.


Details of MCA enforcement unit prosecutions

MCA’s Enforcement Unit considers all reports of significant breaches of maritime legislation. It has a range of administrative sanctions it can take against companies or individuals before it decides to prosecute. As soon as criminal proceedings are started the control over the sanction is passed to the court.

Prosecutions are of owners, companies, masters and officers for breaches of maritime legislation.

This collection contains yearly information about prosecutions from 2010 and the documents are updated regularly. Details include:

  • name of defendant or court
  • date of offence
  • offence
  • details of offence
  • penalty
Published 1 May 2014
Last updated 22 February 2024 + show all updates
  1. Added 2024 enforcement prosecutions document.

  2. 2023 enforcement prosecutions page added to the collection.

  3. Added 2021 and 2022 prosecutions pages to this collection.

  4. Prosecution details for 2017 and 2018 have been added.

  5. We have added details of MCA prosecutions for 2016.

  6. Updated - MCA Enforcement Prosecutions: 2014 (amended) & 2015

  7. First published.