Fishing provides billions of people with food, jobs and livelihoods. The marine environment must be managed effectively to support a healthy marine ecosystem and fish stocks.

The World Bank estimates that mismanagement of fisheries costs countries $50 billion a year. This includes $10 to $24 billion worth of fish that are caught illegally worldwide, depriving communities of income, food and jobs.

EU fisheries, and EU interests in global fisheries, are managed through the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). After over three years of negotiations, in which the UK took the lead to secure the fundamental reform of the CFP, a new CFP came into force on 1 January 2014.

It includes commitments to eliminate discards and decentralise decision making away from Brussels. It also has legally binding requirements to set fishing rates at sustainable levels. With decentralised decision making, member states can work together to agree which detailed measures are appropriate for their shared fisheries.


In Europe

We are:

We are also:

In the UK

We are:


We are:


Vessel licensing and enforcement

UK Fisheries Administrations have agreed a Concordat on the management of the UK’s fish quotas and licences. In England the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is responsible for licensing fishing vessels, according to EU regulations.

The EU ‘control’ regulation ensures compliance with the rules of the CFP. It includes the use of vessel monitoring systems and electronic recording systems, as well as a range of other control requirements.

The MMO co-ordinates an enforcement programme, which involves monitoring, control and surveillance of sea fishing in British fishery limits around the coast of England and English vessels operating outside those waters. Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs) enforce their own byelaws in their districts.

The usual level of enforcement, including of IFCA byelaws, and spot checks is being maintained, despite a short term reduction in enforcement powers available to IFCA officers in the spring of 2015. The MMO is warranting a number of IFCA officers with relevant powers, so that they can continue to operate as normal, enforcing EU regulations relating to fisheries and marine conservation, as well as their own byelaws.

EU funding for fisheries

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will operate from 2015 to 2020, replacing the current European Fisheries Fund.

The UK will concentrate on measures to reduce the amount of discarded fish. This includes providing funding for more selective catching gear and research to improve the sustainability of the fishing industry.

UK shell fisheries

Shellfish are both caught and cultivated in the UK. They are of great importance to our fishing industry and the aquaculture industry.

Scallop fisheries are one of the UK’s most valuable fisheries. The Scallop Fishing (England) Order 2012 came into force in October 2012 to safeguard stocks.

We used collected data to assess the status of the health of our scallop stocks using “Red Bag scheme”. Centre for Environmental, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) have produced a report outlining the findings and conclusions of the scheme. We are now looking at options for long term monitoring.

Brown crab and lobster fisheries are also amongst the most valuable fisheries in England. As quota stocks come under increasing pressure and more vessels catch crabs and lobsters, there are concerns about over-fishing, particularly of brown crabs.

Following the stock assessments in 2012, Cefas is finalising the second round of crab and lobster assessments and will be publishing more assessments soon. The assessments have been discussed with inshore fisheries and conservation authorities and stakeholders.

We, along with the devolved administrations, have drafted the UK’s multiannual national plan for aquaculture. This document sets out how the UK is responding to the main challenges which the aquaculture industry currently faces. It also outlines how European Maritime and Fisheries (EMFF) funds will help develop the sector under the reformed Common Fisheries Programme.

Centre for Environmental, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has carried out crab and lobster assessments and will be publishing more assessments soon. The assessments are being discussed with inshore fisheries and conservation authorities at their quarterly committee meetings then with the wider fishing industry.

Who we’ve consulted

On 10 February 2015 we published a consultation about reducing latent capacity in the English inshore fleet.

On 23 January 2015 we published a consultation on the demersal landing obligation (discard ban) in England.

On 22 April 2014 we published a call for evidence on the conduct and operation of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities (IFCAs). The first report on the work of IFCAs in the four years to 31 August 2014 has now been published.

On 31 March 2014 we launched a package of consultations linked to the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. These covered how we:

In 2012, we sought views on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund proposals.

In 2011, we consulted on the EC proposals to reform the CFP and the Common Organisation of the Markets (CMO) in fishery and aquaculture products.

We consulted on reform of domestic fisheries management arrangements in England in 2011. We also launched an industry discussion on the future of Seafish, which provides support to the seafood industry across the whole supply chain and is funded by a statutory levy. In February 2012 we published the response to the discussion setting out the next steps for Seafish. The discussion was informed by the Cleasby Review.

Bills and legislation

Legislation under the Common Fisheries Policy

European Council Regulation No. 1380/2013 introduced the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

European Council Regulation No. 1342/2008 established a long-term plan for cod stocks. The objective of the plan is the recovery of cod stocks through various measures like restricting the number of days a vessel is permitted to fish. The Days at Sea Scheme is how we comply with this regulation in England. The EU cod plan is under review and how cod stocks are managed is likely to change. This will make sure that measures reflect regional nature of fisheries as set out in the reformed common fisheries policy.

European Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 (as amended) protects fisheries resources through technical measures, like fishing gear specifications and restricted fishing areas. European Council Regulation 1224/2009 is known as the ‘Control regulation’ and ensures compliance with the CFP. Commission Regulation 404/2011 covers related implementing rules.

The Sea Fishing (Licences and Notices) (England) Regulations (2012) , which came into force in April 2012, enables electronic notification of variations to the licences of English fishing vessels.

The financial administrative penalties scheme operates under statutory instrument SI 2008 No. 984.

Council Regulation (EC) No 199/2008 deals with an EC framework to collect, manage and use data in the fisheries sector, and support for scientific advice on the CFP.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Council regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 aims to stop the import of IUU fishery products into the EU. Council regulation (EU) No 86/2010 amended Annex I to the 2008 regulation and Council regulation 468/2010 established an EU illegal, unreported and unregulated vessel list.


The Sea Fisheries (Shellfish) Act 1967 deals with establishing and improving commercial shellfisheries through a Several Order. It also covers preserving and improving wild shellfisheries that may be at risk of over-exploitation through a Regulating Order.

The Scallop Fishing (England) Order 2012 replaced the Scallop Fishing Order 2004.

The MMO has supporting information about regulations and legislation.

Who we’re working with

Devolved administrations

The devolved administrations manage fisheries in their own waters:

We work with them to agree a UK position for negotiations in the EU.

Delivery partners and research centres

The MMO is responsible for regulation and licensing of fishing in England.

Defra publishes a newsletter, ‘Fishing Focus’, to keep stakeholders up-to-date on marine fisheries and other marine issues.

Centre for Environmental, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), including the Fish Health Inspectorate, carry out research and monitoring of fish and shellfish stocks.

Seafish supports the seafood industry.

Inshore fisheries and conservation authorities are responsible for the sustainable management of inshore fisheries in their districts.

European and international organisations

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas advises on the effects of human exploitation on marine ecosystems and provides fish stock assessments for EU fisheries negotiations.

Regional advisory councils involve fishing and environmental stakeholders in the management of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna is responsible for conserving tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas.