Reforming and managing marine fisheries for a prosperous fishing industry and a healthy marine environment


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). We need to reform the CFP, which has been widely regarded as ineffective. The current CFP has made it difficult for fishermen to run their businesses successfully, and has resulted in overfishing of EU fish stocks and damage to the marine environment. In the UK, the inshore fleet - fishing boats mostly under 10 metres in length which operate in coastal waters - has faced particular difficulties.

Radical reforms to the CFP were agreed in 2013 including commitments to eliminate discards, decentralise decision making away from Brussels, allowing Member States to work together to agree the detailed measures that are appropriate to their shared fisheries and legally binding requirements to set fishing rates at sustainable levels.


In Europe

A historic deal to reform the broken CFP has been agreed and became law on 1 January 2014. This follows more than three years of difficult negotiations, in which the UK took the lead to secure the fundamental reform of the CFP. In addition we are:

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.

EU funding for fisheries

The European Fisheries Fund (EFF) operates until 30 June 2014 to provide grants for the sustainable development of the fisheries sector. This was extended due to a delay in agreeing the new funding which starts in 2015.

The UK national strategic plan and UK operational programme for the European Fisheries Fund (2007 to 2013) have also been extended to include 2014. They will continue to set out UK objectives and priorities for fisheries covering catching, aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing.

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

The UK wants it to concentrate on funding selective catching gear to help stop discards, and research to improve the economic and environmental 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.

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.

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 22 April 2014 we published a call for evidence on the conduct and operation of Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.

On 31 March 2014 we launched a package of consultations linked to the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. These cover 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. 1342/2008 established a long-term plan for cod stocks. The Days at Sea Scheme allows the UK to comply with this regulation.

European Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 (as amended) protects fisheries resources through technical measures, like fishing gear specifications and restricted fishing areas. There are related transitional measures in Council Regulation (EC) No 1288/2009. 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 and the MMO publish 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.

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