Guidance

Deposits

This guidance outlines the circumstances under which a marine licence may be required from the marine management organisation.

Deposit of any substance or object

A marine licence is required to deposit any substance or object within English waters or Northern Ireland offshore waters, either in the sea or on or under the sea bed if the deposit is made from a:

  • Vehicle
  • Vessel
  • Aircraft
  • Marine structure
  • Floating container
  • Structure for the purpose of depositing solids in the sea

‘Vehicle’, ‘vessel’, ‘aircraft’, ‘marine structure’ and ‘floating container’ are defined in Section 115 of the MCAA 2009.

Deposits anywhere else in the world

A marine licence is required to deposit any substance or object anywhere in the sea or on or under the sea bed if the deposit is made from a:

  • British vessel
  • British aircraft
  • British marine structure
  • Floating container (if the deposit from it is controlled by one of the above)

‘British vessel’, ‘British aircraft’, ‘British marine structure’ and ‘Floating container’ are defined in Section 115 of the MCAA 2009.

A marine licence is also required to deposit any substance or object which has been loaded in any part of the UK (except Scotland) or in the English waters or Northern Ireland offshore waters. This applies to deposits made anywhere in the sea or on or under the sea bed when the deposit is made from a:

  • Vehicle
  • Vessel
  • Aircraft
  • Marine structure
  • Floating container

‘Vehicle’, ‘vessel’, ‘aircraft’, ‘marine structure’ and ‘floating container’ are defined in Section 115 of the MCAA 2009.

Recreational dive guidance

The MMO has produced some detailed guidance to help divers understand whether their specific activities will require a marine licence.

In addition, the MMO has produced Best Practice Guidance for the Recovery of Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gear(ALDFG).

Burial at sea

Some burials at sea may be suitable for self-service marine licensing. To check to see if you qualify or to apply for a self-service licence use the MMO’s interactive assistance tool.

The MMO has produced some detailed guidance setting out the marine licence requirements for anyone wishing to know more about burial at sea.

Deposit or use of explosives

A marine licence is required to deposit or use any explosive substance or article, by any means, within English waters or Northern Ireland offshore waters, either in the sea or under the sea bed.

Disposing of waste to sea

Disposing of most wastes or other matter at sea is prohibited by the OSPAR Convention.

‘Waste’ is defined in Article 3 of the EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) as ‘any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard’. Please refer to the Technical guidance WM3 on Waste classification.

Only the following types of waste may be disposed of at sea, based on a detailed assessment of risks and a marine licence from the MMO:

  • dredged material
  • inert materials of natural origin
  • fish waste – including shellfish and any part of a fish

When deciding whether to grant a disposal licence, the MMO applies the waste hierarchy from the Waste Framework Directive, which specifies the order of preference for how waste should be dealt with:

  • prevention - can include not carrying out an activity
  • re-use – finding an alternative, beneficial use for waste material
  • recycling - can include making high grade products from waste material
  • other recovery - can include treatment to alter the physical nature of the waste material
  • disposal at sea - the last resort

Please refer to the Guidance on applying the waste hierarchy.

Disposal sites

If you intend to dispose of material to sea you must propose an area where the disposal is to take place. You can either propose a site that has been authorised for dredge disposal or an entirely new site.

You must provide sufficient information for the MMO to assess the proposal. The MMO will decide if the material is suitable for sea disposal and whether the area proposed is appropriate.

You will need to provide site characterisation information to propose a new site. This is usually in the form of a site characterisation report that:

  • assesses the need for a new site
  • identifies suitable areas
  • assesses requirements of the dredged material characteristics
  • evaluates potential adverse effects
  • compares candidate disposal sites

The report should also consider site selection and summarise any consultations.

If a site is designated as a result of your licence application and characterisation report, you do not have exclusive use of that site. A licence may be granted to other operators to use the same site.

Sample analysis

Sample analysis may be needed to support an application for a disposal licence.

Published 30 May 2019