Get fishing or management rights for a shellfishery

How to apply for a several order or a regulating order: application process and documents required.

Fishing rights grant permission to fish in specific areas of sea or tidal waters.

For shellfisheries they cover fishing for molluscs and crustaceans, including:

  • oysters
  • mussels
  • clams
  • cockles
  • scallops
  • queen scallops
  • crabs
  • lobsters

If you disturb shellfish or shellfish beds without permission you can be prosecuted and fined.

Fishing rights for a shellfishery (several order)

To get fishing rights for a natural shellfishery or shellfish farm you need to apply for a several order, which gives you the exclusive right within a specified area to:

  • fish or dredge for specified shellfish
  • move or deposit specified shellfish
  • create and maintain shellfish beds
  • lease or transfer the shellfishery

When these rights are granted the public no longer have a right to fish in the area.

Several orders usually last for 5 to 10 years.

You may be prevented from using:

  • particular fishing methods (for example, powered boats)
  • dredging (to protect specified shellfish)

Management rights for a shellfishery (regulating order)

To get management rights for a shellfishery you need to apply for a regulating order, which gives you the right to make regulations for the fishery, which may include:

  • issuing fishing licences
  • excluding anyone without a licence

Regulating orders usually last for 20 to 30 years.

Before you apply for fishing or management rights, you should get consent from anyone who has a:

  • right of fishery (anyone who has a right to fish in the area)
  • right to do any other activity (like sport or recreation)

If you consult with other affected parties it may reduce the chances of objections being raised.

Permission for fisheries in protected areas

You may need to consult with Natural England if the fishery is in or may affect:

You may need to consult with the Marine Management Organisation if the area is in a Marine Conservation Zone.

Documents you need before you apply

Before you apply you need:

  • written consents from owners of rights
  • 5-year management plan – see the sample
  • 2 copies of the latest Admiralty chart of the area (standard map of the sea) – one must be the original chart, the other can be a photocopy but must accurately show the area of the proposed fishery
  • company contact details (if you’re applying on behalf of a company)
  • an environmental statement (if needed)

Apply for a several order or regulating order

The process for applying for a several order or regulating order is:

  1. Send the completed Application for a several order or regulating order (PDF, 53.6KB, 8 pages) (including any necessary documents) – see the guide to applying.
  2. If your application is accepted, the draft order is sent to you and to interested parties for comment (other people using the area or with rights over the area). If your application is refused you get a rejection letter or email explaining why your application has been refused.
  3. You must pay to advertise the draft order in local papers, inviting objections (you’ll be given a draft advertisement and a list of newspapers to advertise in).
  4. You’re notified of any objections and have the opportunity to try and resolve them.
  5. If there are unresolved significant objections there may be a public enquiry or an environmental assessment. You need to pay for the enquiry and to advertise it in local papers.
  6. If the order is granted you’re notified by email and are sent a copy of the order.
  7. You must pay to advertise the order in local papers with details of when it comes into force.
  8. You’re told that the order has come into force.

It can take up to 2 years to obtain an order. It can take this long to follow formal procedures to protect the rights of everyone with an interest in the area.

Once granted, the order can’t be amended or extended. To make changes, you need to apply again.

You must keep a copy of the order and a map of the fishery limits in case anyone wants to see it.

You may need to provide certified accounts and annual returns each financial year, showing activity in the fishery, including the tonnage and value of shellfish taken.

Get authorised to set up a shellfish farm

You must apply for authorisation before setting up a shellfish farm.



Shellfish and aquaculture team


Telephone: 020 7238 4869

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Natural England


Telephone: 0845 060 3900

Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm

Marine Management Organisation

Contact your local Marine Management Organisation office

Find out about call charges.

Published 31 July 2014