Guidance

Manage and lease fishing quota

How you can manage, allocate, swap, transfer or lease fishing quotas.

How we manage fisheries quota

European Union laws limit the amount of fish that may be landed each year – the total allowable catch (TAC) – to preserve fish stocks. Each member state, including the UK, receives an agreed share of the TAC as its quota. The UK quota is divided between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If the UK fishing fleet exceeds its quota, the quota may be reduced and there could be large fines.

All UK vessels are subject to detailed quota management rules, which are updated each year. The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is responsible for managing England’s fishing quotas and publishes specific English quota management rules for English vessels.

MMO monitors landings of quota stocks and compares the amount caught and landed against total quota allocation. This is used to inform decisions about quota swaps, changes to catch limits and closing fisheries.

Quota allocations

MMO divides up England’s fishing quotas across the 3 fishing industry groups:

  • sector – fish producer organisations that manage quota for their members
  • 10-metres-and-under pool – vessels 10 metres or under that are not members of a producer organisation
  • non-sector – vessels over 10 metres that are not members of a producer organisations

The number of fixed quota allocation (FQA) units held by the individual vessels in each group, or by a group collectively, establishes what proportion of the EU quota is allocated to each group.

The quota assigned to the non-sector and 10-metre-and-under pools may be adjusted in line with underpinning arrangements – this is where there are guaranteed minimum levels of allocated quota. The minimum level for each stock will be a percentage of the UK quota equal to the average percentage share of initial allocations made to the 10-metres-and-under fleet from 1991 to 1993.

For vessels over 10 metres, FQA units are associated with the licence of the vessel. For vessels 10 metres and under, FQA units are held centrally by MMO.

FQA units

It is important that you are clear about your own FQA units and those associated with any licence or licence entitlement you buy. Statements of the FQA units associated with individual licences are issued to licence holders each year, usually in May. As the holder of a licence you can request details of the FQA units associated with your licence at any time from MMO.

You can:

  • transfer FQA units from a licence entitlement
  • apply for a replacement FQA holding statement

Read more about FQA units and get the application forms.

Quota management in the non-sector <10m and >10m pools

Vessels that do not have their quota managed by a Producer Organisation are managed by the Marine Management Organisation via catch limits. Catch limits are set predominantly monthly but are also set weekly or quarterly for some stocks. Vessels are categorised by length; either over or under-10m and all vessels within each length category are bound by the same catch limits. Quota management in the non sector pages provide further information.

Quota swaps

Producer organisations can swap quota with other groups within the UK and MMO approves these swaps. The PO submits the Domestic Quota Swap Form to quotaswap.dqs@marinemanagement.org.uk MMO negotiates quota swaps with other EU member states.

Leasing extra quota

You can apply to lease extra quota from a producer organisation (PO), to supplement your catch limits or to keep fishing a stock where the 10-metres-and-under or non-sector pool allocation has been used.

Published 11 June 2014
Last updated 14 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Text and attachment updated

  2. Details on page updated

  3. Page text amended

  4. Documents updated

  5. 2015 Leasing Letter template updated

  6. 2015 example letter added

  7. 2015 Fishing opportunities Total Allowable Catches tables added

  8. First published.