Promoting Best Practice for Inshore Fisheries

Closed 31 May 2015

Opened 30 Jan 2015

Results Updated 6 Feb 2019

Fishing vessels that fish commercially and land their catch for profit in the UK must firstly hold a valid Certificate of Registry and be registered with the Register of Shipping and Seamen at Cardiff. In addition they must also hold a valid UK fishing vessel licence issued by a UK Fisheries Administration. The licence specifies conditions which must be adhered to by vessel owners when fishing activity is being pursued.

No licence is required by ordinary members of the public who wish to fish for pleasure. Unlicensed fishing vessels may not sell their catch, nor may fish be bought from an unlicensed vessel.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest there is a significant issue of hobby/unlicensed fishermen illegally selling their catch on a commercial basis. By its very nature this is difficult to measure, however, it would appear there are particular hotspots around the coast and increased activity during spring/summer months.

Marine Scotland recognises the detrimental effect hobby/unlicensed fishermen are having on the commercial fishermen who comply with relevant regulations. Whilst no one is attempting to prevent genuine hobby fishermen from catching ‘one for the pot’, there is a strong desire to target unlicensed fishermen fishing commercially under the guise of conducting a hobby.

The measures set out in this report aims to reduce the incidence of unlicensed fishermen operating a commercial business under the smokescreen of being a hobby fishermen.

Read the consultation outcome report.

Published Responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.

Overview

(photograph by Liz Moir)

The Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (IFMAC) established a short-life working group to discuss the issue of hobby/unlicensed fishermen and report back with possible actions to reduce the incidence of unlicensed fishing.

Fishing vessels that fish commercially and land their catch for profit in the UK must firstly hold a valid Certificate of Registry and be registered with the Register of Shipping and Seamen at Cardiff. In addition they must also hold a valid UK fishing vessel licence issued by a UK Fisheries Administration.

 The licence specifies conditions which must be adhered to by vessel owners when fishing activity is being pursued. It authorises the sea areas in which a vessel can fish and the species of fish that can be targeted, and is the mechanism of control that enables UK Fisheries Administrations to regulate fishing under the quotas (TACs) set and allocated annually to the UK under the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

No licence is required by ordinary members of the public who intend to catch a small number of seafish for their own consumption. They are not permitted to sell for profit anything they catch.

By its very nature, the illegal selling of catch for profit by hobby/unlicensed fishermen is difficult to measure; however, there is evidence to suggest this is a significant issue around the Scottish coast in particular hotspots. The problem also increases during spring/summer months.

There is also evidence to suggest that the problem exists in relation to fishing for crabs and lobsters with creels and also in relation to diving for scallops which can be harder to monitor as this activity can be undertaken from beaches etc.

Current legislation allows fishing for personal consumption but does not define what this means. Reports have been received of unlicensed creelers using hundreds of pots and scallop divers collecting several large sacks of scallops in one day’s fishing.

EU legislative provisions require that all fisheries products (subject to the exception noted below), are first marketed or registered at a registered auction centre or to registered buyers or to producer organisations. Registration is free. However, a buyer acquiring fisheries products of an amount up to 30 kg which are not placed on the market but are used only for private consumption are exempted from this requirement.

There are safety issues in relation to hobby/unlicensed fishermen as they may not have the relevant safety certificates etc or be complying with best practice. There are also public safety and health concerns due to the untraceability of produce and the possibility of shellfish being sourced from areas affected by toxins, particularly if harvested from unclassified waters.

Over fishing and non-compliance with regulations on landing sizes may impact on the long term sustainability of stocks. When licensed fishermen see unlicensed fishermen selling their catch for profit without any apparent hindrance to their efforts they see that there is not a level playing field. As a result, it can be difficult to persuade commercial fishermen to engage in voluntary activities such as data gathering and other measures that will have a long term benefit for fisheries management.

Why We Are Consulting

The purpose of this consultation document is to seek the views of those who actively fish in Scottish inshore waters whether as commercial or hobby fishermen, and stakeholders with a wider interest in the marine environment.

Responses to this consultation will be used to inform policy development in this area.The consultation will last for 12 weeks and responses are invited by 24 April 2015.

The views and suggestions received in consultation responses will be analysed and presented to the Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (IFMAC) the national co-management body for discussion and endorsement of next steps.

Read the consultation paper.

What Happens Next

The views and suggestions received in consultation responses will be analysed and presented to the Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (IFMAC) the national co-management body for discussion and endorsement of next steps.

Audiences

  • People of Scotland

Interests

  • Marine and Fisheries