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General Guidance

Who needs a fishing vessel licence?

In order to fish commercially for sea fish using a vessel and to land its catch for profit, a fishing vessel licence is required.

A licensed fishing vessel must be registered on the UK Ship Register (UKSR).

If you are in doubt as to whether you require a fishing vessel licence, please contact your local Marine Scotland Fishery Office.

What is a fishing vessel licence?

In Scotland, fishing vessel licences are issued by Marine Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers. Scottish fishing vessel licences are issued to vessels registered in Scotland. A licence specifies conditions which must be adhered to by a vessel owner/master/charterer.

Licences are split into length category – '10 Metres & Under' and 'Over 10 Metres'.

Since 1 July 2017, licences provide a general authority to fish. Prior to that date different categories of licence specified which stocks of fish could be caught.

Licensing Rules

New rules now apply to sea fisheries licensing. If you have a query about the rules that apply to your vessel, or are undertaking licensing transactions, please speak to your local Marine Scotland Fishery Office.

How do you obtain a fishing vessel licence?

No new fishing vessel licences are issued. To obtain a licence for the first time an entitlement has to be secured from a current licence holder. An entitlement is created when a licence is no longer attached to an active fishing vessel (this is commonly referred to as a 'hip pocket' entitlement).

Changing country of administration

Where a vessel (with or without its licence attached) wants to either enter Scottish administration from another UK Fisheries Administration (UKFA), or leave Scotland in order to join another UKFA, a ‘Request to Change Country of Administration Form’ must be submitted and approved before any move takes place. The form can be obtained online or from your local Fishery Office. Applications to change UKFA will be considered in terms of the Concordat on UK Fisheries Management.