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.