Fishing vessels that are registered in the UK (with the Register of Shipping and Seamen in Cardiff) are only allowed to fish if they have the necessary licence to do so, and a fishing vessel licence is required to land catches of sea fish for profit.
No licence is required by ordinary members of the public who intend to catch a small number of fish for their own consumption, but they are not permitted to sell anything they catch for profit.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that 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.
A short-life working group established by the Inshore Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (IFMAC) has made recommendations as to how the incidence of unlicensed fishermen selling their catch on a commercial basis can be reduced.
The report was endorsed by IFMAC, and Marine Scotland will look at how it can co-operate with or encourage other organisations where the actions recommended fall to them, and will consult on measures that would require legislative action shortly.
A consultation on measures for hobby/unlicensed fishermen in Scottish inshore waters, based on the recommendations of the IFMAC working group, was launched on 30 January 2015 and closed on 31 May 2015.
The outcome report, Promoting Best Practice for Inshore Fisheries: Outcome Report on a consultation on measures for hobby/unlicensed fishermen in Scottish inshore waters is also available online.