The Category A licence is for British-registered fishing vessels that are not exempt. The permit allows you to catch and sell sea fish.
You would need to follow these three steps (in this order) to get a Category A (10 metres or under) fishing vessel licence:
- Register the vessel
- Get a licence entitlement
- Apply for the licence
A similar process applies to commercial fishing licences for vessels over 10 metres (and for mussel seed licences).
Note: Fishing vessel licences need to be made available for inspection (on the spot) by any marine enforcement officer. So, you must carry it on board the vessel at all times.
Fishing Vessel Licence Exemption
Several exemptions apply to this particular maritime law for vessels. You would not need to get a fishing licence for a vessel 10 metres or under if (any):
- It is a boat without an engine (e.g. a sailing craft).
- You will only be using vessel to fish for pleasure (not selling the catch).
- It will only be used to fish for common eels, migratory trout, or salmon.
- You will only be fishing within 12 nautical miles of Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man (you may need a licence from the relevant authority).
Note: You would need to get a UK fishing rod licence to fish for common eels, migratory trout, or salmon.
1. Registering the Vessel
The first part of the process for getting a fishing vessel licence is to register your vessel on the UK Ship Registry. An exception may apply to vessels registered in the Channel Islands or in the Isle of Man.
You will need to:
- Arrange for an inspection conducted by a Maritime and Coastguard Agency inspector or surveyor.
- Complete Form MSF 4740A to register a Merchant/Commercial or Pleasure vessel under 100 Gross Tonnes (GT). Fill in the form and send it to the address written on the document.
There is a choice available between registering for simple or for full registration. Having full registration would allow you to take out a marine mortgage against the vessel.
UK Ship Registry Registration Fees
The current cost for simple registration is £111 whereas the fee to get the full registration is £131.
You would need to include certain documents to complete the registration, such as:
- Declaration of Eligibility (MSF 4728).
- Original ownership documents (e.g. a bill of sale, invoice, or a builder’s certificate).
- Seafish Construction Certificate for vessels built after July 2007 (Seafish Inspection Report for vessels built before 2007).
- Safety Certificate issued by MCA (MSF 1606).
- The radio call sign of the vessel (if applicable).
- Deletion certificate (if the vessel was previously registered on another register).
- A copy of the Certificate of Incorporation (if a limited company owns it).
Note: Evidence of ownership must cover the last three (3) years to apply for full registration.
2. Getting a Licence Entitlement
As a general rule, there are two ways to get a fishing vessel licence entitlement, such as:
- By buying a vessel with an entitlement licence.
- By buying it from a vessel that already sunk, has been scrapped, or is no longer used for fishing.
Either way, you would need to ensure that the entitlement is suitable for:
- A vessel which is ten (10) metres or under (Category A).
- The tonnage of the vessel and the size of the engine (i.e. kilowattage).
You would be able to combine two or more entitlements if one fails to cover the vessel. Likewise, you may split up an entitlement if you only need part of it.
Entitlements bought with a Vessel
In this case, the seller would transfer the entitlement into your name as part of the sale. You would then receive form AFL7 from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).
Note: Form AFL7 allows you to convert an entitlement into a fishing vessel licence (details below).
Registering an Entitlement bought without a Vessel
In this case, you would need to get form AFL7 from the nearest Marine Management Organisation (MMO) office. Complete sections A and B of the form and then return it to their office.
Note: MMO would check that the previous owner agreed to the transfer and then return the form to you.
3. Applying for the Licence
Use Form AFL2 to apply for a licence for a British-registered fishing vessel. Fill in the application form and send it to the nearest MMO office, along with the original documentation of:
- Your certificate of registry for the vessel.
- Form AFL7 showing you as the entitlement holder.
A licence would be valid for two (2) years, commencing on the 1st of July and ending two years later on the 30th of June. This type of fishing vessel licence renews by automatic process.