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Monitoring and enforcement

We co-ordinate an enforcement programme for monitoring, control and surveillance of all sea fishing activity within British fishery limits around the coast of England, and UK vessels operating outside those waters.

We investigate and take appropriate enforcement action (including prosecution) when breaches of the regulations are identified. This enforcement work is crucial to ensuring high compliance with fisheries regulations so that fish stocks are exploited in a sustainable way to assist the long-term economic survival of the fishing industry and to protect a valuable natural food resource.

The enforcement programme includes the inspection of fishing vessels at sea and in port, inspections of fishing industry premises, fish markets and other locations around the coast and further inland by marine enforcement officers.

Inspections at sea are carried out by the Royal Navy's Fishery Protection Squadron operating under an agreement with us. There is also a programme of aerial surveillance conducted under contract by Directflight Ltd.

We operate a satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS) from our fisheries monitoring centre in Newcastle to support the monitoring, control and surveillance operations. The VMS is used to track the positions of fishing vessels exceeding 12 metres in length.

Fisheries measures that are enforced include the following:

  • access rules for foreign fishing vessels in British fishery limits
  • total allowable catches and quotas for fish stocks
  • technical conservation measures for juvenile and spawning fish, such as minimum fish sizes, mesh sizes for nets and closed areas
  • special stock recovery measures for at risk fish stocks
  • control measures for monitoring and inspecting fishing vessels and their catches, such as fishing logbooks and landing declarations
  • effort limitation measures limiting the days vessels may fish.