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Licensable activities and exemptions

A marine licence is only required for activities involving a deposit or removal of a substance or object in the UK marine area, as defined in section 42 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. Broadly, this is the area below the mean high water springs mark and in any tidal river to the extent of the tidal influence. In some cases a marine licence will be required for activities outside UK waters. For example, where the activity takes place from a British vessel or where the vessel was loaded in UK waters. Section 66 of the act lists the types of activity that are licensable.

You are likely to need a marine licence if you are depositing or removing any substance or object either in the sea, on or under the sea bed from a vehicle, vessel, aircraft, marine or land-based structure or floating container. Any form of marine dredging is also licensable. You will only need a licence for those activities listed in section 66 of the act.

In determining all marine licence applications the MMO must have regard to the following:

  • the need to protect the environment
  • the need to protect human health
  • the need to prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea

Common marine activities include:

Contact information

Marine Licensing Team
Marine Management Organisation
Lancaster House
Hampshire Court
Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel: 0300 123 1032
Fax: 0191 376 2681
Email: marine.consents@

Submit a licence enquiry