Fishing vessels that are registered in the UK are only allowed to fish if they have the necessary licence to do so and a fishing vessel licence is required (registered with the Register of Shipping and Seamen at Cardiff) to fish commercially for sea fish and land its catch for profit.
The licence specifies conditions which must be adhered to by vessel owners when fishing activity is being pursued. It authorises the sea areas in which a vessel can fish and the species of fish that can be targeted and is the mechanism of control that enables UK Fisheries Administrations to regulate fishing under the quotas (TACs) set and allocated annually to the UK under the EU Common Fisheries Policy.
Main domestic licences cover all species in the waters of ICES Divisions:
- IIa (EC Zone)
- Vb (EC Zone)
- XII (International waters), XIV (International waters)
- CECAF 34.1.1 (EC Zone)
The licence also authorises the vessel to fish for Saithe and Mackerel in ICES Divisions IIIa and IIIb,c,d (EC Zone) and Sole in ICES Division II (EC Zone).
Separate licences, known as external waters licences, are issued for sea areas other than those listed above.