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The Marine and Fisheries Agency of England and Wales controls sea fishing in seas around England and Wales. Responsibilities include enforcement of sea fisheries legislation, licensing of UK commercial fishing vessels, sampling of fish catches, management of UK fisheries quotas and an advisory role and general liaison with the fishing industry.

Formerly "Marine Fisheries Agency", the Marine and Fisheries Agency has a wide range of responsibilities and undertakes delivery functions for Defra in a number of areas.

In England and Wales, the Agency has overall responsibility for the enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its associated regulations. English and Welsh waters within British Fishery Limits cover approximately 60,000 square miles (160,000 km2) and extend up to 200 miles (320 km) from the coast, or to the meridian line with other Member States' waters, where the distance between the countries is less than 200 miles (320 km).

The MFA's change of name reflects the new marine environmental responsibilities the MFA has taken on.

These new responsibilities include:

  • the marine consents and licensing work previously undertaken by core-Defra
  • advising ports and offshore oil companies and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on fisheries and marine environmental matters in the context of preparedness and response to maritime oil and chemical spills
  • approving oil treatment products for use on maritime oil spills and their specific use in shallow and coastal waters
  • issuing dredging permissions for marine minerals extraction
  • monitoring, control and enforcement of the offshore marine regulations for implementing the EU Habitats and Wildbirds Directive which will come into force later this year.

These duties fit in very well with the work the Agency already does. Bringing these functions together will deliver efficient and joined up services for management, monitoring, control and enforcement within the marine environment.


Powers of officers

Under the Sea Fisheries Act 1968, "British sea-fishery officer" has certain powers, most of which are limited to British waters - but some extend further. It is an offence to assualt or obstruct an officer.[1]

The following may exercise the powers enjoyed by a British sea-fishery officer:

  • officers of the sea-fishery inspectorates of each of the appropriate Ministers other than assistant fishery officers,
  • commissioned officers of any of Her Majesty’s ships,
  • persons in command or charge of any aircraft or hovercraft of the Royal Navy, the Army or the Royal Air Force,
  • officers of the fishery protection service of the Secretary of State or of the Scottish Ministers holding the rank of commander, first officer or second officer, or
  • other persons appointed as British sea-fishery officers by one of the appropriate Ministers.

In exercise of their powers, officers may board and stop boats, search them and detain them (and require them to return to a port).[2]

See also


External links



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