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 and extend up to from the coast, or to the
meridian line with other Member States' waters, where the distance
between the countries is less than .
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
, "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.
The following may exercise the powers enjoyed by a British
- 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