A quick update regarding the situation with government legislation and fishing under sail. I’ve just had a very interesting and informative conversation with Nick Wright, the District Marine Officer for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) in Plymouth. I explained our situation to him and our plans, and he made the following points:
1. Currently all commercial fishing vessels are required to have a licence AND to be registered as fishing vessels. This two part process is jointly managed and authorised by the RSS (Registry of Shipping and Seamen) in Cardiff– an MCA agency – and by the MMO.
2. However, current legislation does not allow licences to be issued to under 10 metre unpowered boats. In view of this, vessels with NO POWER UNITS on board are currently not required to hold a licence or to be registered and may proceed with commercial fishing. (Conversely, vessels with any engine on board – whether in use or not – are required to be registered and licensed).
3. Despite this, current legislation is set to change ‘in the fairly near future’ so that ALL VESSELS including the above exception will have to have a licence and be registered.
Mr Wright advised me to put our plans in writing to him at the MMO, in order to formally register an expression of commitment to such an activity or business. It sounds as though there is some possibility that as and when the legislation changes preferential consideration may be given to those parties who have already declared an interest. This could come in the form of licence entitlement but there is no decision or information about this as yet. By all accounts, an announcement will be made imminently about the planned changes. In the meantime, I’m off to write an email. Many thanks to Nick Wright for his time and advice.