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Fishing vessels

Check to see if your fishing vessel needs to be registered or approved

About fishing vessels

You must register your fishing vessel or obtain approval from us if you supply any of the following for human consumption:

  • fish
  • shellfish (including shrimp, cockles, whelks, mussels)
  • fishery products

Within the UK market, food businesses and factories you supply can require evidence of your registration before accepting your catch.

Inspecting fishing vessels is not new. But it's recognised that this has historically been a low priority. Now, the direct link between fishing vessel inspection and export health certification following the UKs exit from the EU, raises the importance and urgency of the issue.

Export Health Certificates can't be issued if fish or shellfish have come from unregistered or unapproved vessels. Fishing vessels must be registered or approved and have been inspected by us. Whether you must apply for registration or approval depends on the type of fishery products you offer and the process involved. We outline this further below.


If you catch fish and/or harvest live shellfish you must register your fishing vessel. This can be done online on our Register a food business page.

Fishing vessels should be registered with, and inspected by, the Local Authority at their home port, as this is where most vessels will operate from.

The inspection is very simple. We look at:

  • hand washing facilities on board
  • the general structure
  • the handling of the catch prior to and during transfer to shore

The inspection should take no more than 20 minutes.


There are exemption from registration:

  • primary production for private domestic use
  • the domestic preparation, handling or storage of food for private domestic consumption

Registered fishing vessels are not approved for the cooking of shrimp onboard. This is a higher risk activity and requires separate approval instead, as below.

Fishing vessel approval

If you cook, cool and store shellfish onboard your fishing vessel, you must get approval from us before you do this. This is a more robust process than registration, and you'll be issued with an approval number. To apply for approval please contact us at for further information. We'll guide you through the approval process. You can also find more information on our food approval page.

Approved and registered vessels

We have a register of approved and registered vessels. You can download these below:

View registered fishing vessels list

View approved fishing vessels list