Vessels fishing commercially and selling their catch for profit can only do so under the authority of a licence issued by one of the Fisheries Administrations in the UK. In order to obtain one, the vessel must first be officially registered with the Registry of Shipping and Seamen (RSS). Vessels operating from Scotland obtain licences from the Scottish Government's Marine Directorate.
A fishing vessel licence authorises registered fishing vessels to fish in specified sea areas for sea fish. The licence enables Fisheries Administrations to control fishing, so that the UK does not exceed the TACs and quotas set annually under the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Licensing arrangements are complex and may include specific conditions and requirements, such as arrangements for the landing of stocks.