What we do
- Marine planning
- Marine licensing
- Marine nature conservation
- Fisheries management
- Marine emergencies
Marine planning is one of the major new functions of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). We will create a new marine planning system designed to bring together the environmental, social and economic needs of our seas.
The Marine Policy Statement, which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is developing in co-operation with other government departments, will provide the strategic framework for all marine plans and guide decision-making in the marine area. Formal consultation on the draft statement started in July 2010 and ended on 13 October 2010.
Marine plans that we will develop for England will guide developers about where they are likely to be able to carry out activities and may indicate the kind of conditions or restrictions that may be placed on what they do and how they do it.
All operators and regulators in an area will be expected to work to the same plan, providing transparency and consistency in decision-making.
We control the environmental, navigational, human health and other impacts of construction, deposits and removals in the marine area. We consent activities under the new marine licensing system under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, which started on 6 April 2011. The new licensing regime includes smaller port developments and tidal and wave power projects, jetties, moorings, coastal dredging, aggregate extraction and the laying of submarine cables.
- manage applications and enquiries
- determine and grant licences
- carry out inspections to ensure compliance with licences and licence conditions
- vary, revoke, suspend and transfer licences
- issue stop and emergency safety notices
- identify and carry out or orders remediation works as necessary
- issue compliance and remediation notices
- issue (and review the issuing of) notices of intent or monetary penalties
- maintain a register of licensing activities
- issue harbour orders
- license offshore energy installations with a generating power of 100 megawatts or less and declare safety zones around those installations.
We will take decisions according with marine plans unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise. It will draw on the expertise of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the Government’s main source of marine science expertise. We take advice from a range of sources including Natural England, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
It is intended to establish a network of marine protected areas by 2012. These will include European marine sites (EMSs) and new national marine conservation zones (MCZs) – a new type of designation under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. This ecologically coherent network will protect the diverse habitats and species in UK waters. The waters around Lundy Island became the first MCZ on 12 January 2010. MCZs will be designated by the Secretary of State and four regional projects have been established, involving stakeholders, which will recommend proposed sites in 2011. This process will take account of both scientific advice and socio-economic factors. All public authorities, including the MMO, have a duty to carry out their functions in a way which furthers (or at least does not hinder) the conservation objectives set for MCZs.
We have powers under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 to make byelaws for the protection of features of MCZs (and potential MCZs) and EMSs, and will consult stakeholders who could be affected by a proposed byelaw. We may issue permits to allow certain levels of activity which a byelaw would normally prohibit.
Our powers also allow us to enforce wildlife legislation that protects species in the marine environment, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 2007 and the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. We also issue wildlife licences to authorise what would otherwise be an offence under this legislation, and enforce conditions of marine licences issued for construction, deposit and extraction works in the marine area.
We are currently working on streamlining the management and regulation of England’s fisheries. The Common Fisheries Policy is the EU instrument for the management of fisheries and aquaculture.
It is the responsibility of EU member states to make sure that the rules agreed under the Common Fisheries Policy are respected.
The main areas of the Common Fisheries Policy that we are responsible for are:
- Licensing of fishing vessels
- We issue licences for English vessels in the inshore and offshore fleets. This includes creating and transferring licence entitlements and issuing variations to licences.
Further information on fishing vessel licences
- Managing fleet capacity
- We work with fisheries authorities in the devolved administrations to monitor boats entering and leaving the fleet and we produce an annual report for the European Commission. We can also issue entitlements to fish in restricted areas (such as under the EU cod recovery and Western Channel sole management arrangements), and will process transfers between vessels of entitlements to days at sea.
- Managing fisheries quotas
- We prepare and distribute quota management rules, manage international quota swaps, issue annual quota allocations to producer organisations and other groups, monitor quota uptake, manage quota allocations for the non-sector and inshore fleets and set catch limits for those fleets where necessary. We may also close fisheries to individual groups, or to the industry as a whole, to prevent overfishing of quotas.
- Managing European funding schemes
- We process European Fisheries Fund grant applications and claims in England. We also report on behalf of the UK to the EU on the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund.
Further information on funding.
- Collecting, co-ordinating and providing information
- We prepare and co-ordinate financial and technical reports on fishing activity to the European Commission, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and relevant regional fisheries management organisations, such as the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.
To collect this data, we monitor catches and fishing activity from markets, merchants, logbooks, landing declarations and sales notes. We analyse the data to inform the development of fishing policy.
Further information on fisheries statistics.
- Enforcing fisheries rules
- We ensure compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy and with quota management rules. In particular, we are required to implement the EU marketing regime by inspecting and verifying withdrawal of fish from the market, and by ensuring compliance with marketing standards through routine checks. Buyers and sellers of fish are monitored at their initial point of sale as required by EU rules.
In addition to its Common Fisheries Policy obligations, we are responsible for carrying out other activities to manage fisheries, including:
- implementing appeal tribunal decisions for restrictions on time spent at sea
- granting licences for vessels involved in the transhipment of fish (including varying, revoking or suspending licences)
- granting exemptions in specific circumstances
- enforcing national fisheries legislation
- running the Fisheries Challenge Fund and monitoring the progress of approved projects
- appointing members of inshore fisheries and conservation authorities in England.
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 streamlines and modernises enforcement powers and introduces a core set of common inspection and investigation powers across marine licensing, nature conservation and sea fisheries legislation.
These include powers to board and inspect vessels, to enter and inspect premises, dwellings and vehicles and to require the production of documents. We will also have strengthened powers to seize fish and gear and to detain fishing boats.
We have the power to institute criminal and civil proceedings where necessary.
We have a key role to play in the response to marine pollution emergencies. We can put into practice our Marine Pollution Contingency Plan to help co-ordinate responses to a major marine pollution incident. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has lead responsibility for such incidents.
We are the licensing authority for oil spill treatment products such as dispersants, sorbents, surface cleaners and bioremediation products. These products may only be used in UK waters if they have been approved by us for this purpose.