Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a permit to land lobster, crab, velvet crab or whelk?

Yes, you need a permit if you are going to take any edible crab, velvet crab, lobster or whelk from the NEIFCA District.

How do I get a permit?

You can apply online for a fishing permit:

Apply online for a permit (external website)

Alternatively, you can download an application form in Word document format:

Commercial shellfish permit hard copy application form

Commercial shellfish application form (45kb Word Document opens in a new window)

Hobby shellfish permit hard copy application form

Hobby application form (Word Document 46kb opens in a new window)

Trawl permit hard copy application form

Trawl application form (Word Document 40kb opens in a new window)

Email your completed application form to ne-ifca@eastriding.gov.uk

Alternatively, you can post to

Town Hall
Quay Road
East Riding of Yorkshire
YO16 4LP

What permits are available?

A full shellfish permit is for vessels that are fully licensed and hold an additional entitlement to catch shellfish.  For more information about a shellfish entitlement contact the Marine Management Organisation (external website)Minimum sizes apply.  

A limited shellfish permit is for any individual, whether a vessel owner or not, who does not qualify for the criteria of a shellfish entitlement permit. A limited shellfish permit applies to unlicensed hobby fishermen, bait collection, shore gathering and recreational fishermen.  This allows you to use up to 10 pots or 100 metres of net to land 10 crabs, 2 lobsters and 30 whelks per calendar day. Minimum sizes apply.  

A trawl permit is for all vessels regardless of whether they are registered or not but must fall under 18.3 metres overall length and 400 KW engine power.  Minimum sizes apply.  

Commercial sub-tidal / inter-tidal sea bass permits.  Applicants will be invited to apply after 1 May 2012.  Please note that applicants must demonstrate that they have caught and sold sea bass between 2009 and 2011.  Evidence includes copies of sale notes, invoices and receipts. 

How old do I have to be to have a Limited Shellfish Permit?

You have to be 14 years of age.

How many lobsters, crabs and whelks can I land on a limited shellfish permit?

You can land 10 crabs, 2 lobsters and 30 whelks per calendar day on a limited shellfish permit.

What size shellfish can I land?

See Minimum Landing Sizes

What size fish can I land?

See Minimum Landing Sizes

How many pots can I use?

A limited shellfish permit allows you to use up to 10 pots.  When you apply for a permit you will be issued with 10 tags; a tag must be attached to your pot at all times.  

Can I use a net with my Limited Shellfish Permit?

Yes, when catching shellfish, a maximum of 100 metres of net can be used.  If using a net you cannot work pots on the same day.

Where should I keep my permit?

You should display your permit either in your boathouse window or on your person. If you are a diver, you should keep your permit with your belongings.  You must present your permit if asked to by our officers.

How much does a permit cost?

There is no charge for a permit.

How long does my permit last?

A limited shellfish permit and a full shellfish permit are valid until 31 December of the current year.

A Trawl permit is valid until the 30 June of the current year.

Please note you will be sent a renewal form prior to your permit expiring.

Please note, that if you do not renew your permit before it expires and you continue to fish or take, lobster, crab, velvet crab or whelk from the fishery, you will be liable to prosecution.

Where can I fish for Cockles?

All cockle fisheries located within the NEIFCA area are currently closed due to low stock levels.  When cockle fisheries are open, cockles can only be taken under authorisation of a permit.

For more information see byelaw XXIV Humber Estuary Cockle Fishery Byelaw (pdf 638kb opens in new window)

Tees Mouth and Cleveland Emergency Cockle Byelaw Regulation (pdf 883kb opens in a new window).

Can I use a trawl net?

Yes, providing your vessel holds a current trawl permit. All vessels are eligible regardless of whether they are registered or not but must fall under 18.3 metres overall length and 400 KW engine power.  Apply for a Trawl Permit online (external website). 

Can I net for sea bass from the shore?

Any intertidal/Subtidal netting is strictly managed under a restricted permit scheme between the months of October and April. Only five intertidal and five subtidal Sea Bass permits are issued annually to applicants under strict criteria. This scheme only applies to the Holderness coast of East Riding of Yorkshire.

Can I fish at Flamborough Head?

It depends on the method of fishing. All vessels can work pots, nets and lines in accordance with relevant regulations. Only vessels currently holding a special permit are permitted to trawl in the Flamborough head area, outside a designated prohibited trawling area.

Can I fish in the Flamborough Head No Take Zone?

No fishing activities of any description are permitted within the boundaries of a designated No Take Zone, which runs from Sewerby Steps to Danes Dyke and seaward 700 m from the cliff face.

Who has to complete DEFRA Shellfish Catch returns?

Over 10 Metre vessels/vessels with a PO

Commercial shellfish permit holders should complete a form for every month of the year and return to the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority office by the end of the following month. This includes Nil-Returns. NEIFCA will supply you with Monthly DEFRA catch returns when you renew your permit at the end of the year.

Under 10 Metre vessels

Commercial shellfish permit holders should complete a catch return from their monthly shellfish activity return pack. All monthly returns including nil returns should be completed and submitted to your nearest local Marine Management Organisation (MMO) office, no later than the 15th day of the following calendar month. Please contact your local MMO office for additional return forms.  Please note that MMO regional offices forward the returns to NEIFCA.  

Note - Defra shellfish catch return forms do not apply to limited shellfish permit holders.

Where can I use a long line?

NEIFCA have no restrictions where you can use a long line.  You must however be aware of local government byelaws relating to the seashore; these usually state that you must not fish from the seashore in such a manner as to cause danger, obstruction or annoyance to any person using the seashore.

Where can I use a trotline?

NEIFCA have no restrictions where you can use a trotline.  However, you must not fish in such a manner as to cause danger, obstruction or annoyance to any person.

Do I need a permit for recreational rod fishing?

No, you do not need a NEIFCA permit if rod fishing.  If you use pots over the harbour wall you will need a limited shellfish permit.

What are the rules and regulations when using nets?

If you intend to use a mobile or drift net, you are governed by European Union regulations. 

Detailed fixed netting (or engine) governs the use of fixed nets regulations and it is recommended that you seek advice specific to the region you intend to fish in.

Fixed Engine Byelaw (pdf 2mb opens in a new window) 

What mesh size can I use?

This depends on what you are targeting.  Please contact your local Marine Management Organisation office (external website).

Can I use edible crab for bait?

Edible crab cannot be used for bait whatever its condition or size.

What area does the North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority cover?

The district of the Authority extends six nautical miles seaward from the baselines, from the River Tyne to a point drawn True East from ‘Haile Sand Fort’ on the North East Lincolnshire Authority boundary, close to Humberston, on the South Bank of the Humber Estuary. The District also encompasses all estuarine areas, landward to tidal limits, occurring within the boundaries of member Local Authorities.   

What Local Authority’s occur within North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority jurisdiction?

The Authority comprises of eleven coastal Local Authorities. 
  Local Authority 
Durham County Council Logo

Durham County Council (external website)

East Riding of Yorkshire Council Logo

East Riding of Yorkshire Council (external website)

Hartlepool Borough Council


Hartlepool Borough Council (external website)

Hull City Council


Hull City Council (external website)

North Yorkshire County Council


North Yorkshire County Council (external website)

North East Lincolnshire Council


North East Lincolnshire Council (external website)

North Lincolnshire Council

North Lincolnshire Council (external website)

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council (external website)

South Tyneside Council


South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council (external website)

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Stockton on Tees Borough Council (external website)

Sunderland City Council

Sunderland City Council (external website)


How many members does the Authority have?

The Authority comprises thirteen representatives from eleven coastal local authorities within its area, together with fourteen General members by the Marine Management Organisation and one member appointed by each of the Marine Management Organisation, the Environment Agency and Natural England. The total membership of the Authority is thirty.  

How do I measure the size of a lobster?

You can purchase a measuring gauge from Alexander Pollock www.cncengravers.com (external website)  

The lobster is measured form the back of the eye socket to the end of its carapace.

See diagram attached (pdf 65kb opens in a new window)

Where is it mandatory to use escape gaps?

This new regulation now requires the mandatory installation of escape gaps in all pots, both commercial and recreational, worked within an area stretching from the South Pier of the River Tyne to a line drawn 035 degrees from the base of Steetly Pier, to the North of Hartlepool. The seaward limit of the new regulation extends to three nautical miles from coastal baseline points.

Pot Escape Gap
Escape gap in a pot

The new regulation requires:

Each parlour / section of the pot must contain an unobstructed escape gap of 80 mm x 46 mm – installed in the wall of the pot with the longitudinal access parallel to base of the pot and within 50mm the from the base of the pot - as demonstrated in the photograph right.

Authorised Escape Gap Supplier - GT Products 01243 555303 www.gtproductsmarine.com (external link)

Why is it beneficial to use an escape gap?

The purpose of using Escape Gaps is to reduce undersize by-catch, damage associated with discards and the illegal retention of juveniles.  This will enhance the spawning stock biomass and reduce discard mortality rates for crustacean species within the area.

It is the intention that the Lobster conservation Byelaw will be reviewed and considered by North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority within three years following the date of the Byelaw coming into force with a view to the provisions being extended throughout its entire jurisdiction.


The information on this page is provided to assist the public and it is not a full statement of law. Please refer to the relevant EU legislation, UK Acts of Parliament, Statutory Instruments and NEIFCA byelaws that may be amended from time to time.