Policy Statements

Sanction Policy Statement

Provided by Northumberland IFCA


This policy will serve as a policy statement in which NIFCAs sets out the general principles we intend to follow in relation to prosecuting inshore fisheries offences. However, it is not intended to explain legislation or the legal process.

The objective of IFCA enforcement

As managers of inshore fisheries resources, our aim is to make sure those regulated take appropriate action to comply with relevant NIFCA byelaws and the legislation which NIFCAs will have a share in enforcing. The purpose of prosecution is to punish and deter, as well as to ensure that any benefits from non-compliance are removed and to reassure those who are complying.

Therefore, NIFCA sanctions are (where possible) aimed at:

  • changing the behaviour of the offender;

  • deterring those who are not caught or who are minded to offend;

  • eliminating any financial gain or benefit from non-compliance;

  • reassuring those that comply with rules;

  • being proportionate to the nature of the offence and the harm caused; and

  • deterring future non-compliance.

NIFCA believes that prevention is better than cure and offers advice and guidance to those regulated to help with compliance and to cut down on the amount of unnecessary paperwork and cost. We work with other government regulators such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, Marine Management Organisation and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and non-governmental organisations in order to achieve our goals of managing inshore fisheries.

Acting in accordance with best practice

NIFCA will bear in mind the Principles of Good Regulation when devising, enforcing and reviewing regulations. These are:

  • Proportionate: Enforcement action appropriate to the risk posed.

  • Accountable: Justifying decisions and subject to public scrutiny.

  • Consistent: IFCAs rules and standards (where appropriate) are joined-up and implemented in a consistent way.

  • Transparent: Enforcement action that is open and transparent.

  • Targeted: Enforcement activity focused on the threats, by applying risk-based approaches.

The decision to prosecute – The decision is fundamentally determined by the severity of the offence, which is measured by a number of factors. When considering the suitability of a case for prosecution, the following tests are applied:

Evidential test – This test considers whether there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and that the evidence can be used and is reliable.

Public interest test – Where the evidential test is satisfied, IFCAs may go on to consider public interest factors to determine whether to prosecute an offender or consider whether an alternative course of action may be suitable.

Other considerations when considering whether or not to prosecute

  • whether or not the offence was committed whilst the offender was under an order of the court, and whether, or not previous convictions or cautions are relevant to the present offence;

  • evidence that the offence was premeditated;

  • whether the offence was foreseeable;

  • the level of intent to commit the offence;

  • whether or not a voluntary disclosure of a sea fisheries offence had been made before an IFC authority had any suspicions of it, and;

  • assess and account for the level of damage.

Policy Statement On Guidance

provided by Northumberland IFCA


NIFCA provide advice and guidance to help those regulated to comply with inshore fisheries regulation and protect the marine environment. NIFCA members and staff strive to work together to regulate a wide range of fishing activities covering both commercial and recreational fishing out to six nautical miles and inland to the IFCA district boundaries.

We provide advice and guidance on our website, for example: linked to information for anglers, frequently asked questions, limits of the district, publications. We ensure that our guidance is produced using plain language and builds on existing good practice to improve services. Our primary aim is to help those regulated understand what they need to do and how to do it.

Developing guidance based on understanding those who use it

We understand that good guidance requires a detailed understanding of the target audience and that different sectors may have different guidance needs. Consultation is essential to producing good practical guidance. To be effective guidance requires input from stakeholders who can offer insightful and first hand expertise. Therefore, NIFCA aims to provide guidance that is structured around the user’s ways of working, helping them see how the regulation fits into their regulated activities.

Simple, clear and easy to understand

Our goal is to provide guidance that is written in simple, clear, language without without unnecessary jargon or acronyms. We strive to produce guidance that is easy to understand and assist compliance; however, we do not gloss over technical issues and if necessary will include a comprehensive glossary of explanation.

We work to ensure that guidance contains statements of what users can expect from it and the limitations of such guidance, for example, where circumstances may not be covered by guidance and where it may be necessary to seek further advice.

Timely and accessible

We aim to give those regulated time to prepare for regulation, therefore we will aim to provide guidance on request and on our website before regulation comes into force and ensure that such guidance is easily accessible.

Up to date and fit for purpose

Our aim is to review guidance to ensure that it is up-to-date and works for the user, therefore, guidance when possible and relevant will cite the date when it was prepared and when it is due for review. IFC district committees work together) whenever practical) to provide a coordinated approach to advice and guidance and the sharing of best practise.

Face to face sharing of knowledge and experience

As professional bodies IFCAs aim to broaden the skills of their officers so that they can better provide advice and guidance that is based on the experiences and needs of differing sectors. This proactive approach helps to reduce burdens on those regulated of seeking information about, and complying with, the regulatory requirements across their activities.

Finding further guidance

We provide up-to-date information on the regulatory changes and events affecting our stakeholders in the News section of this web site. Our News section is kept under constant review and will be updated when necessary.