Verbal warning

A verbal warning is issued when a minor infringement of fisheries legislation is detected. This approach is used to remind a person of relevant legislation and is recorded. In many instances, it will be followed up by an advisory letter to emphasise what was said and to provide relevant information relating to the breached law(s). If a person commits another similar offence, the individual involved may face a higher level of enforcement action.

Advisory letter

Where it is believed that a breach of the law has been committed and it is appropriate to do so, an advisory letter may be sent reminding a person of the need to obey the law.

Official written warning

Where there is evidence that an offence has been committed but it is not appropriate to implement formal legal proceedings, an official written warning letter may be sent to a regulated person, outlining the alleged offence, when it occurred and the regulation which was breached. It will also set out that it is a matter which could be subject to prosecution should the same behaviour occur in the future.


A formal caution may be offered by the Authority as the most appropriate means to deal with an offence, particularly where there is no identified financial gain. A caution is only offered when the Authority is prepared to instigate legal proceedings and prosecute should the offer not be accepted.

Financial administrative penalty

The Authority may issue a financial administrative penalty (FAP), the level of which may be up to £10,000, as an alternative to criminal prosecution in certain circumstances. A FAP is only offered when the Authority is prepared to instigate legal proceedings and prosecute should the offer not be accepted.


The ability to undertake criminal prosecutions is essential for discouraging serious non-compliance. The purpose is to secure conviction and ensure that an offender can be punished by a court at an appropriate level, thus acting as a deterrent to any future wrong doing to both the convicted offender and others who may engage in similar criminal behaviour. A prosecution may be used where it is felt that the matter is so serious that it is not suitable for another form of disposal such as a financial administrative penalty, caution or warning. In order to prosecute, the Authority has to be satisfied that there is both sufficient evidence of the alleged offence and a clear public interest in taking criminal proceedings. The Authority will only commence a prosecution if it is satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge, given the available evidence. If a case does not pass this test it will not go ahead, regardless of how important or serious it may be.

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