Catalogue description Records of Fisheries

Details of Division within MAF
Reference: Division within MAF
Title: Records of Fisheries

Records of the Fisheries Department and Divisions, including records of the Board of Trade's Fisheries Department.

Early records are in MAF 12.

Files on the Herring Industry Board are in MAF 41 and MAF 71.

Icelandic fishing dispute records are in MAF 204 and MAF 209.

Records of the Sea Fish Commission are in MAF 29 and of the White Fish Commission in MAF 23.

Records of the Fleck Committee are in MAF 382.

Records of the Fisheries Laboratories are in MAF 336, MAF 339 and MAF 342.

Records of the Fisheries Experimental Section, Conwy, are in MAF 417.

Marine protection papers are in MAF 389.

Records of the Fisheries Divisions III and IV relating to the restructuring of the industry are in MAF 452.

Records of the Fisheries Research relating to the Development Board, Research Stations and Vessels are in MAF 453.

Sea Fish Conservation Bill (EFC series) files are in MAF 638. Other fisheries legislation files are within MAF 474.

Salmon, Freshwater Fish and Whaling Division (DWW series) files are in MAF 640. Salmon Advisory Committee (SAC series) files are in MAF 677. Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (SSF series) files are in MAF 661.

Control and Enforcement of Fisheries Policy (CRL series) files are in MAF 641.

UK Fishing Harbours and Grants (GHF series) files are in MAF 642.

Processing and Marketing of Fish; EC International and Domestic Considerations (TMF file series) files are MAF 656.

Marine Management Organisation: Fisheries Division: Registered files (MA prefix) are in MAF 671.

Liaison with Sea Fisheries Committees and Marine Nature Reserves (FML series) files are in MAF 681.

Review of fisheries management (TRT series) files are in MAF 687.

Fish and shellfish: cultivation and disease (FCD series) files are in MAF 688.

Marine Management Organisation: Fisheries Division: Registered files (MA prefix) are in MAF 671.

Sea Fish Industry Authority: Registered files (SFZ prefix) are in MAF 672.

Date: 1837-2011
Separated material:

Sound recordings made by the Ministry fisheries officers on board UK fisheries protection vessels during the Icelandic Fishing Disputes (1972-1976) of radio communications between Icelandic naval, Royal Navy and UK fishing vessels are held by the National Sound Archive (reference G31/01/01-07).

Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, Fisheries Department, 1903-1919

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2001-

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Fisheries Department, 1919-1955

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Directorate of Fisheries Research, 1981-1997

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Department, 1955-1957

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Division I, 1957-2001

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Division II, 1957-2001

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Division III, 1972-2001

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Division IV, 1976-1985

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Division IV, 1994-2001

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Fisheries Research, 1976-1981

Physical description: 29 series
Administrative / biographical background:

Fisheries Department: Functions

Since 1903, all fisheries functions have been performed by a separate Fisheries Department within the Board and succeeding Ministries. At first its functions were mainly regulatory, its powers over deep-sea fishing being extremely limited. From the beginning, however, it was concerned with the collection and dissemination of information and, increasingly, with research into both freshwater and deep sea fishing.

Today it is responsible for the promotion, protection and regulation of sea fishing operations, nationally and internationally, with the regulation and conservation of inshore fisheries and with salmon and freshwater fisheries.

A committee headed by Lord Fleck inquired into the size and structure of the United Kingdom's fishing industry in 1957-1961, and following the committee's report the Sea Fish Industry Act 1962 was passed, allowing for a further ten years' financial support for the industry, through operational subsidies and grants and loans to build and modernise vessels.

Further measures to support the industry were included in the Sea Fish Industry Act 1970. The department maintains close liaison with the fishing industry on the coast and deals with problems affecting supplies, transport and the general welfare of fishermen and the industry. It is also responsible for research work and for collecting and publishing statistics about commercial sea fisheries.

It has general supervisory powers over the activities of the White Fish Authority and the Herring Industry Board and is directly responsible for the administration of fishery subsidies covering white fish and herring. Until 1960 the United Kingdom had a sizeable whaling industry, which was jointly supervised by the department and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. The department continues to liaise with the International Whaling Commission.

A Herring Industry Board was established under the Herring Industry Act 1935, with powers to develop and regulate the herring industry, to carry out schemes for market development and research and to provide financial assistance by way of loans for construction and reconditioning of boats and acquisition of nets and gear.

The Fisheries Department also has responsibility for various government fisheries laboratories.

Fisheries Divisions: Organisation

A divisional organisation first emerged in the department in 1957 with the department being divided into first two and then (1972) three numbered divisions. Of these, Fisheries Division I dealt with research and development, salmon and fresh-water fishing, marine pollution, the local Sea Fisheries Committees, and, when the industry developed, fish farming. Division II handled the organisation and structure of the sea fishing industry (including shellfish), marketing of fish and the fish trade, harbours, statistics and economic policy relating to fisheries.

Division III handled legal matters, including the law of the sea, national fishing limits and fisheries protection, the conservation of fish and whale stocks, and from 1973 the EEC common fisheries policy and community fish catch quotas.

In 1976 there was a reorganisation of the divisional structure, responsibility for harbours and shellfish passing to Division I (though harbours returned to Division II in 1978) and responsibility for the structure of the industry passing from Division II to a new Fisheries Division IV, which in 1978 assumed responsibility for the fisheries protection services and quotas. Responsibility for whales passed to Division III, and by 1983 Division IV also had responsibility for salmon and fresh-water fisheries, shellfish, fish farming and the sea fisheries committees.

In 1985 the number of divisions was reduced to three, and the accumulated functions of Division IV were reallocated to the remaining three divisions. At the same time, responsibility for research and development was removed from Division I and a new Directorate of Fisheries Research was established; and likewise a Marine Environmental Protection Division was set up.

The Fisheries Laboratories at Lowestoft and Burnham-on-Crouch, the Fisheries Radiobiological Laboratory at Lowestoft, the Fisheries Experiment Station, Conwy, the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory, London, and the Fish Diseases Laboratory, Weymouth were grouped administratively within the Fisheries Department in a Directorate of Fisheries Research in 1981, to provide research support to the four administrative fisheries divisions.

In 1994, the number of Fisheries Divisions was again expanded to four: Division I handled structural policy for the UK fishing fleet, including decommissioning, EU funding and state aid; Division II dealt with shellfish, fish farming, trade and marketing issues, hygiene and statistics; Division III was responsible for the common fisheries policy, quotas and conservation of stocks, the law of the sea and fishery limits and the sea fisheries committees; Division IV administered the UK fishing quota, licensing of vessels and enforcement policy.

Responsibility for salmon and inland fisheries and whaling and liaison with the National Rivers Authority (later the Environment Agency) passed to a Salmon, Whaling and Inland Fisheries Division in the Environment Policy Department.

Fish Research Laboratories

The idea of a government laboratory concerned with fish preservation was first proposed in 1918 by the Fish Preservation Committee of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The Torry Research Station was opened at Aberdeen in 1929 by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, with the financial assistance of the Empire Marketing Board. The station passed under the control of the Ministry of Technology in 1965, to the Department of Trade and Industry in 1970, and to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1972. The station's purpose was the study of preservation methods for fish and, increasingly from 1979, contract work investigating the freezing and preservation of other foodstuffs. The station was closed in August 1996, its functions being split and in part privatised: some passed to the University of Aberdeen, others to the Scottish Agricultural and Biological Research Institute (the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen), others to the Scottish Office's Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department Marine Laboratory, while a few functions reverted to the Ministry's Central Science Laboratory.

The Ministry also conducts research into live fish stocks, for which the main centre is the Fisheries Laboratory, Lowestoft, Suffolk, which studies the exploitation of commercial fisheries. A subsidiary site, the Fisheries Radiobiological Laboratory at Hamilton Dock, Lowestoft, conducted monitoring of radioactive discharges into fresh and sea water from various nuclear industrial sites until it was closed in 1981. Research on inshore and shellfish fisheries is carried out at the Fisheries Laboratory, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, and the Fisheries Experiment Station, Conwy, North Wales.

Research into diseases of fish is carried out at the Fish Diseases Laboratory, Weymouth, Dorset. For many years, the Ministry maintained a Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Laboratory in the basement of its headquarters building in Whitehall, Londom, but this was closed in 1981. In April 1997 the remaining laboratories were established as an executive agency, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), with the headquarters at Lowestoft, at which time CEFAS assumed responsibility for MAFF records relating to the operations of the various research stations.

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