Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Inland fisheries licensing

What you must do

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland if you fish commercially in freshwater loughs and rivers, other than in the Foyle and Carlingford catchments, you must have:

  • the permission of the statutory owners of fishing rights
  • a fishing licence from the Department of Arts, Culture and Leisure (DACL)

Department of Arts, Culture and Leisure: Angling pages

If you fish commercially in the cross-border catchments in the Londonderry and Newry area you should contact the Loughs Agency for permission.

Loughs Agency: Angling information


In Scotland, the rights to fish for salmon are all privately owned. The rights to fish for freshwater fish are also privately owned, except in certain circumstances, such as where a river is both tidal and navigable. Even then, anglers must have a right of access to the banks or they must fish from a boat. In some areas, such as freshwater lochs in Orkney, no one person holds the rights to fish and there is a general right to fish for trout and other species such as eels.

If you fish for salmon and sea trout you must have the legal right, or written permission from a person having such a right, otherwise you may be committing a criminal offence.

If you fish for all other freshwater fish you must have the right or written permission, otherwise you may be committing a civil offence or in some cases a criminal offence.

Given the varied situation with respect to ownership and permissions, you should seek local advice before fishing on inland waters in Scotland.

The District Salmon Fisheries Boards (DSFB) were established to protect, preserve and develop salmon fisheries in Scotland. DSFB do not issue licences but are a useful contact for commercial freshwater salmon and trout fishermen and trout water owners.

The DSFB can advise on legal angling and netting seasons and other restrictions imposed on the catching and trading of salmon and trout in Scotland.

Association of Salmon Fishery Boards

Marine Scotland: Salmon and recreational fisheries

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