Ownership of fish and fisheries

The right to catch fish is a right associated with the ownership of the land which abuts and lies beneath the water in question.  It is one of a bundle of rights known as ‘riparian rights’.   The owner of the land abutting a river will have the exclusive right to fish that water unless they have passed this right on to someone else, either by selling it or leasing it out.

The identity of the person who enjoys the right – and what that right entitles them to do – is a common source of dispute.  Disputes also arise between those who fish opposing sides of a river, as to the extent of their rights.

In the case of still-water fisheries, ownership of the fish stocks is a common source of dispute: if you lease the right to fish, this may not entitle you to remove your fish stocks when the lease ends.

We can advise you on:

  • Who owns the right to fish
  • The extent of a right to fish
  • Disputes concerning exercise of fishing rights
  • Ownership of fish stocks in fisheries

For further information, see our Fact Sheet: Ownership of Fish and Fisheries