Exempted Activities

Information from the RYA about how the Marine Management Organisation are focusing on non-licensable activities involving recreational craft

Although many activities in the marine environment are licensable under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, many low risk or otherwise well-controlled activities were made exempt through The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) Order 2011  and further exemptions were added by The Marine Licensing (Exempted Activities) (Amendment) Order 2013.


For clubs undertaking maintenance and other works, the Exempted activities are split into three categories:

  1. Exemptions for which no notification is required
  2. Exemptions which require notification to be given to the MMO
  3. Exemptions which require approval from the MMO

The RYA has persistently lobbied the MMO since its inception to ensure that the marine licensing requirements for recreational boaters are proportionate to the scale of activity undertaken. As a result, some of the activities which exempt from a marine licence (but require notification to be given to the MMO) are:

  • Maintenance dredging (with certain conditions) of not more than 500 m3 per campaign, and no more than 1,500 m3 a year 
  • Temporary marker buoys (deployed for up to 28 days
  • The deposit or construction of pontoons by or with the consent of a harbour authority (subject to limits in size and numbers)
  • Small removals for sampling (up to 1 m3)
  • Removal of objects accidentally deposited on the seabed (items lost overboard and recovered within 12 months)

The MMO requires operators undertaking some exempted activities to notify the MMO through their Marine Case Management System. You will need to register to create an account, then once you have logged into your "workbasket" click "Application Hub" from the menu on the left of the page and then select "Notify MMO of an exempt activity". Please contact the RYA Planning and Sustainability Team on 02380 604223 or on environment@rya.org.uk if you would like help completing this form.

There is no fee for exempted activities. We have been advised by the MMO that notifications need to be submitted on an annual basis for example for laying temporary race marks, and should not be used for longer-term activities. For further information about exemptions, visit the MMO website or speak to an MMO case officer about your works on 0300 123 1032.

Washing slipways

Although the Act is all encompassing, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has taken the approach that some activities are simply not considered to be licensable. If your activity is not licensable you are not required to obtain a marine licence, but you may still need to obtain planning permission, an environmental or conservation/ wildlife consent before undertaking the works.

One such activity is the washing of slipways which the MMO does not regard as licensable, though it is worth reading the MMO guidance on cleaning slipways. However, you may require an environmental permit as anyone making a discharge to surface water (for example a river, stream, estuary or the sea), or to groundwater (including via an infiltration system) may need to apply for an environmental permit to make that discharge. If the water is clean surface run-off, for example from a clean hard standing area, you do not need a permit. More information on environmental permitting for discharges to surface water and groundwater can be found on the Environment Agency website

Further information is available on the RYA advice page for Cleaning Slipways

Conservation Sites

Management of non-licensable activities by the  Marine Management Organisation (MMO) within conservation sites centres upon the UK Marine Protected Area (MPA) network of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) and associated designated sites (SSSI, SPA and SAC). To protect habitats and species the MMO may introduce voluntary and legal measures. The RYA recognises the need to conserve and protect sites, but such measures should be proportionate and work with the boating community to ensure long term sustainable use of designated areas. Within MPAs, the MMO are currently focusing on the impact and management of: 

  • non-motorised water craft (e.g. kayaks, windsurfing, dinghies);
  • powerboating or sailing with an engine – anchoring and mooring, launching and recovery, participation;
  • sailing without an engine - anchoring and mooring, launching and recovery, participation; and
  • diving and snorkelling.

Any work being undertaken within a statutory conservation site (SSSI, SPA , SAC, etc.) may also require a consent from Natural England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.



For further information about licensable activities visit the MMO website or speak to an MMO case officer about your works on 0300 123 1032.