Overview / Significance
- Statute Prerogative Regis, 17 Edward II (AD 1324) states that although
the Crown has sovereign dominion over the sea around the British Isles, it has no general
property in the fish and marine mammals in it except for cetaceans and sturgeon. These are
Royal Fish and belong to the Crown. An exception to this is if they become
stranded or their bodies are washed ashore within the limits of a Manor, such as the Duchy
of Cornwall, in which case title passes to the Lord of the Manor. The chief requirement of
the Royal Prerogative nowadays is that stranded Royal Fish are reported to the
Receiver of Wreck who will then pass the information to the Natural History Museum, London
and other relevant bodies. The Receiver of Wreck can be contacted via the local
- In Scotland, "northern bottlenose whales", "long-finned pilot
whales" and "cetaceans less than 7.5 metres (25 feet) long" are not classed
as Royal Fish.
- In consultation with the Receiver of Wreck, local authorities may deal with the
collection and disposal of carcasses of Royal Fish.
- For beached cetaceans within the limits of a Manor (e.g. the Duchy of Cornwall), title
passes to the Lord of the Manor.
- In 1990 the UK government instigated a project to co-ordinate the reporting, recording,
post-mortem examination and tissue sampling of marine mammals stranded and incidentally
caught in England and Wales. This was extended to cover Scotland in 1992. The co-ordinator
for these projects should be contacted in the event of an animal stranding. The Natural
History Museum, London has been recording strandings since 1911 and continues to receive
reports through the Receiver of Wreck and Strandings Co-ordinators.