man in comms room

Our services

Our services

Wreck reporting
Report royal fish
Public events
Report ordnance
Register a beacon

Wreck reporting

What you need to report

If you recover wreck material, for example parts of a ship or its cargo, you must report it to the Receiver of Wreck within 28 days.

If you do not report it within 28 days, you could be fined £2,500. Reporting wreck material gives the legal owner the opportunity to have their property returned.

What counts as wreck material?

Wreck material includes things found on the seashore or in tidal water that have come from a ship, aircraft or hovercraft (vessels). This could be parts of the vessel, its cargo or equipment.

There are 4 main categories:

  • Flotsam - goods that have remained afloat after being lost from a ship that has sunk
  • Jetsam - things that have been cast overboard from a ship that was in danger of sinking 
  • Derelict - property that has been abandoned at sea without hope of recovering it, which could be vessels or cargo 
  • Lagan - goods that have been buoyed (so they can be recovered) before being cast overboard from a ship that then sinks

Wreck material does not normally include:

  • Boats that have come off their moorings
  • Buoys, like marker, data, or mooring buoys (unless part of fishing equipment)
  • Fishing nets

If what you’ve found is not from a vessel, it might be officially defined as treasure. You must report treasure to the local coroner within 14 days of finding it.

Contact the Receiver of Wreck if you’re not sure whether something is wreck material.

Reporting wreck material

To report wreck visit Report wreck material - GOV.UK.


ROW Staff Dredging
USS Osprey bell
Items found on sunken ship
Rusty wheel

Report royal fish

What are Fishes Royal?

Fishes Royal (or Royal Fish) are deceased cetaceans and sturgeons that have been stranded on the UK’s shores. They are called Royal Fish because they are a Royal Prerogative and the Crown (or grantee) has the right to claim them. 

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Royal Fish include all whales, porpoises, dolphins, and sturgeons. In Scotland, Royal Fish only include whales over 25ft long.

History and the Fishes Royal Prerogative

The Crown’s right to claim Royal Fish dates back to the 12th century when a stranded cetacean would have been a valuable commodity. Today, in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Fishes Royal Prerogative is administered on behalf of the Crown by HM Coastguard’s Receiver of Wreck. 

What should I do if I find a deceased Royal Fish?

If you find a deceased whale, porpoise, dolphin or sturgeon on the coast please contact the Receiver of Wreck on 0203 817 2575.

In a coastal emergency, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

What happens to Royal Fish after I’ve reported them?

By reporting Royal Fish to HM Coastguard, you are supporting scientific research into the health of whale, porpoise, dolphin, and sturgeon populations as well as the wider marine ecosystem. As part of reporting, you may be asked to provide a photo and note the location, condition, and type of stranded animal found.

After a Royal Fish is reported, the Receiver of Wreck works to ensure the relevant authorities are informed and that a post-mortem can be performed if appropriate. After this, the carcass is removed and disposed of in line with relevant health and environmental legislation. In particularly remote locations where there is no health hazard, the carcass may be left to degrade naturally.

What should I do if I find a stranded marine animal that’s still alive?

If you find a stranded and alive cetacean, sturgeon, turtle, shark or marine mammal DO NOT touch it. 

Please notify the Coastguard as soon as possible for advice.

There are a range of organisations you can reach out to for help or advice, such as the Cetacean Strandings Investigations Programme or the DAERA Marine Wildlife team (NI).


Public events

Keeping safe at the coast, knowing the dangers and what to look out when around water are important and potentially life-saving lessons for children. 

We’re always happy help educate younger audiences or share advice on the importance of water safety, whether that’s in a classroom, youth group or kids club.

If you’d like HM Coastguard to make a public visit with your group and give tips on how to stay safe in, on and around the water, simply get in touch by emailing

You can also visit our safety resources section where you can find free downloadable assets for kids and adults. These resources contain important safety advice, as well as more information on HM Coastguard. 

Come see us

Our incredible coastguard teams love nothing more than talking to you and we’re often at public events and shows, so keep an eye out for us if you’re heading to an event soon. 

If you have any questions about what it’s like to be a coastguard, how to stay safe on a visit to the coast or just want to see some of things we get up to in action, be sure to stop by! There might even be a few things to take home with you too...


Cardiff pride event
Coastguard event
Search and rescue message on van
Event for school

Report ordnance

Always be mindful of objects you may discover on our beaches.

Our shores are filled with history, but remnants from the past can still sometimes wash up on our shores today. 

If you find something on the beach that’s an unusual size or shape, especially if it’s rusty, it could be an unexploded ordnance.

What should I do if I find something that looks unusual on the beach?

While it is very rare to find unexploded ordnance on a visit to the beach, bad weather and high tides can expose these objects. It’s important to be cautious, as ordnance comes in all shapes and sizes.

If you do come across something on the beach that you’re unsure of or suspect could be unexploded ordnance, please don’t touch it or move it. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard - we will take immediate steps with the relevant partner authorities to keep people safe and ensure the item in question is disposed of correctly.


Ordnance on beach
Ordnance on beach
Ordnance on beach
Bomb disposal unit

Register a beacon

You must register your 406MHz beacon with us to ensure we have reliable information which can help us to locate you if you ever get into distress at sea. Ensuring your beacon is registered could ultimately help save a life in an emergency situation. This applies to all EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons).




What is a beacon?

If you fall overboard or your boat is suddenly lost, emergency beacons can assist in your rescue.  

These devices alert someone that you may need rescuing using alerting technology. There are several types of emergency radio devices available and deciding which one will be best for you will depend on your needs and how it will be used. Watch our video to find out more about the differences between a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB):

More advice on the different options available can be found in our Personal Emergency Radio Devices leaflet.


How do I register my beacon?

Our secure online Beacon Registry makes it easy for you to register your beacon and ensure your ownership information is up to date, whatever the size of your vessel. 

Before you start, you’ll need to know:

  • the beacon Hexadecimal Identification (HEX ID) or Unique Identifying Number (UIN), manufacturer serial number and model
  • an emergency contact for search and rescue authorities

  • if you have a vessel - your vessel name, number, call sign, Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, and details of the radio communications equipment you use
  • if you have an aircraft - your aircraft make, model, registration mark, and details of the radio communications equipment you use

Alternatively, you can contact the UK Beacon Registry team via or by calling 020 3817 2006 (available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, excluding public holidays).

Under the Merchant Shipping (EPIRB Registration) Regulations, it is mandatory for all EPIRBs to be registered with a competent authority.


Fisherman holding personal locator beacon
Life ring
Examples of beacons in different shapes and sizes
Reegan was the first fisherman I’ve taken out of the water who was conscious and alive, but he was also the first fisherman I took out of the water wearing a lifejacket.
Coastguard helicopter winchman, Mark ‘Spike’ Hughes
Fisherman holding up his PFD after rescue, stood in front of a HM Coastguard helicopter
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