The NFFO was established in 1977 during the negotiations for the 1983 Common Fisheries Policy agreement. The paramount importance of being able to speak with a single industry voice has remained the defining feature of the NFFO’s existence.

Initially, the NFFO was formed and centred on the North East of England with a few outposts on the West coast and South coast. Gradually the NFFO’s membership was extended to cover the whole of the English coast, Welsh coast, Northern Ireland and the Channel Isles. The internationalisation of the fleets means that the Federation’s membership also embraces vessels in Anglo Dutch, Anglo Spanish and Anglo-Icelandic ownership.

In 1984 the NFFO established a commercial division – NFFO Services Limited – and this provides valuable income to the industry by securing guard-ship and liaison work with offshore developers. A dual role is served – co-existence with other offshore industries and a useful income stream to the industry and the Federation.