The public right to fish is a creature of the common law. It underpins the statutory regime of fishing in England, and has influenced fisheries in other common law jurisdictions. With reform of fisheries on the political agenda, it is useful to consider the nature and extent of this right. By exploring and articulating the nature and extent of the right, its role in shaping the future regulation of fisheries in British waters can be better understood. This may become a future issue, especially when attention is already being devoted to the regulation and, perhaps more importantly, to the allocation of fisheries under management regimes that rely upon rights-based mechanisms.