Fishing vessel code goes out to consultation

Published: 21/08/2020

Proposals designed to make the fishing industry safer are going out to the industry for consultation.

The proposed Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels (less than 15 metres length overall) includes a requirement for fishing boats to be inspected both in and out of the water every five years.

A fishing boat is only currently required to be inspected in the water when it first joins the Register, and after that inspected either in or out of the water once every five years.

This is part of ongoing work by the MCA and its partners in the Fishing Industry Safety Group to help reduce the number of deaths in the industry.

Between 2012-2019 there were 45 fishing fatalities which translates to a figure of 54 fishermen in every 100,000 losing their lives at work. To put it in perspective, the national average across all sectors is 0.5 fatalities per 100,000.

There are about 12,000 fishermen and 5,700 fishing vessels in the UK fleet.

David Fenner, who heads up the fishing safety section at the MCA, said: “Fishing is the one of the most dangerous industries with the rate of fatalities being approximately 100 times higher than that of the UK general workforce. These requirements are about making and bringing about changes that improve safety for those working at sea.”

The new code will address crew protection and man overboard recovery, construction, watertight and weathertight integrity, stability, machinery, electrical installations and in and out of water inspections.

A series of roadshows held across the country have already given the industry the opportunity to feedback its views about the proposals but now, the formal consultation begins and is due to last twelve weeks.

David Fenner added: “These proposed requirements will bring big changes and safety improvements. We know that the fishing industry faces a number of challenges to comply with this code but it’s been written so that responsible owners will already be complying with many aspects of it.

“Ultimately though, there have been too many deaths and we want to make sure we’ve done all we can to reduce that risk with an enforceable code. The sea is dangerous and we want to make sure we do all we can to protect those who work in it.”

This consultation closes on the 8th November 2020. Please see the consultation document for more details.