Three new Codes of Practice came into force on 23rd October, which will improve safety for everyone in the fishing industry.

All three Codes have been developed with the help of the Fishing Industry Safety Group (which includes fishing federations, Seafish, the Shipbuilders and Ship Repairers Association and the Fishermen’s Mission). Each Code has been designed to improve safety through the introduction of new safety requirements, adopting technological developments and addressing recommendations from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. They include holding monthly emergency drills, life rafts for specific vessels, the fitting of radar reflectors and bilge alarms, as well as fitting of carbon monoxide monitors, EPIRBs and personal locator beacons with built-in GPS.

David Fenner from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “We have worked hard with all those connected with the fishing industry on these Codes. This is all about reducing the risk of serious accidents and deaths. Even one death is one too many.

“The new requirements for life rafts, EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons are being phased in so if your vessel is already registered as a fishing vessel, you will have until 23rd October 2019 to comply. This will allow you to apply for funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to claim back up to 60% of the cost.

“However, vessels registering as fishing vessels for the first time, or re-registering after an absence of six months or more, on or after 23rd October this year, must comply with all the requirements of the Code immediately.”

Derek Cardno from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) said: “Industry has welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the new fishing Codes. Although the new Codes will provide challenges for some fishermen to be compliant, the safety of the industry will improve.”

Robert Greenwood from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) said: “By listening and working with the industry the MCA have developed the new Codes in a practical and meaningful way. We hope this will lead not only to more people surviving accidents but also, and more importantly, to far fewer accidents too.”

The new Codes that have come into force are:

  • MSN 1871 The Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels under 15m LOA, which replaces MSN 1813;
  • MSN 1872 The Code of Practice for Fishing Vessels of 15m (LOA) to less than 24m (L); and
  • MSN 1873 The Code of Practice for Fishing Vessels of 24m (L) and over.

The MSNs highlight the new requirements in each Code, the most significant of which are in the Small Fishing Vessel Code and are set out below:

  • Monthly emergency drills are to take place;
  • Liferafts for open vessels of vessels of 7m Registered Length (L) to less than 15m (LOA) and decked vessels of 7m (L) to less than 10m (L).
  • Radar Reflectors fitted to all vessels;
  • Bilge Alarms for open vessels 7m (L) -15m (LOA);
  • EPIRBs and/or Personal Locator Beacons with a built in GPS receiver capable of transmitting the position to a satellite are required as follows:
  • An EPIRB for all vessels of 10m (L) and over (vessels that are operated single handed may replace the EPIRB with a Personal Locator Beacon);
  • One EPIRB or Personal Locator Beacons for all crew members on vessels of less than 10m (L);
  • Carbon Monoxide Monitors for vessels with enclosed spaces that contains a fired cooking or heating appliance;
  • Inspection of vessels will now take place when the vessels ownership changes;
  • Certificates to be issued when a vessel has satisfactorily undergone its Code inspection;
  • Significant repairs, modifications or alterations affecting the vessel’s dimensions, structure or stability, the removal or repositioning of machinery or engines, changes in the vessel’s mode of fishing and/or its gear or the fitting of additional equipment shall only be undertaken after consultation and with the MCA’s approval to ensure it complies with the requirements of the Code;
  • The requirements for Stability for vessels of 12m (L) to less than 15m (LOA) are defined as vessels the keel of which was laid or the construction commenced on or after 23rd October 2017, vessels joining the Register after that date or vessels significantly modified after that date.

The new requirements for liferafts, EPIRBs and Personal Locator Beacons are being phased in. If your vessel is already registered as a fishing vessel, you will have until 23rd October 2019 to comply, this will allow you to apply for EMFF funding to help claim back up to 60% of the cost. (For information on how to apply for EMFF funding please go to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/european-maritime-and-fisheries-fund-emff-apply-for-funding).

However, vessels registering as fishing vessels for the first time, or re-registering after an absence of 6 months or more, on or after 23rd October 2017, must comply with all the requirements of the Code immediately.

Please go to www.gov.uk/mca/publications and search for MSN 1871, MSN 1872 or MSN 1873 for more information.

A new Statutory Instrument has also been published which implements these Codes. This can be found at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/id/uksi/2017/943.