Marcus Coleman Blog - August 2017

Posted on 07 August 2017

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm going to bang on some more about collaboration being the key to success for the UK Seafood industry. Recently, we've all read the fantastic news from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) announcing that North Sea cod is now fully certified as sustainable.

Those of you in the industry longer than I will know the history and our very own Bill Lart has captured the key points in his 'Story of North Sea Cod' which you can read in the Spotlight section of this month's Seafish Roundup. The turnaround that Bill describes in his article is an excellent example of collaborative working with a whole host of players coming together to do their bit. They put aside their own self-interests and have worked for the good and advancement of the whole. It's a story we can be proud of and I'm sure everyone involved will be keen to see the sustainability maintained in the years ahead.

Improving the fishing industry's safety record is another area where collaboration is making a difference. The safety record is improving (it is now eleven months since the last fatality) but the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) chaired by Sir Alan Massey of the MCA wants to push on in order to see the rate of progress accelerate. There is a major change coming with the implementation of the International Labour Organisation's Work in Fishing Convention (C188). This aims to bring about significant improvement in the conditions of work for fishermen. The Convention introduces the following new requirements including the following:

  • Skippers will be responsible in law for the safety of the crew onboard and the safe operation of the vessel
  • All fishermen will require a medical certificate attesting to their fitness to perform their duties
  • Safe manning levels will be introduced (i.e. minimum numbers of crew on certain sizes of vessel)
  • Minimum hours of rest will be established (not less than 10 hours in any 24 hour period, and not less than 77 hours in any 7 day period)
  • Crew lists will have to be carried and submitted to authorised persons ashore prior to departure
  • Every fisherman will have to be provided with a Work Agreement, setting out their Terms and Conditions for working onboard.
  • The Convention will also specify minimum standards for onboard accommodation, food and water and establish requirements for the provision of medical care, health protection and social security for fishermen.

And finally, I'm pleased to report that the collaborative process that is used to shape Seafish's next Corporate Plan is now well advanced. We are on track for the publication of a new Corporate Plan covering the period April 2018-2021. Our three Industry Sector Panels have discussed the work they would like Seafish to be undertaking. Recommendations have been made to the Seafish Board regarding broad budget allocations and we are now in the process of firming up on the activities that will feature in the next Plan.

It is clear that the Sector Panels want Seafish to support industry growth and become even more relevant to the needs of stakeholders. The Seafish Board will consider the proposed activities at its September meeting and the Sector Panels will have an opportunity to review the final plan in October before it goes before the four fisheries administrations for sign off. It might sound like a lengthy and drawn out process but it does ensure that the work Seafish does is very much responding to the needs of levy payers and the wider industry. 

Given the pace of change evident at the present time we are going to ensure that Seafish's work programme can be flexible from year to year, adapting to new challenges as and when they emerge. The changes that the Brexit process is likely to bring about do, in particular, require Seafish to be agile and responsive to industry needs as things develop. We believe this new Corporate Plan will put us in the best possible position to respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead.