Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) — Seafish

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)

Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is the UK Government Maritime Authority.

Its responsibilities include the production and oversight of legislation and guidance on maritime matters including those relating to seafarer safety and health. Seafarer safety and health is not a devolved responsibility.

The MCA will implement ILO 188 for the UK (England Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). The MCA is also the statutory authority for enforcing Merchant Shipping legislation. MCA inspectors have the power to board fishing vessels at all reasonable times and to inspect it to ensure compliance with the regulations; these inspections extend to equipment and documentation. They have the power to prosecute, detain vessels and issue improvement notices.

MCA legislation and guidance includes measures for the safety of everybody in a vessel in UK waters; the safety of all seafarers on UK flagged vessels; making sure all equipment on UK vessels is fit for purpose; and making sure all seafarers on UK vessels have correct documentation.

Implementing ILO 188 Work in Fishing Convention in the UK

The MCA has published a series of Merchant Shipping Notices, Marine Guidance Notes and Marine Information Notes to help fishing vessel owners (which includes the manager), skippers and fishers to understand the new requirements. The MCA is encouraging the industry to look at the M Notices to understand how the UK legislation implementing the Convention applies, rather than to look at the ILO 188 convention itself.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Marine Guidance Note (MGN 605 (F)) in March 2019 drew attention to the key areas of ILO 188, new legislation and the accompanying Merchant Shipping Notices (MSN) and Marine Guidance Notices (MGN), where they can be found and how together they implement ILO 188. It summarises the main changes for UK fishing vessels caused by implementation of ILO 188 and lists the implementing legislation and supporting guidance for ILO 188 and explains where to find it. It also outlines the timetable for progressive implementation of certain provisions of ILO 188.

In January 2020 the MCA announced it was stepping up monitoring of the fishing industry and compliance with ILO 188. The MCA will be taking full advantage of resources and new technology, for example, the use of new fixed-wing aircraft with high quality cameras onboard.

In May 2020 the MCA published two new Marine Guidance Notes to address living on board fishing vessels. This acknowledged, that for non-EEA crew members, living on board vessels is a reality and that fatalities and incidents have occurred whilst fishers have been living on board fishing vessels, alongside in port. MGN 413 provides a Voluntary Code of Practice for Employment of Non-EEA Fishing Crew. MGN 425 draws the attention of owners and crew to the inherent dangers on vessels not properly equipped for overnight sleeping on board and what emergency procedures should be in place.

Seafish Briefing Note. ILO 188. What it means for the UK fishing industry and those operating in UK waters. July 2019.

This briefing note provides an overview of what is covered by the new legislation and what changes this will bring about. The new legislative requirements have been split into those covering health and safety and those covering working conditions. There is also guidance on where to look for further information.

Significance for seafood businesses: 

This is seafood- specific. ILO 188 will be legally binding on all countries that have ratified the Convention.

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