Making fishing safer in the UK — Seafish

Making fishing safer in the UK

Fishing is one of the riskiest jobs in the world. Find out how to make you, your crew and your fishing vessel safer.

Since 2013, 59 men have lost their lives whilst working on a fishing vessel in the UK. There has also been 100’s of accidents leading to severe injuries. The majority of these incidents are preventable. 

We work with fishing organisations, Government, regulators and charities to give fishing vessel owners, skippers and crew the support they need to get home safely. 

We are also a member of the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG). The group aims to to have zero preventable deaths on fishing vessels in the UK and to reduce the number of accidents. There is safety information and advice for people working on fishing vessels on FISG's Home and Dry website

The latest film from the Home and Dry campaign features three under 10m skippers from across the UK.

Safety regulations in the fishing industry

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is responsible for enforcing regulations around safety on fishing vessels. They carry out mandatory safety inspections on vessels.

The ILO188 Working in Fishing Convention came in to force in 2019 to improve the working lives of people working on fishing vessels. This includes new laws on safety such as: 

  • Risk assessments to be written down and discussed with everyone working on the vessel
  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) must be worn on deck at all times unless a risk assessment shows there is no need to wear one.
  • Medical certificates of fitness

There is more information on safety standards for fishing vessels and crew on the website. 

New regulations on medical certificates

By the end of November 2023, international law requires anyone working on a fishing vessel in the UK to have a certificate of medical fitness.

Ensuring you are medically fit helps to keep you and anyone working with you safe, avoiding a predictable problem at work due to underlying medical conditions.

There are two types of medical certificate in the UK:

  • An ENG1 is for those who are on vessels at sea for more than 72 hours or operating more than 200 miles from the coastline of the UK or beyond the continental shelf and may be subject to inspection in a foreign port. The MCA has published a list of approved doctors who can do ENG1 medicals.
  • An ML5 can be used by those on vessels under 24 metres and which the above points do not apply. If you fall into this category, you may use an ENG1 instead if that suits you better. The ML5 form can be downloaded on the website for you to take to your GP.

It is important to get an appointment with a GP in advance of the 30 November deadline. Below are links to helpful information on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website and other helpful resources:

Safety training courses for fishermen

A man is in a training pool being lifted by a winch a rope to simulate a helicopter rescue.

There are mandatory courses that need to be taken before anyone is allowed on a fishing vessel. This is a legal requirement and we are responsible for the administration of the courses on behalf of the MCA. 

Refresher safety training is important to keep your knowledge up-to-date. We help to secure funding for a variety voluntary safety training too. 

All mandatory and voluntary courses must be booked through Approved Training Providers. 

Funding for safety equipment

The right equipment and regular training is needed to keep everyone on board a fishing vessel safe. It is the vessel owner and skipper’s responsibility to make this happen. 

Grants might be available from the Government to cover the cost of some safety equipment. 

Subsea hazard alerts 

Our Kingfisher Information Services provide maps of subsea structures and hazards on the seabed around the UK. This information is available for free to commercial fishing vessel owners and skippers.