Commercial fishing training courses

Mandatory and voluntary courses for those working on commercial fishing vessels

Some safety training courses are mandatory and must be completed before going to sea, but it’s also important for commercial fishermen to complete other voluntary courses to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Mandatory training

Mandatory training requirements for UK commercial fishermen are set by the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Basic safety training

Anyone starting work on a UK registered commercial fishing vessel must complete the following four one-day safety training courses:

  • Basic Sea Survival 
  • Basic Firefighting and Prevention 
  • Basic First Aid
  • Basic Health and Safety

Basic Sea Survival must be completed before going to sea for the first time; the other three courses must be completed within three months of starting work.

Experienced fishermen (those with two years’ experience) also need to complete a further one-day course in Safety Awareness and Risk Assessment.

Deck and engineer officer Certificates of Competency

Skippers, mates and engineers working on vessels over 16.5m in length, or with a propulsive power of 750kW or more, are required to hold the relevant MCA Deck or Engineer Officer Certificates of Competency.

Voluntary training

Keeping your skills and knowledge up to date can save lives, so fishermen should also consider completing additional voluntary training courses.

Refresher training

Experienced fishermen who completed their basic safety training more than three years ago should re-attend training in sea survival, firefighting, first aid, and safety awareness.

Under 16.5m Skipper’s Certificate

Experienced fisherman can also progress towards a Seafish Under 16.5m Skipper’s Certificate. To obtain this certificate you need to complete the following training courses:

  • Navigation/Bridge Watchkeeping (two or five-day course)
  • Engineering/Engine room Watchkeeping (two or five-day course)
  • Stability Awareness (two one-day courses)
  • GMDSS Radio Operation (minimum two-day course)

Trawl gear technology training

The Sintef Flume Tank at the North Sea Centre in Hirtshals, Denmark offers practical trawl gear technology training. This gives fishermen a chance to complete training without being subjected to the dangers of the sea and offers a unique insight into the way gear reacts to different conditions.

Seafish can support fishermen wishing to undergo trawl gear technology training in Denmark by funding travel between the UK and Hirtshals, as well as covering the costs of hiring the Flume Tank and overnight accommodation for fishermen and UK trainers – contact our Fishermen’s Training team for further details.

New entrants

Information on apprenticeships and courses for individuals looking to begin a career in fishing:

Further information


Contact our Fishermen's Safety Training team on 0131 558 3331 or email