Consultation on fishing convention measure proposals

Published: 16/11/2017

Fishermen would be given extra protection in their working lives under a new set of proposals currently out for consultation by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

The MCA has launched a public consultation on measures which would address all aspects of living and working conditions on fishing vessels, including decent crew accommodation, work agreements, medical fitness of seafarers and medical care on board. Regular payment of wages or payment of another type in accordance with the fisherman’s work agreement would also be required.

In particular, implementing the International Labour Organisation’s Work in Fishing convention (ILO 188) would also give a framework for protecting all fishermen, regardless of their employment status.

Proposals have been prepared in consultation with representatives from the UK fishing federations, the Fisherman’s Mission and Nautilus International.

Sir Alan Massey, chief executive of the MCA said: ‘The UK ratified the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) in 2014 and there is evidence that the MLC is making a difference in improving the working lives of seafarers worldwide.

‘Putting in place the Working in Fishing Convention would do the same for fishermen. We know there are concerns about the terrible conditions that some fishermen have been working in - sadly sometimes, even in the UK. We share those concerns as part of our commitment to safer lives and safer ships.

‘One of the most important reasons for bringing in ILO 188 is to prevent mistreatment of any sort on board, by setting out - and enforcing - the minimum standards we expect for living and working conditions for all fishermen.’

Maritime Minister John Hayes said: ‘Fishermen across the UK often brave cold and dangerous seas to bring home their much-needed catches.

‘We have a rightful duty to improve the living and working standards for these men and women who play an important role in our maritime sector and nation.

‘This industry-wide consultation will enshrine better employment conditions into UK law and help ensure that all fishermen have a fair and safe working environment.'

The Consultation closes on 12 January 2018. To see the consultation package in full please follow the link below:


Notes to Editors

ILO 188 was developed in discussions between fishermen, fishing vessel owners and governments at the ILO in Geneva and adopted in 2007. The criteria for it coming into force internationally was ratification by 10 members (including 8 coastal states). That target was met last November and the Convention will now come into force internationally on 16 November 2017.

MCA has been working with industry representatives and the Fishermen’s Mission and Nautilus International (representing the interests of fishermen) through the Work in Fishing Convention Working Group to develop proposals to implement ILO 188 for UK fishing vessels.

ILO 188 applies to all fishermen regardless of employment status, and this will, in particular, help to address several long-standing MAIB recommendations aimed at improving health and safety on fishing vessels.

ILO 188 for the first time requires fishermen to have a medical fitness certificate. The UK is proposing to take advantage of the provision for “progressive implementation” in the Convention:
• for those working on vessel of over 24m in length or at sea for three days or more at a time, medical fitness certification will be introduced when the UK legislation comes into force; and
• for those working on smaller vessels/ on shorter voyages, medical fitness certification will be phased in 2019.