The Next Generation of Fishers

Getting children away from social networking sites, their phones and video games and into the outdoors is a constant battle for most parents.  It’s sad to say that with the technological advances around us, the love of the outdoors seen in past generations of children is seriously in decline.

For the fishing industry, this is naturally a concern.  Fishing is hard work with long hours, in potentially dangerous conditions, battling with the elements.  Despite this, for many it is a passion and the rewards can be very good.

One way to get the next generation interested in a career in fishing, is to offer them an opportunity to experience a trip on board a MFV.  Historically, family tradition has lead to many generations embracing a career as a fisher and this can start early in the young person’s life.

If you are carrying a young person on board or are contemplating doing so, there are some requirements which need to be adhered to; further guidance is available from the MCA.  Failing to comply with the requirements can lead to a fine on prosecution, not exceeding £1,000.

Any young person carried on board in the capacity of obtaining work experience must be over the age of 15 years old.  In a working environment, there is no provision to carry anyone younger.  The work experience must be conducted in the school holidays, unless arrangements have been made with the education establishment.  Prior to stepping on board, the young person must have completed the Basic Survival at sea course and you should ensure you retain a copy of the Seafish certificate.

It is also the Skipper and Owner’s responsibility to adequately assess all risks in a written Risk Assessment completed prior to the trip, demonstrating that consideration has been given to ensuring the young person is only engaged in light work, or job shadowing and that their health and safety and morals are not in danger.

The minimum age for a paid crewmember is 16 years and there are additional requirements to comply with, compared with employing crewmembers over the age of 18 years.  The young crewmember must have completed all the 4 required basic training courses before joining the boat and the Seafish certificates, or credit card certificate, must be viewed and preferably a copy retained for your records.  They must also be in possession of a current medical fitness certificate.

MSN 1882 (F) Amendment 1 provides details of the applicable fishing Regulations and confirms that all under 18 year olds who have not attained level 3 qualifications should continue their education until their 18th birthday.  An apprenticeship scheme has been developed in England by the CFPO, which is hoped will be delivered in early 2022.  The Scottish Marine Academy offers a 12 week trainee deckhand course.  Other courses throughout the country will be available.

Work activities which may jeopardise the health, safety or morals of a young person must not be carried out by an under 18 year old, nor tasks which are hazardous, unless they are in the context of training and properly supervised.  A written risk assessment should be undertaken prior to the young person joining the boat, which assesses all risks, taking into account the inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young persons.  The crewmember should be informed of all possible risks identified and the measures adopted for their protection.  A separate written record of young people carried on board should also be kept, as well as the Fisherman’s Work Agreement.

Health surveillance must be provided to any young crewmember required to work at night, which must be reflected in the Risk Assessment.  ‘Night’ is any period of 9 consecutive hours including the hours between midnight and 0500hrs local time.  Health surveillance involves the free assessment of the crewmembers health and capacities before starting work and regular monitoring thereafter.

In addition, a young crewmember should be given at least 12 consecutive hours rest in any 24 hours and should have a rest period of 2 days in every week, consecutive if possible.  Where they work over 4.5 hours, a 30 minute break should be given.

Check with your insurer or broker that there is cover in place for you to take a work experience young person or an under 18 crewmember on board.  If an accident happens, the duty on the Skipper and Owner to ensure the safety of the young person will be very high.  A young person should be strictly supervised at all times and there should be good evidence of the training in practices and procedures undertaken, enabling them to complete assigned tasks safely.

Whilst there are a number of requirements, these mainly reflect common sense when introducing a young person to a very different and challenging working environment.  Developing the next generation of fishers by educating, equipping and inspiring them will help resources being relied upon now to be available for future generations.   Marine Scotland is currently providing support to new entrants in the form of grants towards up to 75% of the costs of buying a second hand boat, further details on eligibility can be found on page 10 of the Marine Fund Scotland general guidance on the Scottish government website.

If you have any questions relating to this article please contact our Marine Law Team.