Over the last two months we have carried out several safety workshops at ports around Cornwall and Devon, focusing on safe working practice for small fishing vessels and the new Fishing Vessel Safety Code
MCA surveyors were there to advise too. Here are some of the frequently asked fishermen’s questions and the responses that came up during those sessions.
Q – When does the new Fishing Vessel Safety Code start?
A – Now. The next time your vessel is inspected the new Code will be applied. Your current Vessel Safety Certificate is valid until then.
Q – Do all the Code amendments have to be on my vessel for my inspection?
A – Mostly yes. But some are brought in after a transition period on 5 September 2023. You have until your next inspection to refit and upgrade the vessel.
Q – Can I get a grant for the work?
A – Yes. If you apply for grant funding for safety & welfare improvements you can get up to 80% of the project costs – after the 5 September 2023 (transition) there may not be the same grants available because the requirements become mandatory.
[The grant for under 12m vessels using static gear is 80% of costs, Over 12m vessels using towed gear get 50% grant]
Q – Why is a small vessel towing gear getting less grant aid?
A – SCT found no answer to this but passed it on to the grant team at MMO and Fish Industry Safety Group.
Q – What sort of life raft meets the new rules?
A – Life rafts will have to include a SOLAS B pack. Ask your chandler for advice and read the Code Chapter 7.
Q – What does the surveyor look at?
A – The vessel and crew! At the workshops we handed out a checklist used by surveyors. It’s a handy guide to help you prepare. You can download the relevant checklist for your vessel here:
Q – Do all vessels need a fixed firefighting system?
A – Vessels under 10m need to demonstrate a means of extinguishing fire without opening the engine hatch. Vessels over 10m need a fixed fire fighting system. If you have one please talk to the safety adviser and MCA to check it is appropriate.
Q – Can I change to other methods of fishing?
A – You need to notify the MCA of all the methods of fishing used at the inspection as they will add it to your certificate. And notify the MCA before you change methods of fishing.
Q – What if the vessel isn’t up to the new requirements?
A – MCA will issue you information on what is required to meet code. If the vessel needs work you can apply for grant aid up to 80%. Once the transition period is over you probably cannot get a grant.
Q – My inspection is not until 2024? Can I do nothing?
A – Yes But……SCT recommends you check the code because if the vessel is going to need upgrading you can get a grant now, and get it booked into a boatyard. All the work needs to be done before 5 September 2023 otherwise the grants for this type of work will probably stop.
MCA issued a new FV Safety Code on 6 September 2021. SCT recommend that you check the 131 pages of code for details (the code is complex and you need to read carefully). For full guidance, click:
* Out of water inspection every 5 years
* Record of Vessel Stability is needed – heel or roll test and offset load (Chapter 3)
* Wolfson method (Annex 9) applied to most vessels (Chapter 3.12)
* New checklists for LSA and safety equipment
* Changes to a Fishing Vessel must be notified to MCA, including engine replacement
* Weathertight integrity – new requirements
* Secondary means of engine starting (Chapter 4)
* Bulwarks or guard rails raised to 1m above sole (Chapter 6)
* Liferafts requirements changing – transition by 23 October 2022 (Chapter 7.4.1)
* Monthly record of Emergency Drills
* Carry paper charts or alternatives (Chapter 9.7.1)
* A secondary means of starting the engine.
If you’d like more advice or have any more questions you can contact Safety Adviser Clive Palfrey on 07967 009412 or email email@example.com or call the office on 01736 364324.