Safety of fishing vessels and crew

Information for owners, operators, skippers and crew about safety standards in the fishing industry.

This collection offers guidance to support and encourage:

  • safe working practice at sea
  • meeting legal and technical requirements for fishing vessel safety

Fishing vessel safety

Codes of practice

Codes of practice lay out requirements for fishing vessels, including practical and meaningful safety measures. The specific requirements can vary depending on the overall length of the vessel.

Code of practice for the safety of fishing vessels under 15m length overall

The aim of this code of practice is to improve safety and raise safety awareness within the fishing industry. It has been developed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in extensive discussion with the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG).

It came into force on 6 September 2021 and sets out requirements and minimum standards for all fishing vessels registered in the UK of less than 15 metres length overall.

The Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Fishing Vessels of less than 15m Length Overall guidance page contains all supporting information which should be read alongside it.

The following guidance contains further information about how to apply the code of practice and has been created in direct response to queries received by the industry.

The guidance will be updated over time with further advice if more queries are received.

Work in Fishing Convention ILO 188

The International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention (ILO 188) applies to all fishermen working on fishing vessels of any size, with more prescriptive standards for vessels over 24m in length or operating on longer voyages, three days or more.

ILO 188 entitles all fishermen to written terms and conditions of employment (a Fisherman’s Work Agreement), decent accommodation and food, medical care, regulated working time, repatriation, social protection and health and safety on board.

Home and Dry campaign

Visit the Home and Dry campaign website, for further safety information in relation to ILO 188.

Developed by the Fishing Industry Safety Group (chaired by the MCA), the website is aimed at fishermen and offers safety information and resources.

Through Home and Dry you can access sea safety training, guidance and technical expertise to make fishing safer - and help you to comply with ILO 188.

ILO 188 Guidance

The following guidance pages summarise the responsibilities of fishing vessel owners, managers, skippers and fishermen on how to comply with ILO 188.

All notices in relation to ILO 188 can be found listed on the ILO Work in Fishing Convention collection page.

Further guidance and support

Fishing safety guides and publications

The MCA also publishes a range of fishing safety leaflets and survey preparation guidance.

You can order free printed copies of safety publications from the MCA’s Safety materials ordering service.

The latest publications are listed on the Fishing safety guides and publications page.

Fishing safety digests

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) produces fishing safety digests and individual accident reports which contain lessons learned from previous incidents.

Contact the Fishing Safety Team

For further contacts within the MCA and the fishing industry, please see the Fishing safety contacts and other organisations page.

Fishing Safety Team


Team number 07880 278066

Updates to this page

Published 1 May 2014
Last updated 25 August 2022 + show all updates
  1. Telephone number updated

  2. Survey and inspection of fishing vessels guidance updated.

  3. Updated collection of fishing safety guidance to include latest pages and references to ILO 188.

  4. Added Correct fitting of a HRU

  5. Added MIN 593 to the Vessel modifications folder

  6. Uploaded link to MSF 1356 Notice of intent to build

  7. New links added to MIN 608 Amendment 2 and MGN 628 and MGN 629

  8. Important note added to Safety of Fishing Vessels and Crew

  9. removed link, updated with new link

  10. vessel modification section added

  11. New guidance document added

  12. Updated Fishermen's safety guide - Marking of Fishing Gear 2008 leaflet.

  13. First published.