Fishing certification and training

How to get statutory safety training and the certificates of competency you will need to work in the fishing industry.

It’s important that all fishermen understand the risks involved in fishing at sea and know what to do in an emergency.

Before you go to sea as a fisherman you must take formal safety training and have certificates to prove that you have done the training.

In this guide you will find information on safety training for fishermen, crew agreements, the different Certificates of Competence (CoC) and details about providers of fishing industry training.

Safety training for boat workers and Certificates of Competence

If you’re new to the fishing industry you must attend the following safety training courses:

  • Basic sea survival
  • Basic fire fighting and prevention
  • Basic first aid
  • Basic health and safety

All new entrants must do the Basic Sea Survival course before going to sea for the first time. The other 3 basic safety training courses must be done within 3 months of starting work as a fisherman.

If you have 2 years fishing experience you must attend the Safety Awareness and Risk Assessment course. You can find training and certification requirements for fishing vessel crew in MGN 411 Certification requirements for crew of fishing vessels, small commercial vessels and large yachts. This also gives more detail about the certification requirements for fishing vessels that are 16.5 metres and above in length.

Arrangements for first aid and medical care training for fishing vessel personnel, boatmaster’s licence holders or operators under statutory codes of practice can be found in MGN 147 (M+F) Training in First Aid and Medical Care.

Certificates of Competency (CoC)

The rules governing the Certificates of Competency (CoC) are based on the size or power of a fishing vessel, as well as its area of operation.

If you are a skipper, mate or engineer, working on fishing vessels that are 16.5 metres in length and above, or work on vessels with propulsive powers of 750 kilowatts, you must hold an MCA CoC.

You can only get a CoC after assessment and examination, which consists of practical, written and oral components. Guidance and application information for gaining a Fishing Certificate of Competency for deck and engineer officers, including conversions and upgrades is available on the MCA website.

Read more about the general requirements for certification and medical fitness for Certificates of Competency in MSN 1883 and MSN 1886 (M+F).

Certificates of Competency for personnel on fishing vessels

There are three specific CoCs for deck personnel on fishing vessels:

  • Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1
  • Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2
  • Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 3

The CoC does not cover work on standby, seismic survey and oceanographic research vessels. Suitably qualified fishing CoC holders can apply for a restricted CoC for these types of vessel. More information can be found in MGN 121 (M) Use of Fishing Vessel Certificates of Competency in Standby, Seismic Survey and Oceanographic Research Vessels - Revised Arrangements..

There are two specific CoCs for engineering personnel on fishing vessels:

  • Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1
  • Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2

You can find information and syllabuses for engineering fishing officers to apply for certification on the MCA website.

MGN 411 (M+F) provides further guidance on the Deck and Engineer Officer requirements for fishing vessels, and on a general exemption regarding the carriage of engineer officers on vessels with a propulsive power of more than 750 kilowatts operating in the limited area. You can find out more in MGN 411 (M+F) Training and Certification Requirements for the Crew of Fishing Vessels and their Applicability to Small Commercial Vessels and Large Yachts.

How to apply for a Fishing Certificate of Competency

Seafarers can only serve on a fishing vessel if they hold a CoC or a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC). Guidance and application information for gaining a Fishing Certificate of Competency for deck and engineer officers, including conversions and upgrades can be found here..

Information on how to apply for a UK fishing Certificate of Competence (CoC) for engineers can be found here.

All UK fishing vessels must have a list of crew on board which must be left with the nominated person before or immediately after the departure of the vessel. MSN 1891 Amendment 1 ILO work in fishing convention list of crew provides more guidance.

Fishing training providers

You can access training necessary for the fishing industry via a Seafish-approved and supported network of training providers. These providers exist throughout the UK and deliver training courses such as:

  • Basic Sea Survival
  • Basic Fire Fighting & Prevention
  • Basic First Aid
  • Basic Health & Safety
  • Safety Awareness
  • Basic Stability Awareness
  • Intermediate Stability Awareness
  • Damage Control
  • Bridge Watchkeeping - two day and five day courses
  • Engine Room Watchkeeping - two day and five day courses
  • Diesel Engine Course
  • Care of the Catch
  • Food Safety and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points training for fishers
  • Sea Fishing Apprenticeship
  • Basic Seamanship

You can find Seafish-approved training providers on the Seafish website..

Nautical colleges and training providers

Nautical colleges run courses leading to a UK Certificate of Competency for the merchant navy. You can find contact details for nautical colleges and training providers on the MCA website.

There are various organisations that can provide further information on nautical training, for example:

Further information

MCA Training and Certification Helpline: 023 8032 9231

Published 19 September 2012
Last updated 20 April 2021 + show all updates
  1. Fishing Vessel Training and Certification has been edited to reflect new important information and website links.

  2. Refined the Nautical College and Training Providers list to be more appropriate to the Fishing Industry.

  3. Added reference to Class 3 Fishing CoC.

  4. Updated link to Seafish website

  5. First published.