The Seafarers’ Charity provided the Secretariat and support for the Fishing First Safety Management pilot project in the Southwest of England. The pilot project tested the approach to auditing and established and trained a new network of 19 qualified lead auditors who have visited, audited and supported 50 vessels in the pilot.

Our role involved project and contract management, stakeholder management, communications and facilitating collaboration and engagement. We provided the secretariat for an industry steering group which was chaired by The Nautical Institute and included members from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, Scottish Fishing Federation, Welsh Fisherman’s Association, Seafish, Maritime & Coastguard Agency and representatives from the catch and retail sectors.

50 fishing vessels of different sizes and types, ranging from 16m to 24m, have benefited from the pilot project and received professional support to develop their own bespoke enhanced safety management practices. Vessel owners can now evidence compliance with ILO 188C Work In Fishing Convention by meeting the requirements of the Fishing Safety Management Code (MGN 596F).

Nautical Institute Lead Auditor Training

As the pilot progressed it became apparent that there was a requirement for more auditors to be trained to ISM standard. The Nautical Institute identified the need for a practical, cost-effective training solution and was able to step forward and offer the development of an ISM Lead Auditor’s Course by remote learning. The Nautical Institute delivered an online ISM Lead Auditor’s Course in support of this project and so far, has delivered 2 courses for 19 students who are now qualified lead auditors. Whilst this particular course had an emphasis on the fishing industry, it has proven so successful it is hoped that further courses will be offered for commercial shipping.

In this article from the December 2021 edition of The Nautical Institute’s Seaways journal, Captain Jeff Parfitt, Head of Safety & Environment at The Nautical Institute explains why they are supporting this project. The Nautical Institute supported the project by developing and delivering a new and bespoke training course for lead auditors (see this article from the May 2022 edition of Seaways).

Photo shows the first group of trainees to receive lead auditor training.

Improving safety management doesn't have to cost more. For most vessels it is just about being more organised and introducing a whole system approach, to be able to evidence with confidence how it is that a vessel is kept safe. The Fishing First Safety Management System provides a team of Advisors and Auditors who can give the necessary support to develop a practical and easy to understand bespoke safety management system for each fishing vessel.

Good for safety and good for business

Both consumers and the wider seafood industry have a growing interest in sustainability, ethical issues and transparency of how and where seafood is caught. This also involves fishing vessel safety standards and properly contracted crew. Operators who adopted the Fishing First Safety Management System can now demonstrate supply chain transparency and add value to their business as a producer of high-quality UK seafood.

And good for saving lives

Reducing risk is especially critical on fishing vessels with 100 times the risk of death compared to the average UK worker (MAIB). The Seafarers’ Charity is improving the lives of seafarers every day and a big part of that is making sure fishers can work and return home safely from voyages without experiencing harm or accident.

Looking Ahead

After the successful pilot project in the Southwest of England, The Seafarers’ Charity is supporting the expansion of the Fishing First Safety Management System to the rest of the UK.