Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Government to support small-scale fishing industry across the UK in latest medical consultation [January 2024]

The press release issued by the Department for Transport on 16 January 2024.

The government launches a consultation on medical exemptions for fishers working on vessels 10 metres and under in length.

  • Government gives industry a chance to have its say on concessions that would benefit fishers on vessels of 10 metres and under.
  • Safety of fishers is paramount and today will make sure that remains the case while ensuring fishers can continue their important work
  • Government continues to listen to the views from across the fishing industry

An industry-wide consultation starts today to see how small-scale fishers can fish as safely as possible.

In November 2023, regulations came into effect requiring fishers working on small UK flagged vessels to have a certificate of medical fitness. The government has worked to support those who can still fish but would otherwise be unduly forced ashore. Some grandfather rights have been extended for eyesight, BMI, diabetes and most recently seasonal fishers.

Unlike larger fishing operations, those who operate vessels of 10 metres and under are usually independent and require more support, which is why today the Department for Transport is seeing how to best deliver medical exemptions safely so hard-working, small-scale fishers aren’t unduly forced ashore.

The potential concession is being considered by the Secretary of State for Transport after listening to the concerns of those in the fishing industry as well as MPs representing coastal communities.

Industry is being urged to have its say on the proposals, which are being published by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The blanket exemption from holding a valid medical certificate would only apply to those who have already been working on vessels of 10 metres and under for at least 4 weeks between 30 November 2022 and 30 November 2023.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:

The safety of those who are working in our fishing industry is paramount and it’s vital that any medical requirements work for them. That’s why we have actively listened to views from the fishing industry and MPs representing coastal communities, already granting concessions for factors such as eyesight, diabetes and BMI.

This consultation shows that we are open to proper solutions that uphold the highest standards of safety.

See the MCA’s GOV.UK pages to read and take part in the Medical exemption – existing fishers on vessels of 10 metres or under consultation.

Notes to editors

  • Reviews of medical standards are carried on out a regular basis.
  • The Secretary of State for Transport is considering providing an exemption under regulation 14 of The Merchant Shipping (Work in Fishing Convention) (Medical Certification) Regulations 2018 so that existing fishers working in fishing vessels of 10 metres and under (registered length as defined by the Fishing Vessels (Codes of Practice) Regulations 2017) in length are exempt from regulations 4 and 5.