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New plans revealed to support UK’s fishing industry

Small fishing businesses will no longer be forced ashore and financially burdened by the cost of medical assessments.

  • government has listened to the fishing industry and is reducing the burden on small scale fishing businesses by removing the need for medical certificates
  • move will apply to existing fishermen on vessels of 10 metres and under following widespread support from fishermen and coastal communities
  • ensures fishermen can continue their work supporting the UK’s vital fishing industry and coastal economies

Following extensive consultation with the industry, the government has listened and will waive the requirement for routine medical checks for fishermen on vessels measuring 10 metres and under. This decision will ease financial burden and provide support to the UK’s fishing communities.

While the safety of fishermen remains the top priority, the government is delivering this pragmatic change so that small-scale fishing businesses aren’t unduly forced ashore and financially burdened by the cost of medical assessments, allowing them to continue fishing without restriction.

This decision underscores the government’s commitment to supporting the livelihoods of small-scale fishing businesses, which represent over 80% of UK registered fishing vessels. Unlike larger fishing operations, operators of vessels measuring 10 meters and under are often self-employed and frequently require additional support.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper is in Cornwall today (27 March 2024) to speak with fishermen following an industry wide medical consultation which saw widespread support from the fishing sector and coastal communities.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said:

This government backs our fishing industry, which is why we have listened to fishing communities and are easing the burden on small-scale fishermen to make sure they can continue their work unhindered.

Our fishing sector will be able to continue operating safely, protected by our world leading safety standards while supporting the UK fishing industry that forms the backbone of so many coastal economies.

Fisheries Minister, Mark Spencer, said:

Vessels of 10 metres and under form a vital part of the UK’s fishing industry, and today we’re taking action to ensure those who work on them will not face the cost of medical assessments.

Following our consultation, we’ve listened to the industry, and these changes will allow fishermen to continue their important work productively and as safely as possible.

In November 2023, regulations came into effect requiring fishermen working on small UK flagged vessels to have a certificate of medical fitness. While exemptions were initially granted for eyesight, BMI, diabetes, and seasonal fishermen, the recent decision extends this to all existing small-scale fishermen.

With this landmark decision, the government has also widened the eligibility criteria. Initially, during the consultation phase, the government proposed that fishermen on vessels of 10 metres and under must have worked for a minimum of 4 weeks in the year before the regulations took effect. However, recognising the potential for exclusion due to factors such as illness, the government has extended the time limit to 2 years.

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