Guide to Fishing Courses

NOTE: This information is intended to provide general guidance on the main training courses and qualifications available to fishermen. You should refer to the information on individual courses for more details of entry requirements, course content, and so on.

If you have any questions please Contact NAFC.

Three fishing boats.

New Entrants

New Entrants

If you want to work on a fishing boat you will need to complete four mandatory basic safety training courses:

  • Sea Survival
  • Fire Fighting
  • First Aid
  • Health and Safety

You will have to complete the Sea Survival course before you go to sea for the first time, and the other three courses within three months of starting work. (Each course lasts one day.)

After you have gained at least six months of fishing experience, and within two years, you will have to complete a further one-day course in Safety Awareness.

Introduction to Commercial Fishing

If you are interested in becoming a fisherman then one option is to undertake a 3-week Introduction to Commercial Fishing Course. In addition to the four mandatory basic safety courses listed above this course includes two weeks of shore-based instruction in subjects such as fishing gear, net mending, catch handling, rope work, stability and navigation.

Modern Apprenticeship in Sea Fishing

Once you have joined a fishing boat as a member of the crew, a Modern Apprenticeship provides a way to learn more about fishing and to obtain a qualification. During the apprenticeship you will gain practical experience while fishing and spend time learning at the NAFC Marine Centre on day or block-release.

The apprenticeship lasts for at least two years and at the end of it you will have gained a Modern Apprenticeship and an SVQ Level 3 qualification, as well as other specific qualifications relevant to the fishing industry.

Watchkeeping

Watchkeeping

If you want to be able to take a bridge watch on a fishing boat that is more than 24 metres in length, or which is operating outside the Limited Area, you will need to have a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency or an Officer of the Watch qualification (from 2017 the former 5-Day Bridge Watchkeeping qualification will no longer be sufficient for watchkeepers).

You do not need a formal qualification to stand a watch on a fishing boat that is less than 24 metres in length and operating in the Limited Area, but you must be experienced, capable and have been instructed in your duties. The requirements of a safe navigational watch must also be followed.

Skippers and Mates

Skippers and Mates

If you want to command a larger fishing boat or act as mate on one you will need either a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1 or a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency issued by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Which certificate you need will depend on the size of the boat and where it will be operating:

Area

Vessel Length

Skipper

Mate

Unlimited

> 40 m

Class 1

Class 2

Unlimited

< 40 m

Class 1

Class 2

Limited

> 30 m

Class 1

Class 2

Limited

24 – 30 m

Class 2

---

Limited

16.5 – 24 m

Class 2

---

Limited

< 16.5 m

---

---

Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2

If you want to command a fishing boat that is more than 16.5 metres in length, but less than 30 metres, you will need to have at least a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency. This will also qualify you to act as the mate of a fishing boat more than 30 metres in length, or one of any size operating in the unlimited area.

To obtain a Class 2 certificate you will need to have at least 3 years of sea-time in an acceptable deck capacity on a fishing boat, including at least 2 years on a boat over 12m in length.

Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1

If you want to command a fishing boat that is more than 30 metres in length, or a fishing boat of any size operating in the unlimited area, you will need to have a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1 certificate of competency.

To obtain a Class 1 certificate you will need to have at least 12 months sea-time on a fishing boat over 12 metres in length operating in the “unlimited area” (OR two years if operating in the “limited area”) while holding a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency (other combinations of sea-time may be acceptable also).

Under 16.5m Skippers Ticket

At present you do not need to have a formal qualification to command a fishing boat less than 16.5 metres in length. However, an Under 16.5 m Skippers Ticket is available and is recommended for the skippers of smaller boats. (This qualification could become mandatory in the future.)

You will need to have at least 18 months of proven sea-time on a fishing boat before you can obtain this qualification.

Engineers

Engineers

Qualified engineers are only required on fishing boats of over 750 kW (1,000 hp).

Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2

To act as a Second Engineer you will need to have an Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency.

To obtain a Class 2 certificate you will need to have at least 30 months sea-time on a fishing boat in an engineering capacity. The amount of sea-time required may be reduced if you have completed an engineering apprenticeship or other formal engineering training.

Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1

To act as a Chief Engineer you will need to have an Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1 certificate of competency.

To obtain a Class 1 certificate you will need to have at least 21 months sea-time on a fishing boat over 750 kW while holding an Engineer Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency.

Other Engineering Courses

MCA Approved Engine Course (AEC) - Part I - TO BE COMPLETED

Fishing Vessel Manning Requirements

Fishing Vessel Manning Requirements

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has set minimum requirements for the numbers of crew that are required to hold certificates of competency on fishing boats.

These depend on the size of the boat and where it is operating:

Deck Officers

Minimum number of crew holding each qualification:

Area

Vessel Length

Class 1 CoC

Class 2 CoC

Unlimited

> 40 m

2

1

Unlimited

< 40 m

1

1

Limited

> 30 m

1

1

Limited

24 – 30 m

---

2

Limited

16.5 – 24 m

---

1

Limited

< 16.5 m --- ---

Watchkeeping

On a fishing boat more than 24 metres in length, or which is operating in the unlimited area, any person standing a bridge watch must have either a Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2 certificate of competency or an Officer of the Watch qualification. (From 2017 the former 5-Day Bridge Watchkeeping qualification will no longer be sufficient for watchkeepers.)

Engineer Officers

Minimum number of crew holding each qualification:

Area

Vessel Power

Class 1 CoC

Class 2 CoC

Engine Room Watchkeeping

Unlimited

> 750 kW

1

1

---

Unlimited

< 750 kW

--- --- ---

Limited

> 750 kW

1

---

1

Limited

< 750 kW --- --- ---

Limited Area

Limited Area

The qualification requirements for the skippers and engineers of fishing boats, and the manning requirements of fishing boats, depend on whether it is operating in the "Limited Area" around the UK, or in the "Unlimited Area" (everywhere outside the Limited Area).