The Seafarers’ Charity successfully concludes the Fishing First Safety Management project delivered by the SafetyFolder.

The SafetyFolder is a free online safety management system for fishing vessels used by many fishing vessels in the UK.

The Fishing First Safety Management pilot project was a 6-month pilot project, launched in Autumn 2021 and concluding in March 2022. It has successfully developed the infrastructure for a fully auditable safety management system. 50 fishing vessels in Southwest England participated in the pilot project and are already reaping the benefits of improved safety management practices and putting in place additional safety mechanisms onboard their vessel. The project was funded by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Fisheries and Seafood Scheme & Trinity House Department for Transport Maritime Safety Fund.

What we are doing

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.

This short film is an introduction to the project from some of the people involved in its delivery.

Fishing First Safety Management

50 fishing vessels have benefited from the pilot project and received professional support to develop their own bespoke enhanced safety management practices. With the help of professional auditors who made visits to the vessels, owners can now evidence compliance with ILO 188C Work In Fishing Convention by meeting the requirements of the Fishing Safety Management Code (MGN 596F). The 50 fishing vessels are based throughout the Southwest and are a range of different sizes and types. The smallest was only 16 feet long, the largest was over 24m.

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.

Adopting a Safety Management System has been a game changer in protecting workers from injury and saving lives in high-risk industries. By adopting the new auditable Fishing First Safety Management service, operators are now documenting all of their safety and welfare activity and have peace of mind that they are compliant with regulations. Documentation is to the standard of the Fishing Safety Management Code and is designed to avoid duplication with the MCA’s Surveys and Inspections, therefore simplifying compliance with legislation.

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 service 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 this successful pilot project in the Southwest of England, The Seafarers’ Charity is exploring how to put in place the funding and the structure to support rolling out the Fishing First Safety Management service more widely across the UK. This will include the availability of training as lead auditors from the Nautical Institute.

In addition, other projects are currently in development to better demonstrate how the Fishing First Safety Management service is able to improve supply chain transparency.

Visit the Safety Folder website

A free service for fishing vessel owners to manage your health and safety needs.

Read our press release

The Seafarers' Charity reports 50 Vessels join the Fishing First Safety Management Project to improve safety and supply chain transparency.