Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business


New Plans Revealed to Support UK’s Fishing Industry


A requirement for routine medical checks for fishermen on vessels measuring 10 metres and under is to be waived.

The UK Government says that while the safety of fishermen remains the top priority, it 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.

Small-scale fishing businesses represent more than 80% of UK registered fishing vessels. Unlike larger fishing operations, operators of vessels measuring 10 metres and under are often self-employed and frequently require additional support.

The decision to waive the requirement follows 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 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.

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 four 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 two years.

Business News Wales