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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Outcome monitoring protocol in support of the 2021 Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Fishing Vessels.

Background

Having a fatality rate approximately 100 times higher than that of the UK general workforce, commercial fishing remains the most dangerous peacetime occupation in the UK. Ten commercial fishermen have tragically lost their lives in accidents at sea this year. This is the highest number in a decade and about double the annual average over the past five years (source: MAIB).

On 6th September 2021 the new Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Fishing Vessels (MSN 1871 Amendment 2) came into force. Its aim is to improve the safety of fishing vessels in foreseeable operating conditions, to implement recommendations issued by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and to improve the chances of the crew surviving an incident.

This new policy regulates new UK fishing vessels and, crucially, 4700+ existing UK fishing vessels that is, the vast majority of the UK fishing fleet. At present the under 15 metre fleet is virtually unregulated with respect to stability and other safety aspects. The new CoP has a two year transition period that will end on 5th September 2023, when the whole fleet will have to demonstrate compliance.

The new CoP regulates areas such as construction, machinery, crew protection and stability. Poor vessel stability often determines a sudden capsize and results in fatalities, therefore intact stability is a highly regulated part of the CoP. It is expected, however, that most existing fishing vessels will fail to comply with the new stability rules as they were not designed against these in the first place.

Wolfson engineers are internationally regarded as small craft experts and have been providing independent, unbiased advice to the marine industry for more than 50 years. Whilst Wolfson has never engaged before with a regulatory body in a post-implementation monitoring capacity, it has considerable expertise in small craft stability, marine accident investigations and the delivery of experimental evidence in support of marine policy, see eg. http://www.wumtia.soton.ac.uk/about-us/published-papers.


Objectives

It is proposed to establish a protocol that will enable monitoring the outcomes and the overall effectiveness of the new CoP throughout its transition period 09/2021 – 09/2023, with the MCA Fishing Safety team acting as a partner organisation and PPS providing specialist policy research expertise. The post-implementation review techniques outlined by the MCA in the 2018 IA document will be incorporated, as appropriate.

It is envisaged that the outcome monitoring strategy identified through this study will enable the policymakers to determine whether:

• the new CoP is delivered effectively,
• the new CoP is achieving the desired results,
• amendments to the CoP are required to improve its effectiveness and/or uptake by the fishing industry,
• common queries from end users emerge over time, and require a formal interpretation/guidance,
• further research is needed to support the CoP or improve/adjust its scope.

The deliverable will be a policy brief describing the recommended outcome monitoring protocol and an addendum outlining the proposed monitoring strategy, including:

• identification of key stakeholders and resources/survey data available
• development of meaningful measures to assess progress towards key goals and overall objectives,
• timeframe, frequency and scope of audits aimed at collection, verification and analysis of data,
• timeframe, frequency and structure of reporting.

Given the timescale of the CoP transition period, the intrinsic complexity of the CoP and that fact it is a brand new standard, an early engagement of Wolfson/UoS is likely to result in a longer term collaboration and new research stimuli in areas such as naval architecture, small scale fisheries management and marine policy research, with Wolfson and PPS acting as MCA advisors and preferred research partners for future revisions to the CoP.

It is also expected that, going forwards, this collaboration will increase the exposure of Wolfson/UoS to the UK Fishing Industry Research Group (FISG) chaired by the MCA. This will enable Wolfson/UoS to identify research themes of interest to key stakeholders in the fishing industry, and options to engage on prestigious, large scale research contracts.

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