A revised Code of Practice for the design, construction, equipment and operation of small fishing vessels (less than 15 metres length) comes into effect on March 3, 2014.

Small fishing vessels are already required to carry EPIRBs (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons). The revised Code requires them to also carry automatic, float-free EPIRBs, and for everyone on board to wear Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs).

Inshore vessels of less than 15m such as the Dunmore East fleet will be required to carry automated, float-free EPIRBs  from March 3, 2014. Photo Gillian Mills

Inshore vessels of less than 15m such as the Dunmore East fleet will be required to carry automated, float-free EPIRBs  from March 3, 2014. Photo Gillian Mills

These changes follow several reports from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) recommending the use of float-free EPIRBS and the wearing of PLBs by all on board. (Float-free EPIRBS are now much smaller and cheaper than earlier models.)

Every fishing vessel will be required to be in compliance with these new requirements when they are next surveyed. This is in line with the safety initiative for the Irish fishing industry launched in Union Hall in July 2013 by Ministers Leo Varadkar (Transport, Tourism and Sport) and Minister Simon Coveney (Agriculture, Food and the Marine.) 

 At the same event both Ministers also announced a new enhanced Safety Equipment Grant Aid Scheme by BIM.

“While safety equipment may prove valuable in accelerating response times when a vessel or crew member gets into difficulty, it is no substitute for the overriding ‘safety-first’ approach which has to be recognised and adopted by everyone in the fishing sector – if we are to see a reduction in the number of incidents, injuries and loss of life in the sector,” remarked Minister Varadkar.

“I also remind all skippers and fishermen of their responsibility to check all of their safety equipment prior to each trip…,” he added.

The revised Code also includes details on existing requirements for the regular carrying out of musters and drills to ensure skippers and crew are familiar with safety procedures should an incident occur.

“Our laws, regulations and codes of practice already reflect best international practice, and there is no compelling reason why, one day, there should be no fatalities in the Irish fishing sector. We need a change in attitude, culture and practice across the sector,” he said.


1. This Code relates to fishing vessels that are less than 15 metres in length. Separate regulations apply to larger vessels (S.I. 640/2007 in relation to vessels greater than 15 metres but less than 24 metres, and S.I.s 417 & 418 of 2002 and 72 of 2003 in relation to vessels greater than 24 metres).

2. In 2013 there were no fatalities in the larger fishing vessels’ sectors while three separate incidents in the 15m <24m’ and >24m) each account for c. 5%. 4. The Code of Practice covers, inter alia, standards for fishing vessels construction, equipment, training and working conditions and has chapters on:

• Construction, Structural Strength and Weathertight Integrity;

• Stability;

• Machinery and Electrical Installations;

• Fire Protection, Detection and Extinction;

• Protection of Crew;

• Life-saving Appliances;

• Manning, Training and Certification;

• Radio Equipment

• Navigation Equipment, Lights, Shapes & Sound Signals; and

• Accommodation and Working Spaces.

Download the code on www.dttas.ie/maritime/english/code-practice-fishing-vessels-less-15m-length-overall