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International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), 1995


 
 
Adoption: 7 July 1995
Entry into force: 29 September 2012.
Status: see status of conventions

STCW-F  Background
  


The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, 1995 (STCW-F 1995), is set to enter into force on 29 September 2012, after the required 15 ratifications were reached on 29 September 2011, with ratification by the Republic of Palau.
 
The 1995 STCW-F Convention sets the certification and minimum training requirements for crews of seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above. The Convention consists of 15 Articles and an annex containing technical regulations.
 
The STCW-F Convention is the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel on an international level. The Convention prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel, which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.
 
Presently, it is estimated that annually more than 24.000 lives are lost world-wide during fishing operations which is a most deploring record indeed. The IMO recognises the need for a response to the safety crisis in the fishing industry and has a number of instruments addressing the issue. One of these instruments is the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), which was adopted by IMO in 1995, and is expected to bring considerable benefits and advantages to the fishing industry i.e. improving the quality of education and training provided to personnel employed in fishing vessels; and enhancing the standard of training and safety in the fishing industry and fishing vessel fleets.
 
The STCW-F Convention will contribute to the reduction of casualties, and will go a long way to improve the present poor safety record of the global fishing industry.  The STCW-F Convention will apply to crew onboard seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and above.  It sets the regulatory framework for the training and certification of personnel employed on board fishing vessels with a view to improve the safety of life and property at sea in the fishing industry. This is the first attempt to establish international mandatory training standards for crew manning and operating fishing vessels and we all hope that it will indeed have the desired impact and effect. However, it is important to note and bear in mind that the STCW-F Convention does not actually deal with manning issues as such, which is crucial and should make ratification and implementation easier for all concerned.
 
The following countries ratified the Convention enabling  to come into force on 29 September 2012:
 
Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Kiribati, Latvia, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic and Ukraine.
 
The STCW-F Convention is comparatively short and consists of 15 Articles and an annex containing technical regulations in four chapters:

Chapter I contains General Provisions;
Chapter II deals with Certification of Skippers, Officers, Engineer Officers and Radio Operators;
Chapter III deals with basic safety training for all fishing vessel personnel; and
Chapter IV deals with watchkeeping
 
Other related documents:
 
Document for Guidance on Training and Certification of Fishing Vessel Personnel
 


Previously, efforts to improve the training, certification and watchkeeping standards of fishing vessel personnel have been adopted as recommendations in Assembly resolutions and the Document for Guidance on Fishermens' Training and Certification produced jointly by IMO and the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
 
The Document for Guidance took account of the conventions and recommendations adopted by ILO and IMO and the wide practical experience of FAO in the field of fishermen’s training and covered training and certification of small-scale and industrial fishermen. In 1995 a joint working group, in co-operation with FAO and ILO, reviewed the Document for Guidance with particular reference to relevant resolutions of the STCW-F Convention.
 
The outcome was a revised document entitled Document for Guidance on Training and Certification of Fishing Vessel Personnel, which was approved by FAO, ILO and IMO in 2000 and published on behalf of the three organizations by IMO in 2001.
 
Fishing vessel safety code and voluntary guidelines
 
IMO has developed, in collaboration with FAO and the ILO, a number of non-mandatory instruments. These include the revised Code of Safety for Fishermen and Fishing Vessels, 2005, and the Voluntary Guidelines for the Design, Construction and Equipment of Small Fishing Vessels, 2005.
 
The revised Fishing Vessel Safety Code and Voluntary Guidelines - originally developed and approved in the 1970s - have been developed for use primarily by competent authorities, training institutions, fishing vessel owners, fishermen's representative organizations and non-governmental organizations having a recognized role in fishermen's safety and health and training.
 
Part A of the Code provides guidance on the development of national codes and fishermen's education and training manuals and guidance on the safety and health of fishermen. Competent authorities will be encouraged to make use of the contents of the Code and the Voluntary Guidelines in the production of safety and health and training materials in an appropriate format to suit the particular needs of the fisheries of the country or region and in local languages.
 
Part B of the Code provides guidance on safety and health requirements for the construction and equipment of fishing vessels.