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Sunday, 24 October 2021
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New survey set to explore working conditions in the UK fishing industry

THE Seafarers’ Charity this week released a new survey to better understand the reality of working conditions for fishing crew across the UK. The 20-minute research survey covers subjects including contracts and crew accommodation, facilities, and fishers’ welfare. Crew members are encouraged to anonymously share their experiences of working life on fishing vessels.

Catherine Spencer, CEO for The Seafarers’ Charity, explains the reason for the survey:

“The past few years have been a period of momentous change for the industry. Financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, post-Brexit trading arrangements and major legislative challenges, including implementing ILO c188 and National Minimum Wage regulations, are just some of the disruptive challenges.

“This period of substantial change is the reason for the research survey at this time. It is a unique opportunity to get a better understanding of what it’s like to work on a fishing vessel from the crew’s perspective.”

The survey, created by researchers at the University of Nottingham, is focused on all crew working in the UK fishing fleet, including the local workforce and those from overseas, share fishers, and contracted employees. At the end of the year, the research team will share the initial findings from the survey with industry stakeholders and fishing organisations to help develop a comprehensive and shared understanding of working life within the UK fishing industry.

Catherine continued:

“Fishing can be an incredibly rewarding job in career terms, as well as financially, but it is widely recognised as a demanding role, with difficult working conditions common in all forms of commercial fishing: long hours, strenuous activity, complex or dangerous machinery for catching, sorting, and storing fish, all alongside the innate challenge of the weather and working far from shore in the marine environment.

“Fishers face a range of stressors, impacting their physical and mental health. For many skippers, uncertainty regarding fisheries management changes, regulation, bureaucracy, and negative media representation can add to these. This survey intends to gather additional information on working life beyond the perspective of skippers and vessel owners whose views are regularly captured by Seafish in their Annual Economic Fleet Survey. We want to understand how the crew are being impacted by the changes and challenges that have occurred.”

The Seafarers’ Charity hopes that findings from the research will help to build on the interesting recruitment initiatives and apprenticeship schemes ongoing at this time and will further contribute to understanding and identifying what more could be done to encourage new entrants and increase safety. The survey is key to understanding how working in the UK fishing industry could become an attractive career option within local fishing communities.

The survey will take just 20 minutes to complete, and all crew members are encouraged to share their views. It can be completed in a choice of languages. The survey can be found here: bit.ly/UKFishing. All survey responses are anonymous.

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