By 30 November this year, all fishermen, regardless of age, will be required to have a medical fitness certificate in order to work at sea.
The medical certificate will either be a ENG1 or ML5, which are doctor approved medical certificates that shows a fisherman is fit enough to work at sea. A ENG1 is valid for up to 2 years and a ML5 is valid up to five-years (so long as the seafarers’ mental and physical health remains in line with the regulations). Both the certificates may be issued with restrictions attached and if you are over 65-years of age, it is only valid for one year.
We are aware that industry representatives are seeking to have the regulations changed. However, as charities that support people working in fishing, we are concerned about what might happen regarding those who do not get the required certificates by the deadline date. For example, fishermen without a health certificate may find themselves in a situation whereby they are unable to find work or their fishing licence is revoked or their insurance nullified.
We urge all who work at sea on fishing boats to book a medical check before the deadline date of 30th November. Applying for a medical certificate before the deadline date means fishermen with a pre-existing medical condition that would otherwise not qualify for a certificate, can be considered for what is referred to as ‘grandfather rights’.
Grandfather rights would mean that, where you can do so without significant risk to your own or others’ health and safety, you are allowed to continue to work in your current occupation with a pre-existing medical condition which would otherwise exclude you from working at sea in commercial fishing. For example, grandfather rights may apply to colour blindness. If you do not apply for your medical certificate by 30th November, you may not be eligible for grandfather rights. The rules state that you will then be classed as a new entrant who needs to meet the MSN 1886 medical standards. The medical assessor will then have less flexibility to consider your history of working with any medical condition.
For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions produced by MCA.