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Work in Fishing Regulations - Fisherman's Work Agreements

What is a Fisherman’s Work Agreement ?

The ILO (International Labour Organisation) Convention No. 188 (Work in Fishing) will be introduced to UK law by The Merchant Shipping (Work in Fishing Convention) Regulations 2018.  The Regulations will regulate various aspects of the relationship between a Fishing Vessel Owner and Fishermen working as crew. These include the requirement for the Owner and each Fisherman to enter into a written Fisherman’s Work Agreement which must contain terms on certain issues required by the Regulations. The Regulations will be subject to phased implementation. In the case of the requirement for the Fisherman’s Work Agreement, it seems likely this will take effect on 31st December 2018.  It will then be mandatory to have a Fisherman’s Work Agreement for each fisherman and a criminal offence to fail to do so.

Who must enter into a Fisherman’s Work Agreement?

The Owner and the Fisherman, whether the fisherman is an employee or a self-employed share fisherman. If the Fisherman is employed by another party (e.g. personal service company), that other party must also enter into the Agreement.  Ultimately however the Vessel Owner is responsible to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Regulations.

Is there a standard form of Fisherman’s Work Agreement?

The MCA has provided templates for Agreements to apply for employed fishermen and self-employed share fishermen. These may not however be suitable in all cases and should be adapted to the particular circumstances of the relationship.

Particular issues will be to ensure the Agreement does not undermine the self-employed status of a share fisherman.  In the case of Filipino fishermen, the relationship between their current contract of employment and the Fisherman’s Work Agreement will require to be considered. The Agreement will also be required to be adapted to include a personal service company employing a fisherman if this applicable.

Which terms require to be contained in the Fisherman’s Work Agreement?

The precise requirements are set out in the Regulations. In addition to confirming details about the parties to the Agreement, the Agreement must confirm the basis for calculating the Fisherman’s remuneration (either the amount of wages or share of the catch and the method of calculating such share). The Agreement must also contain terms about termination, the provisions to be supplied to and by the Fisherman and about sickness, injury or death onboard and repatriation. 


Mackinnons can advise on the detailed requirements of the Regulations and can provide Fisherman’s Work Agreements for the different types of relationship which an Owner may have.  For more information, please contact Nicola Gray or Graham Jones or call 01224 632464.

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