Europêche, the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the European Boating Industry, organised with the support of the European Commission a workshop attended by Member of European Parliament Sofia Ribeiro (Employment Committee), representatives from the European Commission and key maritime stakeholders.
Discussions took place to adequately address the problems faced by the fishing and boating industries in Europe, owing to the lack of recognition of qualifications of personnel on fishing and small commercial vessels.
The EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Fisheries (SSDC-F) works towards the enhancement and improvement of safety and vocational training, prevention of accidents at sea, workplace health and recognition of certificates.
As for the latter, over the past few years and despite a single internal market and simplified administrative procedures to live and study anywhere in Europe, repeatedly reports have shown that fisheries professional qualifications are still not accepted across EU countries.
Mr Cor Blonk, Chair of the SSDC-F declared that: “For far too long our fishermen have been working under conditions with no satisfactory framework to guarantee their safety on board.
"The safety of human life is of such paramount importance that this must be at the forefront of EU and national legislation.
"Therefore, only through true implementation of key international instruments in our legal systems can we ensure fishermen's integrity at sea.”
Over the past decade the SSDC-F has been advocating the transposition of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F, 95) in Europe through an EU Directive, similar to what the EU has done for the shipping sector.
This Convention is the first attempt to make standards of safety for crews of fishing vessels mandatory internationally, including basic safety training for all personnel regardless of the size of the fishing vessel.
In this sense, it would not only improve safety at sea in fishing but also further enhance the free movement of fishermen through its own system for recognition of fishers’ certificates of competence. However, this Convention is only useful if implemented through EU/national legislation.
Through this workshop representatives from both sectors highlighted the impact of the lack of recognition of qualifications on maritime employment, safety at sea, vocational training and nautical tourism and discussed possible solutions.