Safety update

November 1995 Watchkeeping on fishing vessels

This safety update is for owners and skippers of fishing vessels. It is issued to raise awareness of the potential serious risk to safety on board a vessel where un-certificated people have been left in charge of the bridge. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with lookout.


Investigations into strandings and collisions of fishing vessels have brought to light a number of instances where un-certificated people have been left in charge of the bridge.

From this it is to be inferred that the practice of leaving the bridge to unqualified persons is widespread. The danger of allowing this to occur, especially at times when navigation and /or conning of the vessel is of critical importance, is self evident. It is necessary to emphasise to all concerned the importance of safe navigation and the priority it should receive in the organisation of work on board at all times, particularly when proximity to the land or to other vessels demands increased vigilance.

Safe practice tips


Owners and skippers are strongly urged to ensure that an experienced and competent person is in charge of the bridge at all times and that an efficient lookout is kept.

The crew members called upon to lookout must have had a reasonable period of rest before taking charge.

It should also be borne in mind that not only is the safety of a vessel and all on board endangered by not keeping an efficient lookout but other vessels which may be close-by could likewise be affected.

The attention of Fishing Masters is drawn to the Collision Regulations.

Original source content - Boat Notice 171995, November: Watchkeeping on fishing vessels.

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