eu standard fishermen training

A new study commissioned by the PECH Committee suggests a EU Standard for Training Fishermen could boost career prospects in the industry. Photo: European Union

EU Standard for Training of Fishermen could improve Mutual Recognition of Certificates, Workers’ Mobility, and Attractiveness of the Fishing Sector

In a bid to enhance the social dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) has commissioned a comprehensive study titled ‘Training and Social Security Schemes for Fishermen – State of Play and Perspectives in the EU’.

The study aims to shed light on the mutual recognition of certificates of competency among EU fishermen and the functioning of social security schemes covering them.


Understanding the Current Landscape:

  1. Need for Social Dimension Progress:

   – The study responds to a consensus on the necessity to support the social dimension of the CFP, with a focus on improving the mutual recognition of certificates of competency and understanding social security schemes.


  1. Importance of Standardisation:

   – Recognising the vital role of fishermen’ safety and working conditions, the study advocates for standardising minimum levels of training among EU fishermen. This standardisation is crucial for ensuring safety at sea and facilitating the free movement of fishermen within the EU.


  1. Current Challenges:

   – The study identifies a lack of information on how certifications are recognised or not across EU Member States, hindering fishermen’ mobility and safety. Similarly, social security has been an overlooked aspect of EU fisheries policy, despite being a fundamental human right.


Mutual Recognition of Certificates:


  1. Directive 2005/36/EC Analysis:

   – The study bases its examination of the mutual recognition of fishermen’ certificates on the analysis of the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC and data from the EU Regulated Professions Database.


  1. Challenges in Mutual Recognition:

   – It reveals that fisher professions are regulated in only 10 Member States, with significant variations in required competencies, training, and fields of application. This diversity poses challenges to the mutual recognition of certificates and fishermen’ mobility across the EU.


  1. Mobility Statistics:

   – The study analyses decisions on recognition from 1997 to 2022, showing that 1740 decisions for EU fishermen’ mobility were processed, with seamen, skippers, and engineers being the most positively assessed categories.


Social Security Schemes:


  1. Diverse National Systems:

   – A comprehensive review of social security schemes for EU fishermen highlights the diversity in systems, with differences in governance, rules, and coverage. The study identifies eight Member States with special laws or regimes dedicated to social security for fishermen.


  1. Segmentation of Employment:

   – Employment in the EU fisheries sector is segmented into fishermen under standard employment relationships (large-scale fishing) and those under non-standard relationships or self-employed, predominant in small-scale coastal fishing.


  1. Coverage Gaps for Small-Scale Fishermen:

   – Small-scale fishermen, constituting a significant portion of the workforce, often remain uncovered for risks such as unemployment, sickness, and occupational accidents. This gap raises concerns about the generational renewal and attractiveness of the fishing profession.


Recommendations and Conclusions:


  1. Call for EU Standard:

   – The study recommends the establishment of an EU standard for fishermen’ training rooted in the STCW-F Convention to streamline mutual recognition, promote mobility, and enhance the sector’s overall attractiveness.


  1. Data Collection Enhancement:

   – Recognising the lack of data on social security, the study proposes improvements in data collection, emphasising the need for harmonised definitions and increased collaboration with national agencies.


  1. Minimum Wages and Social Security:

   – To stimulate recruitment and enhance attractiveness, the study suggests considering minimum wages for fishermen, especially in the context of climate change uncertainties, along with using fines for financing cessation periods.


In conclusion, the study provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of fishermen training and social security in the EU, offering valuable insights and recommendations for policymakers to address existing challenges and bolster the fishing sector’s social dimension.

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