Training and Awareness

Fishers often seem neither aware of nor willing to admit the risks inherent in their occupation. In addition to plenty of anecdotal evidence there are scientific studies showing the risky disposition of fishers, even reporting that fishers are more prone to suffer fatal injuries on land than members of other occupations. In a Canadian study the "hierarchy of worries" among offshore fishers showed that their greatest concerns centred on the depletion of the fish stocks and the potential loss of work etc. only mentioning fear of injury on the job at the bottom.

Accidents involving fishers are more common the longer they have been on the job, and there is threefold risk of a fatal accident if the seafarer has been more than 10 years on the job. Possible explanations include that the more experienced are likely to be entrusted with the dangerous tasks and may be more prone to taking risks. Also, younger crew members are more likely to have received safety training than the older ones. This gives reason to hope that concerted efforts in improving safety education and training of fishers may result in reduced accident rates, along with improved vessel design, construction and working conditions on board.

In designing training programmes for inspectors, new trainers or the fishers themselves, several issues have to be tackled.

What is the framework within which the training programme will operate?

  • Who is responsible for standards and certification?
  • Who is to be trained?
  • Where will the training be conducted?
  • Who will decide on the content of the training curriculum?
  • Who will do the training?


IMO Publications

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F), was adopted in 1995, and will apply to crews of seagoing fishing vessels generally of 24 metres in length and above.

It was originally intended that requirements for crews on fishing vessels should be developed as a Protocol to the main STCW Convention, but after careful consideration it was agreed that it would be better to adopt a completely separate Convention. The Convention is the first attempt to make standards of safety for crews of fishing vessels mandatory internationally.

The STCW-F Convention is comparatively short and consists of 15 Articles and an annex containing technical regulations.





FAO/ILO/IMO Publications

FAO/ILO/IMO document for guidance on training and certification of fishing vessel personnel. The Document for Guidance took account of the conventions and recommendations adopted by ILO and IMO and the wide practical experience of FAO in the field of fishermen’s training and covered training and certification of small-scale and industrial fishermen. In 1995 a joint working group, in co-operation with FAO and ILO, reviewed the Document for Guidance with particular reference to relevant resolutions of the STCW-F Convention.

The outcome was a revised document entitled Document for Guidance on Training and Certification of Fishing Vessel Personnel, which was approved by FAO, ILO and IMO in 2000 and published on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), by IMO in 2001.



Various FAO publications related to training and awareness.

More publications could be found at the FI website.


Selected ILO publications related to training and awareness of fishers.


Decent Working Conditions, Safety and Social Protection - Work in Fishing Convention No. 188 and Recommendation No. 199 (Brochure)


Guidelines for port State control officers carrying out inspections under the Work in fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188).


Handbook for improving living and working conditions on board fishing vessels.


Training Manual on the Implementation of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188)


Guideline to undertake a comparative analysis of the Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) and national laws, regulations or other measures.


Preliminary version of the ‘FAO-ILO good practice guide for addressing child labour in fisheries and aquaculture: policy and practice’



last updated:  Sunday, September 23, 2018