Fishing Safety


Communication and navigation technologies are essential components of safety in fishing operations. Electronic navigation and communication technologies have become much cheaper, smaller and easier to use in recent decades.

For navigation purposes, every fishing vessel should at least be equipped with a compass, which may be handheld or fixed ordinary compass, or a satellite based navigation system, such as the global positioning system (GPS). Governments generally have specific requirements with regards to the navigation equipment to be carried and used on-board. Larger vessels may be required to have radar, radar reflectors, Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) or electronic chart plotters.

For communication purposes between fishers and with coast guard and other marine space users, the Very High Frequency (VHF) Radios are generally the primary means of two-way communication.

Small-scale vessels that operate near shore are often authorized to use mobile phones as means of communication, while large industrial vessels commonly also have satellite telephones on-board for communication over larger distances. In many countries, mobile phone apps are available that provide weather warnings, emergency buttons to notify the search and rescue services, and direct contacts with the coast guard.

Digital selective calling (DSC) compatible VHF radios, search and rescue radar transponder (radar-SART), automatic identification system (AIS) transponders,  (AIS‑SART), and/or Float-Free Satellite Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), as well as Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) can be considered necessary by countries for fishing vessels operating in their waters. These technologies have become much cheaper in recent years and are therefore more widely used, contributing to safety in fishing operations.

It is important to ensure that the fishing vessel has adequate power (electricity supply) for various hours continued use of navigation and communication equipment when the engine is not functioning. In this respect it should be noted that functional navigational and signal lights are also components of a vessel’s safety equipment and are required under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), (1972).

Detailed recommendations on communication and navigational equipment important for fishing safety can be found here.