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Opinion - Training and certification of crews of fishing vessels

2021-02-19  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Training and certification of crews of fishing vessels
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Prof. Moses Amweelo

The international conference on safety of fishing vessels, 1977, adopted resolution 8 inviting the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to extend its consideration of the problem of training and certification of crews of fishing vessels, as defined in the Torremolinos convention, in co-operation with International labour organisation (ILO) and food and agriculture organisation (FAO). 

The sub-committee on standards of training and watchkeeping of IMO, in pursuance of this recommendation and also taking into account the recommendation of the international conference on safety of life at sea, 1960, commenced work on this subject, having regard to the fact that the international convention on standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers, 1978, excludes application to fishing vessels. As a result of this work, in 1981 the IMO assembly adopted resolution A. 

484 (XII) containing recommended basic principles to be observed in keeping a navigational watch onboard fishing vessels. The recommendation addressed to the national competent authorities, comprises basic principles to be taken into account on all fishing vessels en route to or from fishing grounds and on vessels engaged in fishing or researching for fish. 

Namibia has acceded to the international convention on standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers (STCW-78) and the international convention on standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for fishing vessels personnel (STCW-F 95). 

It is now necessary that training at the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Training Institute is carried out strictly in accordance with the requirements of the convention where necessary, and the courses designed to meet the needs of the employers, bearing in mind that the ship owners are both local and foreign. Another recommendation prepared by the sub-committee on standards of training and watchkeeping is the recommendation on minimum requirements for certification of officers in charge of a navigational watch of fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over operating in unlimited waters. 

This recommendation was adopted by the IMO assembly in November 1983 by resolution A. 576 (14). As a consequence of resolution 8 of the 1977 Torremolinos conference, IMO prepared and adopted a number of other recommendations on watchkeeping and certification of fishermen (resolution A. 539 (13), A. 622 (15) and A. 623 (15)). In 1981 the joint IMO/ILO committee on training considered a proposal to prepare a document for guidance on fishermen’s training and certification. 

Following consultations between the executive heads of FAO, ILO and IMO, it was agreed that the document should be prepared by a joint FAO/ILO/IMO working group and approved by the three organisations. The document for guidance is the result of the joint work and was approved by the governing bodies of FAO and ILO and the maritime safety committee (MSC) of IMO for publication. 

The document for guidance takes 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. It is intended to provide guidance when national training schemes and courses are instituted, amended or developed for the vocational training of any category of fishermen. 

It is stressed that the additional guidance given on training is complementary to, and not intended to supersede, the knowledge requirements specified in these ILO and IMO conventions and recommendations. The document for guidance applies to training and certification of both small-scale and industrial maritime fishermen catching fish, whales, seals, walrus and other living resources of the sea. 

However, in the case of fishing vessels of less than 24 m in length or powered by main propulsion machinery of less than 750 kW propulsion power, certification is not prescribed but may be introduced at the discretion of the competent authorities. Training programmes for fishermen should be based on an analysis of the prevailing needs and conditions in each particular area to ensure that in addition to safe operation, the skills to be developed will reflect the need for commercial success and the occupational requirements of fishermen. 

It follows that training programmes should be prepared by competent authorities in co-operation with organisations involved in the fishing industry and the overall welfare and development of the fishing community. In establishing training standards, particularly those related to the smallest fishing vessels, the sociological and educational backgrounds of the fishing community concerned should be considered to ensure that the standards are realistic and can be attained. 

In some cases, practical evidence of attainment of the desirable skills could be adequate, whereas insistence on academic achievement may restrict the development of the fishing industry.

2021-02-19  Staff Reporter

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