Fishing vessel surveys for MCA & Seafish

SeaFish MCA reg Surveys.

These are carried out on behalf of the MCA through SEAFISH Fishing Authority. These are basically New registration surveys that have to be carried out to any fishing vessel in UK waters before the vessel can legally commercially fish. The vessels can be of all types and sizes and construction. fishing vesselThe majority of inspections I carry out fall into two groups that is under 7m and over 7m but below 15m. In the first instance, the owner has to apply to SEAFISH directly in order to obtain an application form. Once the application form has been completed and sent back with an appropriate payment then, depending upon the area the vessel is located, a surveyor will be appointed to carry out the inspection. These surveyors are authorised by SEAFISH.

A word of caution: Be very careful about purchasing a new or used vessel that has not got existing registration acceptance as the cost of bringing up to or building to standard can sometimes be prohibitive as the rules are very precise & strictly adhered to by the MCA.

Under or over 7m inspection

At this time, any under 7m inspection involves a hull structural inspection only without any regard to what is termed outfit, the outfit is the installation of engines, skin fittings, steering etc. Once over 7m the inspection becomes considerably more comprehensive involving hull structure, bulkhead placement, watertight compartments, bilge pumps (number and size) depending on the length of the vessel, safety railings, size of the freeing ports (deck drainage cutaways in the hull above the deck in vessels fitted with a weather deck) and a considerable number of other items.
The usual reason for existing vessels to require authorisation is change of ownership, lapse of registration or perhaps change of registration authority area. In the case of existing vessels then a degree of practicality is taken into consideration in respect of whether the vessel reaches the construction standards required. Very few existing fishing vessels constructed before 2008 will comply with the required new build standards hence, a degree of practical understanding and flexibility.

New vessels

In the case of a new construction fishing vessel it is imperative that any prospective owner contacts SEAFISH directly as, the regulations are particularly precise with regard to new build . In all cases, unless the build has been authorised by SEAFISH it may he be refused registration in which case, it will be unable to commercially fish.

New vessels have to have the design approved so if contemplating a new build, contact Seafish with the drawings.

Building Premises

Also before any Seafish approved design can be built the premises have to be checked to ensure the conditions are suitable. This includes temperature control, a clean moulding space free from any risk of detritus contamination, material storage control and recording . A "Yard inspection report" is required before approval. This is undertaken by a Seafish surveyor.













Here is a video of fishing vessels in extreme conditions which helps explain why certain requirements have to be met. In this case both vessels would surely have sunk without adequate freeing ports & sealed hatches. (permission of geoff mackley)



New build requirements

The new build constructional standards are particularly precise and take into account the conditions of GRP fishing vessel in buildHull construction with regard to temperature and humidity etc. whilst being laid up and lay down precise minimum scantling sizes and hull thicknesses as well as required number of bulkheads, watertight compartments and a considerable number of other constructional details which have to be incorporated from new.

Common Survey problems on existing boats.

Just check these very common areas oif failure that I encounter when checking an existing vessel over 7m with the required standard.It might help you be prepared for the quite stringent

Unless there are structural problems with the hull externally, most will be satisfactory if they are grp. The only problems usually encountered are hard spot cracking and physical damage.

The condition of the gel coat is not that significant nor is the condition of the paintwork.

The freeboard of the vessel is important in that if it is not significant enough it will not be permitted to fish offshore.

The height of the exhaust should be 4 inches above the waterline however, sometimes the authorities will relax on this if it is impossible to raise.

All skin fittings close to and below the waterline have to be fitted with seacocks and the correct type of pipework.

In some cases they have to have additional one way valves. There is no discretion allowed upon this.

Vessels with a "weatherdeck" must have adequate drainage for the deck (freeing ports). There is a formula for this based on the physical area of the sides above the deck.

The majority of vessels i look at have undersized freeing ports.
The height of Sills for hatches and wheelhouse have to be up to a certain height. For wheelhouse is it is 300 millimetres.

There are regulations for individual types and designs of hatches and methods of hatch gulley drainage which often cause problems.

The other significant area where problems exist are the watertight bulkheads.

Depending upon the length of the vessel you will need from one - three watertight bulkheads including a collision bulkhead forwards. It is sometimes impossible to install a collision bulkhead in an older vessel but some form of watertight bulkhead will be required forwards.

Every single watertight compartment must have at least two ways of pumping the compartment out.

The internal hull construction has to comply with certain requirements with regard to frame sizes, location and the installation of other strengthening components.

Batteries must not be stored below the waterline and they must be fitted in sealed boxes with ventilation to the outside atmosphere.

Railings have to be a certain height (in most cases the top rail has been no less than one metre above the deck. This includes around foredecks.

Emergency rudder operation.

In most cases there will be individual rules that affect whether or not fuel tanks are permitted within the engine compartment to do with the construction of the tank.

Under no circumstances is petrol allowed to be stored below decks.

The above is where I find the most problems on existing vessels and if you think your vessel may have some of these inadequacies then definitely access a copy of the standards and go through the standards carefully as, if there are significant deviations from the required standard on inspection and a significant number of these are the chances are you will require a second inspection and although this is not usually as expensive as the initial inspection, it is an additional cost.
it is an unfortunate truth that the cost of major rectification on an over 7m vessel in order to be certified can be more than some owners feel is worth the cost for that vessel.

Application of standards

These standards are available from SEAFISH for anyone to peruse and, interestingly enough, in some cases they could easily be applied to certain yacht construction as the constructional details are very precise and designed for absolute structural integrity and seaworthiness. Without doubt, some of the installation practices of engines and ancillaries will transfer very easily from these to yachts. Sample survey is available to applicantsĀ here to help understand what is required. You can also contact Seafish Scottish office on 0131 5583331. For further constructional information on the required standards for your vessel call the MCA direct on 01482 866606 More details on Seafish Web site here you can freely download the full constructional standards for GRP.Steel & timber fishing vessels

hi speed fishing vessel










Existing vessels

Where the registration has lapsed for one reason or another it may be necessary to re-register & this will require registration survey. In this case you will have to apply to Seafish directly for the application form. This requires your details & the vessel details (type/build construction & material/age/length etc) Some vessels built after July 2007 may not be eligible for inspection if they do not have the original Seafish stage surveys details when originally constructed & one or two builders of certain class vessels irrespective of build year might well be refused on the basis of unacceptable original specifications of build.

Check with Seafish first before buying a used vessel to ensure that it is eligible for inspection.

Your details will be passed onto a Seafish surveyor & they will make contact. The vessel must be out of the water & accessible. It can be totally dried out on a hard beach provided the hull below waterline is accessible both sides. In all cases the vessel MUST be out of the water.

A flat bottom vessel will have to be on blocks or if small enough, canted over one side at a time provided it is safe. The survey will be refused if the circumstances are unsafe or unacceptable