Fishing vessel surveys for MCA & Seafish

SeaFish & MCA reg Surveys.

Seafish now only undertake new vessel constructional surveys. These are carried out on behalf of the MCA through SEAFISH Fishing Authority. These are new vessels inspected whilst under construction. This inspection checks the build is proceeding as per the required design & procedure. Under 7m require only the hull checked after construction, but over 7m require several inspections at intervals both checking the hull & deck structure &, if the vessel is to be finally registered, what is called the outfit. The outfit includes batteries, bilge pumps, machinery etc. This all has to be complete at the final inspection.

Existing vessels are now inspected on behalf of the MCA directly & Seafish are no longer involved. The applicant contacts one of the approved surveyors (I am one of the MCA delegated surveyors) directly and arranges the inspection. The surveyor should get some details of the vessel, location of survey (the vessel has to be able to be inspected in a location where the underside can be examined without serious restrictions) Day of inspection arranged & payments for the inspection prior to the day of inspection. The report is then sent off by the surveyor to the MCA survey office closest to the vessel operating area & any decisions or other comments are then forwarded directly by the MCA to the owner/applicant.
The scope of the inspection is quite thorough & more intensive than the previous Seafish inspection for under 7m vessels but along similar lines to the old Seafish examination for over 7m & I would strongly suggest talking to your chosen surveyor prior to getting the vessel ready for survey.

You can find a list of approved surveyors (not many available) by contacting the MCA or go on their web site vessel

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.

Buying an existing vessel?

Be extremely careful before you part with your money as any vessel constructed AFTER July 2007 will NOT be accepted on the fishing register & cannot be surveyed unless it has an original new build certificate. These are build certificates authorised by Seafish confirming that the vessel was surveyed during original construction & met the new build requirements at that time. Vessels built pre 2007 still can be registered provided they pass survey. It is also likely that any new owner may find they have to have a complete new registration survey so do not be misled by any information an eager seller may wish you to believe.

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 tothe MCA directly for more information. 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 withan MCA surrveyor or the MCA first before buying a used vessel to ensure that it is eligible for inspection.

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