Whilst the MCA’s consultation on amendments to the new ML5 medical certification requirements closed on 27 February, the potential for considerable delay in announcing any outcome or decision is complicated by a growing expectation that prime minister Rishi Sunak may opt for an election in May.

With all political decisions immediately suspended in that scenario, the potential for the current ML5 regulations to remain in place for the foreseeable future, notwithstanding the responses to the consultation, are considerable.

Inshore commentor and director of NUTFA Jerry Percy told FN that with the risk of continued and protracted delay, the MCA should immediately suspend its requirement for the under-10 sector to hold an ML5 until the results of the consultation are released and a decision is made.

He told FN: “Despite the MCA’s potential about-turn on the requirement for all fishermen to pass either the ML5 or the ENG1 medical to be allowed to continue to fish, the ongoing requirement and demands on inshore day-boat fishermen to take the examination is putting potentially needless extra worries on the sector for no good reason.

“Based on the responses from fishermen received by NUTFA throughout our campaign in this respect, I would be genuinely stunned – as will the MCA – if the outcome was anything other than overwhelming support for the exemption for those in the under-10 sector.

“Quite apart from the debacle – welcome though the climbdown was – of holding a consultation months after forcing such a draconian and ruinous requirement on hundreds if not thousands of fishermen, to still be forcing fishermen to go through such a process, at great cost and worry, is entirely unnecessary.

“We are still getting calls from fishermen who are worried sick by these demands, so please, MCA, just pause your demands until we know the results of the consultation.”

As FN went to press, we had received no word from the MCA as to a likely date for any ministerial decision to be made as a result of the ML5 consultation, or when details of the responses received would be made public.

By Andy Read, editor, Fishing News

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.50 here

Sign up to Fishing News’ FREE e-newsletter here


Subscribe to Fishing News magazine today; never miss an issue and save 55%!