Fishing News has been contacted by a wide range of small-boat skippers, across the UK, who are experiencing difficulties with getting their boats through the new MCA code, and the inspections required. Over the next few weeks, FN will strive to shed some light on the latest issue to threaten the UK’s inshore fleet

Fishing News asked on our Facebook page for fishermen affected by the new code to contact us with their concerns and experiences. We have had a huge number of contacts since then, from around the British Isles, repeating the same concerns, and all worried about their futures.

Three south coast owners, close to retirement age, have all, in different ways, made a decision to sell up and retire – two of them to sell their licences, and keep their vessels for pleasure fishing.

As one owner told FN: “Now I will at least be able to take my grandson fishing on nice weekends when it is safe to do so – up until now, this was illegal, as he is too young to get the certificates required on a commercial boat. Hopefully this will go part-way to persuading him to try and find a future in the industry.”

An owner in Scotland contrasted the performance of his vessel, fishing for over 26 years, in the worst winter weather the West Highlands can throw at a boat, with that of a new arrival, fully MCA-certified, that turned over on its mooring in a gale.

In spite of being forced to tie up, he says the code is the issue, not the surveyors: “I do not have a grudge towards the MCA, and I realise that should I be in trouble at sea, they are the first people I would contact for help.”

Others have been less forgiving: “If I am seen to criticise the surveyor, I am already warned he has power to make me pull my shaft as part of the out-of-water survey. We all know it’s best not to rock the boat.”

We would like to learn about the extent of the issues, and any patterns arising around the UK. If you’ve been affected – or, conversely, have found the entire survey process straightforward – please contact us, detailing your experiences.

Fishing News will be working with independent surveyors, boatbuilders and experts to develop as great an insight into this issue as possible, and to present constructive proposals to the MCA and others for discussion.

We hope this will be in a spirit of co-operation, with all parties working for the same outcome – of maintaining a viable and safe under-12m fleet in British waters. Currently, it faces a perfect storm of issues that is fast putting them out of business.

All contact will be treated as anonymous, unless we subsequently receive your permission to make it public. Please also indicate whether you would be willing to allow Fishing News to commission (and pay for) an independent survey of your vessel as part of this.

Do you have a similar story? We’re looking for inshore boat owners to tell us exactly what the MCA is asking you to do in order to be certified under the new code. Send examples and images to



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