Sunday, 17 October 2021

Sécurité de la pêche - French safety at sea - when fishing

The French fishing industry has taken a more controlling attitude to safety at sea for their fishermen over the years. For example, since the 1970s, vessels working offshore (2nd category) are called twice daily (by long range radio) grouped by the ports they work from by the nearest radio station - in Area VII this is Ushant) and asked to report in - a system referred to as 'vacance'. Many of the bars in French fishing ports, fishing offices and families of fishermen would have an SSB radio receiver that they would listen to daily waiting for their particular 'vacance' calls to know what the boats were doing. They would know at the same time as the authorities if there was a problem. The system used the following brief term to inform the shoe of their status:

  • route pêche (steaming to the fishing ground)
  • route port (steaming for their designated landing port
  • en pêche (engaged in fishing)
  • en cap (dodging in bad weather)
Sometimes the boats would give their lat/long position when dodging in bad weather. If this mandatory safety system had been in place in the UK in 1997 when the beam trawler Margaritha Maria was lost those ashore would have been aware there was a problem before she was registered as overdue. She sailed on the 11th of November but the authorities wee not informed until the 18th of November. The last known contact with her were telephone calls made on the eve of the 11th by members of the crew.

Following the loss of the Margaretha Maria with all hands a group of relatives including the wife of the skipper tried to get a similar system put in place in the UK - it was known as FRAPPS- fishing reporting and position system - but was never officially implemented. Today, newer technology (AIS and catch reporting) means that fishing vessels working offshore are in regular contact with the shore- but thee is still no formal system to parallel that of the French.

In addition, all French trip vessels in Category 2 are required to report in to their designated landing port giving 48 hours notice of their intention to land and the general makeup of their catch. This is displayed on a landings board at each fish market. For many years the French offshore boats would work trips landing on the 15th day. They also have to carry a ticketed engineer.

These French vessels from Loctudy, St Guenole and Guilvinec sheltering in Newlyn in 1983 were all subject to the above safety regulations.

The level of control over how fishing vessels in different categories can fish is strictly enforced, offenders are prosecuted especially if there are crew involved who would have been considered as being put in danger.

Limits of navigation permits

• 5th category : exclusively in sheltered waters (closed roadsteads, basins and ponds, etc.)

• 4th category : less than 5 miles from the sheltered waters of the port of departure

• 3rd category : less than 20 miles from the most land close

• 2nd category : less than 200 miles from safe shelter and 600 miles from the port of departure

• 1st category : beyond

Arrangement methods

• Small-scale fishing : less than 24 hours of absence

• Coastal fishing : less than 96 hours of absence

• Offshore fishing : more than 96 hours of absence

• Large-scale fishing : more than 20 days of absence

General safety regulations

• division 227 : ships of less than 12 m

• division 226 : ships of 12 to 24 m

• division 228 : ships of more than 24 m

Texts accessible on this site ( useful and official texts )

or on the site www


• Check, to preserve your rights, that you are regularly on board with regard to the Enim.

• Check that your medical examination for fitness is valid.

• Check that any current medical treatments are compatible with the day before.

• And above all, before boarding and throughout its duration, avoid behavior that could endanger the ship and the members of its crew, such as:

- consumption of alcohol,

- use of drugs (cannabis, others),

- acute smoking,

- lack of sleep.

Checks of the vessel to be done by the skipper before any departure

Validity of the navigation license:

• Warning: embarking on an irregular vessel may affect rights in the event of an industrial accident or illness during navigation and have legal consequences.

• Respect of the limitations of the navigation and fitting-out license (PP, PC, PL - see p.1).

• Validity of revisions of safety equipment : life rafts, distress beacon, immersion suits and lifejackets.

• Mandatory test of all alarms , in particular water level alarms and vigilance alarms (dead man).

• Consultation of the "single prevention document" which every fishing vessel must have.

Marine events and work accidents are not inevitable!

For everyone

• At sea, the risk is permanent.

• Don't get distracted during the shift.

• Radio/electric navigation and fishing aids (radar, plotter, AIS, etc.) do not exempt you from maintaining a watch.

• Visual monitoring is done continuously, day and night, all around the horizon.

• Radio watch on channel 16 must be permanent.

• No TV or games on the bridge.

• The quality of rest conditions safety at work.

• Pay careful attention to his hygiene of life and avoid all behaviors that could affect his aptitude and vigilance.

For bosses

• Organize workspaces, identify all obstacles and risky situations.

• Deduce from this examination the precautions to be taken (collective and individual protection equipment) and record them in the “single prevention document” to be kept on each vessel.

• Coordinate each other's work with that of the rest of the crew.

• Moor anything that needs to be moored.

• Ensure that all accesses to the sea are closed, in particular the doors between the fishing deck and the work rooms or the interior of the vessel.

• Do not force the eighth notes but use the most suitable release methods (see Ifremer / IMP guide on eighth notes).

Fire risk

• Fire is a major risk for a fishing vessel . Its prevention rests first and foremost on the quality of the alarms (which must be regularly tested) and warning procedures.

• Once started, the fire is first combated by removing its feed:

- stop the fuel supply to the engine,

- close the doors and vents of the machine compartment or the affected room and do not reopen them,

- Check at each tide the proper functioning of the closing of these hatches and access.

• Immediately afterwards, fight the fire:

- use the fixed extinguishing devices (CO2),

- regularly check free access to the room where the fixed extinguishing means are activated and ensure that it does not risk being affected by the smoke from the fire,

- use mobile extinguishing equipment (extinguishers),

- regularly check the expiration dates and revise the instructions for use.

• Notify the emergency services

Collision regulations that apply specifically to fishing:

• The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea , provide that the course of a fishing vessel, showing its marks and fishing lights, is privileged. He must stay the course. He may change it if he doubts the intentions of another ship en route to collision. At the last extremity, maneuver if the collision cannot be avoided.

• The fishing vessel loses its privilege:

- when it overtakes;

- when he is fishing inside a narrow channel or a port access road;

- when it is fishing in the direction of a traffic lane of a DST (traffic separation device) where it must in no way hinder the transit of commercial vessels;

- when its length is less than 20 m, whether it is en route or fishing in the DST.

- Do not forget that transit and even more reverse fishing in a DST is prohibited. DSTs are taken at as low an angle as possible and cross each other perpendicularly. The day before must be reinforced there. Any incident should be reported to the Cross.

• Manoeuvre early and early enough to be understood.

• A fishing vessel must move away from vessels with little or no control over their manoeuvre.

• A fishing vessel underway must not display its lights and fishing marks. She has no special privilege and all non-overtaking vessels on her starboard are privileged. He must manoeuvre to avoid them.

• In the event of reduced visibility, there is no longer a preferred route. Fishing vessels, like others, must reinforce watch, show their lights, emit regulatory sound signals and adapt their speed, especially if they are in a fairway or DST.

Personal protective equipment

• The BCG of the sailor : Boots, Helmet, Gloves: on this subject see the IMP purchasing guides specific to each product.

• Gloves : always work with suitable gloves that comply with the required standards.

• Boots : always work with marine safety boots with reinforced toe cap and non-slip sole.

• Protective helmets : to avoid head trauma, wear a helmet.

• Hearing protection : preventing deafness, which is common among sailors, requires the wearing of hearing protection.

• PFD: work clothes with integrated buoyancy

- PFDs must be worn at all times in all work situations exposed to the risk of falling into the sea. It is compulsory.

- PFD = personal protective equipment against the risk of drowning following a fall into the sea.

- They do not replace the distress equipment (lifejackets and immersion suits to be worn only in the event of evacuation from the ship).

- PFDs give the crew time to react to an accidental fall overboard by one of its members.

- They must be adapted to the work situations and to the morphology of each person. There are models suitable for everyone.

- Consult the IMP buying guide for PFDs

Personal protective equipment: purchasing guides from the Maritime Prevention Institute, request them from the IMP or download them from the IMP website .

Trigger help

• Use the regulatory means of communication and in particular the VHF channel 16. If necessary, trigger the alert by emergency push button of the GMDSS.

• All on board must know how to use the VHF

• Crosses watch over channel 16 and other distress frequencies.

• Urgent messages: repeat Pan Pan (3 times) then

- call to all

- here the fishing vessel… (name of the boat)

- nature of the distress…

- we ask…

- position…

- number of people on board

- here the fishing vessel… Out.

• In the event of life in danger: say Mayday Mayday Mayday

- here the fishing vessel… (name of the boat)

- Mayday, here the fishing vessel…

- position…

- nature of the distress: waterway, capsizing, grounding , collision, fire, man overboard

- number of people on board

- calmly answer questions

• Do not waste the few distress flares on board each ship or raft.

• These means of alert have expiry dates which must not be exceeded.

• Read the instructions for use at each trip and before use.

• In the event of a fault, do not look into the rocket.

Red hand flares

• reduced visibility

• are used to warn nearby ships

• go upwards

• last 1 min

• to pull downwind while holding the tube vertically

• Beware of burns

• If no start, throw after 30 s at sea

Red parachute flares

• visibility 20 miles

• duration over 40 s.

• go upwards

• to pull downwind by holding the tube at 20 ° from the vertical

• do not shoot in the direction of air rescue

• if no departure, throw into the sea after 30 s

Orange Floating Smoke Flare Flares

• For daytime use and light winds

• remove the cap and pull the firing device before throwing it overboard

• will burn for at least 3 minutes emitting a thick orange flare

Implementation of the raft

• have the liferaft assembly checked, read the instructions and train regularly

• To release manually:

- release the exhaust hook from the lashing straps and moor the percussion halyard at a fixed point

- launch the raft downwind and on the calm part of the body of water, then pull the percussion halyard until it swells, then bring it against the edge

- embark without jumping and move away quickly

• Automatic release: if the vessel sinks before action on board, a hydrostatic release is triggered and inflates the raft.


• Abandonment order: after having warned the emergency services, it is to be given by voice, by the skipper or his deputy, at the very last end, because as long as it is floating, the ship is the best raft.

• Precautions: protect yourself against the cold by several layers of clothing, then put on the immersion suits and / or the life jackets and get into the raft, trying to stay as dry as possible.

• To take away: on-board documents, rockets, beacons, other means of spotting, portable VHF (location to be known by all) and finally food and clothing.

Man overboard

• Alert the watch;

• Set the helm all the way from the side where the man fell overboard;

• Activate the SART transponder and / or the MOB key of the GPS or the navigation software to note the time and point of the fall;

• Maintain visual contact with the person, keep an outstretched arm towards the man overboard and throw floats along the course followed;

• Undertake a Boutakov manoeuvre which allows the vessel to pass through the same waters 180 ° from its original course;

• Warn the Cross and nearby ships with a Pan Pan type message ;

• Getting man overboard out almost certainly depends on the type of ship and requires regular training. Following an internship on this subject at least once in your professional life is very useful;

• You can use: either equipment intended for this single use (eg Jason ladders, climbing nets), or use existing equipment such as diving ladders, fenders, and / or parts of the fishing gear. associated with a charging horn.

First aid

• Refer to the available first aid manuals;

• Eliminate or isolate the cause of the accident and remove the victim from the danger zone;

• Identify the consequences of the accident: bleeding, choking, trauma, loss of consciousness;

• Stop the bleeding: stop the wound, prevent blood from reaching the wound (compression bandage or tourniquet), lay the victim in a lateral safety position and cover her;

• Choking: slap the back and compress the abdomen as directed;

• Absence of breathing: mouth to mouth, cardiac massage if there is no pulse, cover the victim;

• Thermal or chemical burns: wash the affected area with plenty of cold water, cover the victim;

• Fractures or strains: no untimely handling, prop up the victim.

To notify the Toulouse maritime medical consultation center, go through the Cross and, if necessary, contact directly 561 493 333

Report an accident

• Maritime work accidents such as maritime occurrences must be declared.

• For accidents and illnesses during navigation, the skipper must make a declaration to the Enim. This is the CGP 102 print (known as the pink sheet). It is essential for opening the rights to social coverage. It must be handed over to Maritime Affairs.

• In the event of an accident, this form must be accompanied by a questionnaire to be filled in on its circumstances (occupation at the time of the events, material element involved, etc.). This form (request it from the service to which the pink sheet is given) is subject to statistical processing carried out on behalf of the Enim by the Maritime Prevention Institute. The results are widely disseminated.

• For sea events (shipwreck, grounding, fire, water leaks, serious injuries, death of a man, etc.) the skipper must draw up a detailed sea report. This report must be certified upon return to port by the Commercial Court or by Maritime Affairs. The sea report is necessary to allow proper treatment of any legal consequences of the sea event and the conduct of a technical investigation, for prevention purposes, by the BEAmer (office for the investigation of sea incidents) . It is also essential for the insurer.

Useful contacts

• National Committee for Maritime Fisheries & Marine Breeding (CNPMEM)

134, avenue de Malakoff, 75116 Paris (

• Safety training - FAF Pêche, B.10 Criée BP127 - 29900 Concarneau

• Maritime prevention institute (IMP), 60 Avenue de la Perrière, 56100 Lorient, tel. 02 97 35 04 30

• Instructions and purchasing guides for personal protective equipment (boots, helmets, gloves, work clothing with integrated buoyancy) can be downloaded from the IMP website (http: // imp-lorient .com /)

• The forms declaring the circumstances of maritime work accidents can be downloaded from the IMP site (

• Regional operational centers for surveillance and rescue

- CROSS Gris-Nez: 0 321 872 187

- CROS-Ma Jobourg: 0 233 527 213

- CROSS Corsen: 0 298 893 131

- CROSS-A Étel: 0 297 553 535

- CROSS- Med La Garde: 0 494 617 110

- CROSSAG Fort de France: 0 596 709 292

- CROSSRU La Réunion: 0 262 434 343

• Maritime medical consultation center (Hopital Purpan / Toulouse), place du Docteur Baylac, tel 05 61 77 24 85, fax 05 61 77 74 51 -

• National establishment for invalids of the navy , 3 place de Fontenoy 75700, sp O7

• Ifremer : Croches, how to prevent them, book to be ordered on:

File produced by the Maritime Prevention Institute for the improvement of health and safety at work

60 Avenue de la Perrière, 56100 Lorient - +33 (0) 2 97 35 04 30

With the help and assistance of the European Union and French maritime administrations.