Seafish, the Seafood industry body, is urging Western Isles commercial fishermen to apply for a funded place on a locally-run training course run by the Western Isles Sea Fisheries Training Association to help improve safety at sea.

The funding for free training, which is available to all commercial fishermen to refresh and advance safety knowledge and skills, is available until 31 March 2018, when current funding is due to end.  

It can be used to attend a wide range of locally held safety courses; from basic training and safety refreshers, to more advanced courses such as navigation, engineering and stability awareness and a Skipper qualification.

The call from Seafish comes as the industry reflects on a ten-year period that saw over 3,300 accidents involving UK fishing vessels, with over 500 fishermen suffering serious injury and almost 100 losing their lives.

Research conducted by Seafish found that 55% of fishermen disagreed that accidents at sea are mostly down to events beyond their control.  With this in mind, the organisation is urging all fishermen to take steps towards being safer at sea by applying for a funded place on a training course.

John, a recent attendee of one of the courses, commented: “It’s so important for fishermen to undertake training to improve safety onboard.

“Each course I attended gave me new knowledge and skills that I used onboard my fishing vessel and shared with my crew members.”

Simon Potten, Head of Safety and Training at Seafish, said: “Despite advances in the design and construction of safer fishing vessels, we are still seeing too many accidents every year and far too many serious injuries and fatalities to crew.  Many of these could have been avoided.

“Safe working practices are taught on training courses, but the knowledge and skills gained still have to be put into practice by fishermen when back working onboard their vessels.

“Seafish has managed to secure several million pounds in funding for fishermen’s training over the last 20 years, but we can’t be sure of future funding.  It’s incredibly important over this Christmas and New Year period, that the Western Isles commercial fishermen take time to consider the training options available to them and apply for funding before it runs out at the end of March 2018.  Not only could it save a life or prevent a life-changing injury, but the certificates and qualifications gained can also open up other income-earning opportunities.  Act now.  Don’t delay.”

Approved Training Provider, Western Isles Sea Fisheries Training Association, will be offering courses from now until March.  A full list of these upcoming courses can be found on their website.

To find your local training provider, or to apply for funding, visit

Funding for this programme is provided by the European Maritime Fisheries Fund and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.  Funding applications will be accepted up until 31st March 2018.