New fishing vessel stability report

Commercial fishing remains the most dangerous peacetime occupation in most countries. Small fishing boats undertake low-impact, sustainable fishing activities, but are also the most vulnerable to accidents at sea due to their size relative to the sea state, and are the most likely to capsize due to insufficient stability.

The Wolfson Unit has produced new experimental evidence on the survivability in waves of a typical 10 metre fishing vessel, in relation to stability criteria and guidance presented in the current UK Code of Practice (CoP) for small fishing vessels. A key objective of this study was to establish the level of safety from capsizing enabled by the Wolfson Stability Method over a range of load conditions representing actual fishing operations.

The Wolfson report recommends that the CoP distance-based restrictions be replaced with seastate-based guidance according to the Wolfson Method, and that alternative arrangements for compliance be enacted for selected vessel designs.

This study was conducted in partnership with the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Public Policy | Southampton, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency acting as independent observers. The test vessel was selected in discussion with the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.


Wolfson Unit fishing vessel tank model