STCW Licensing Requirements for Commercial Fishermen
The following is an overview of STCW requirements that apply to the commercial fishing industry. It has been approved by LCDR Tom Curley, Chief of Licensing, USCG Office of Certification and Marine Inspection (OCMI).
The Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping, 1978 (STCW) is an International Convention which sets qualifications and training standards for masters, officers, and watchkeeping personnel serving aboard seagoing merchant ships. In 1995 STCW was amended with several additional requirements, including a much higher level of training and proof of competency. (The full requirements can be found in 46 CFR Parts 10, 12, and 15.) All commercial fishing and fish-tender vessels are exempt from STCW regardless of GRT; however, dedicated processors are not.
If you are in the process of obtaining, upgrading, or renewing a license and wish to have or are required to have an STCW-95 certificate, find out what training you are required to have before you begin attending expensive courses. The requirements are found in 46 CFR 10.205, 10.209, and manning sites 15.1101, .1103 and .1105.
Keep in mind that dedicated processors do not need STCW Basic Safety Training (a 5-day USCG-approved course) if they prove compliance with the safety training requirements of 46 CFR Part 28 (Drill Instructor certification). Also, there are substitutions allowed for some of the requirements, and you may not be required to attend a particular course (i.e, ARPA, GMDSS, lifecraft proficiency) if your vessel does not carry such equipment.
Commercial fishing and fish-tender vessels, although currently exempt until final ruling, are required by the FCC to carry GMDSS equipment. However, because fishing and fish-tender vessels are not subject to STCW, they need only meet the FCC licensing requirement. The current FCC licenses are issued after simply passing a test; whereas the full STCW GMDSS course is a 70-hour USCG-approved course. Do be aware, however, that any limitations or substitutions in training will be noted on your STCW certificate.