Fishermen forced to lose weight over new ‘fat’ trawler rules

New fishing rules that require a doctor-approved medical certificate before you can set sail are rocking the boat for fishermen who are rushing to the gym, dieting and seeking legal advice. From November, trawlermen and women wanting to go to the sea will have to be signed off by a physician and it’s reported that any crew with a body mass index of 35 or over could be banned.

The new rules have been branded “ludicrous” by fishermen and the industry as a whole are considering legal action, the Telegraph reports.

The Government say the changes are designed to ensure no one puts themselves at risk, but opponents argue there is no evidence a person’s weight puts their life in danger at sea.

Tony Heinemann, who is 6’ 3” and 20 stone, told the Telegraph his BMI was 37, above the new 35 limit. He fishes for bass and pollock near Plymouth on his seven-metre boat the Gloria Rose

He said: “I’m 20 stone. I’m 6ft three, the weight I’d need to be, I don’t think I was that weight when I was 12. It’s ludicrous. BMI has been discredited.”

“They are playing with people’s livelihoods. A lot of people haven’t bothered to go to the doctor yet as they are at their wits end and scared to be told they are unfit to fish.”

The new rules come from the International Labour Organization’s Work in Fishing Convention from 2018, that called for medical certificates for all people operating fishing boats, called ML5 and ENG1 certificates.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “By getting either a ML5 or ENG1 certificate, fishermen have the reassurance that they are medically fit enough to do their work without causing a risk to themselves or others.

“We are supporting and preparing fishermen in the lead-up to this requirement.”

The agency added a “grandfather rights” policy may allow those fishermen worried about the new certificates to continue working as their must be a very good reason to disqualify them.

The chief executive of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, which represents around 80 percent of the UK fleet, said he had asked the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for an urgent meeting over the issue.

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