Training is essential to the future success of the fishing industry and plays a lead role in the development of an industry-wide safety culture, as well as the prevention of injuries and fatalities. There is a wide variety of training requirements and opportunities that fish harvesters should be aware of—all contributing either directly or indirectly to the advancement of safety. Some of the more noteworthy training requirements are:



The Marine Personnel Regulations (MPR) of the Canada Shipping Act outline the training requirements for fish harvesters (masters and crew members) operating fishing vessels. The full regulations/requirements can be found in the REGULATIONS section, but some of the main requirements are listed below. For more information on the specific crewing/training requirements for your vessel, please contact your nearest Transport Canada office. 


The master and the authorized representative of a vessel must ensure that any person assigned a function on that vessel receives onboard familiarization and safety training (set out in TP 4957) before they start to perform any duty on board the vessel.  


Marine Emergency Duties 

Section 205(2)(3) of the MPR outlines the requirements for Marine Emergency Duties (MED) training, and which MED training course is required. It states that every member of the compliment who is required to be on board for the vessel to meet the safe manning requirements, before acquiring a total of 6 months of sea service, holds a training certificate in Marine Emergency Duties. Generally, a MED A1 (STCW Basic Safety) is valid for any vessel fishing in Canadian Waters. For vessels fishing inside 25 miles, an MED A3 certificate is valid. 

Radio Operator Training 

Section 216(2)(a) states that if the vessel is equipped with a VHF radiotelephone installation, a person in charge of the deck watch must hold a radio operator certificate that is appropriate to the class of the vessel and the area of operation.

Marine First Aid

Every fishing vessel is required to have at least one person on board trained in Marine First Aid. Section 205(9) of the MPR states that the master and authorized representative of a vessel must ensure that a person is designated to provide first aid onboard the vessel. The type of Marine First aid certificate required depends on the area of operation of the vessel. 

Master/Mate Certification

As of November 7th, 2016, every fishing vessel in Canada is required to have a certified master with a valid certificate for the size of the vessel, and area of operation. Many vessels will also be required to have a certified mate. Full details of the master certification requirements can be found in section 212(Table 2) of the MPR. Some of the basic master certificate validities are:

  • Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP) or equivalent - Master of a vessel up to 15 gross tonnage or no more than 12m in overall length, fishing within 25 nautical miles of shore 

  • Fishing Master, Fourth Class - Master of a vessel up to 100 gross tonnage fishing in Canadian waters within 200 miles from shore

  • Fishing Master, Third Class - Master of a vessel fishing in Canadian waters within 200 miles from shore

  • Vessels making unlimited voyages (outside Canadian waters/200 miles) require higher levels of master certification

  • For vessels 15 gross tonnage and greater, the master and mate certification requirements can be found on the vessel's Safe Manning Document, issued by Transport Canada

Additional Information/Clarification

For additional information or clarification of the MPRs, and the specific requirements for your vessel, you should refer to the regulations or contact your nearest Transport Canada office. 

St. John's (709) 772-5166
Lewisporte (709) 535-2503 
Corner Brook (709) 637-4870

Provincial OH&S

Much of the focus on fish harvester training in recent years has been on the training requirements of Transport Canada's federal Marine Personnel Regulations (MPR), such as MED, ROC-MC and Fishing Masters training. However, it is important for fish harvesters to remember that provincial OH&S regulations have training requirements that apply to fishing vessels/workplaces as well. The provincial OH&S training requirements include:

First Aid

Similar to the federal regulations, every fishing vessel/workplace is required to have at least one person on board trained in First Aid. 

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) 

Safety Committee/Safety Representative


Fall Protection

For more information on the provincial training requirements for your vessel, contact the provincial OH&S Division at 1 (800) 563-5471



The Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board (PFHCB) is a provincially legislated entity responsible for the registration and certification of fish harvesters in NL (owner/operators and crew members). The PFHCB's certification criteria includes training requirements for all new entrants, and for any fish harvester wishing to pursue certification, upgrading from Apprentice to Level I and Level II. These training requirements and certification levels are very important, as there are linkages between PFHCB certification in NL and DFO federal licensing policy in the NL Region. Most notably, only Level II certified fish harvesters are eligible to hold federal species licences, and only Level I and Level II harvesters are eligible to act as a substitute (designated) operator on an NL federal species licence.


Some of the main PFHCB training requirements include:

  • All new entrants to the fishing industry must complete a Marine Emergency Duties (MED) course (MED A1, A3 or equivalent) before registering for their second fishing season

  • In order to upgrade from Apprentice to Level I, a fish harvester must complete 60 land-based education credits. In order to reach Level II certification, a fish harvester must complete an additional 60 education credits (120 education credits total)

  • These education credits are normally acquired through the completion of fishing-related training such as MED, Radio Operator Training, Fishing Masters Training, or any other training that includes curriculum relevant and applicable to the operation of a fishing enterprise   



Marine Institute 

The vast majority of fisheries training, including safety training and other master and crew training in NL, is delivered by the Marine Institute of Memorial University. Training is offered either at the main campus (St. John's), through community-based delivery throughout the province, or online/distance delivery methods. A sample of the safety-related fisheries training delivered by MI includes:


  • Marine Emergency Duties (MED): MI is certified to deliver all Transport Canada MED training courses, including MED A1, MED A3, STCW Basic Safety, MED B1, MED B2, MED C, and MED D. The Offshore Safety & Survival Centre (OSSC) located in Foxtrap offers all MED courses, and MED A1 and A3 are offered regularly through community-based delivery

  • Fishing Masters (FM IV, III, II, I): Fishing Masters courses of all levels are available at the main campus, and FMIV & FMIII are available through community-based delivery and online/distance delivery

  • Radio Operator Training, Small Vessel Operator Proficiency, Marine First Aid and many other fisheries-related training courses are also available

For more information on fisheries-related training at the Marine Institute, including upcoming scheduled courses, please call (709) 778-0623  


Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board (PFHCB) 

The PFHCB is an authorized deliverer of Transport Canada MED A3 training (valid for vessels fishing inside 25 nautical miles), and a certified deliverer of Canadian Red Cross Marine Basic First Aid. This training is normally delivered as part of a 5-Day Basic Safety for Fish Harvesters course. This course also meets the Transport Canada equivalency for a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, valid as master of a fishing vessel operating within 2 nautical miles from shore.

On a seasonal basis, or upon request, the PFHCB delivers its 5-day Basic Safety for Fish Harvesters course in communities throughout the province. Marine Basic First Aid is also offered as a stand-alone course, upon request. For more information, or to be placed on a list for upcoming courses, contact the PFHCB at (709) 722-8170

Other Providers of Fisheries-Related/Required training

There are several other NL training providers delivering a variety of safety courses such as First Aid, WHMIS, Committee Training, Confined Space Entry, etc. 


WorkplaceNL offers a certification & training directory of WorkplaceNL-approved courses and providers. It includes detailed information on upcoming course dates. Click here to link to the directory.

Research is vital to any long-term safety strategy, and therefore a key component of the NL-FHSA mandate. Supporting and promoting safety research, partnering/collaborating on safety research initiatives, as well as staying informed on the latest fisheries-related safety research is a priority of the


NL-FHSA Led Research Activity


MITACS Accelerate - Improving Fishing Safety in Newfoundland and Labrador

During its consultations with fish harvesters and the development of an industry-needs assessment, the

NL-FHSA identified extreme weather events, noise exposure, and operational stability as three major hazards in the <65' fleet. 

In an effort to learn more about these potential hazards, and reduce fish harvester's exposure to these hazards, the NL-FHSA has partnered with Memorial University's SafetyNet Centre for OHS Research to research these three areas.   

Funding was accessed through MITACS (MITACS is a non-profit, national research organization that funds research and training programs for undergraduate, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows in partnership with universities, industry, and government in Canada).


A description of the completed research, and the intended outcomes are as follows:

  • The Noise Project sought to research, evaluate, and communicate short-term and long-term solutions to reduce noise. The project assessed opportunities to effectively reduce engine noise throughout the vessel, appropriate hearing protection for use in the engine room, and communication headsets on deck. It considered long-term strategies to control the noise at the source—the engine—and opportunities to reduce/dampen noise through vessel retrofits.

  • The Weather Project research sought to create a better understanding of decision-making processes in the planning and execution of fishing trips, the availability of adequate weather forecasting information, and how this information is used by harvesters in their fishing practices. This was necessary in order to move forward with a set of recommendations that harvesters can use to ensure safe operation. Similarly, the project sought to assess the distribution and availability of ports of refuge in Newfoundland & Labrador to help determine if existing ports require improvements, and if additional ports are required to meet the needs of a diverse fishing industry. 22 fish harvesters were interviewed as part of this project. They were asked questions about their vessel, types of fisheries, fishing background, weather and forecasting, ports of refuge, and safety certification, equipment, and training. From the interviews that we conducted, we learned that fish harvesters are savvy consumers of forecast information. They draw from a variety of public and private forecasting services to make decisions about the weather. An interactive plain language map summarizing the research can be found here. Recommendations from the research are currently under development. 

  • The objective of the Stability Project was to develop information that could provide small commercial fishing vessel operators with an understanding of the stability issues that can lead to capsizing and to identify a training approach and related tools that would help reduce stability risks through operation, outfitting, and design specifications.

  • The intended outcomes of this MITACS research project were the development of educational programming, and tools/resources that will help mitigate noise-induced hearing loss, promote and improve stability best practices, and reduce the risk of exposure to extreme weather events. 

MEOPAR Roundtable on Forecast Use in Atlantic Canada - In February of 2016, researchers at Memorial University worked with the NL-FHSA to organize a roundtable discussion on forecast usage as part of ocean climate research funded by the Marine Environment Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) Network. A full copy of the report can be found here. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada: Future Forecasting Tools Development - As part of the university partnerships developed through weather project research and forecasting roundtable, the NL-FHSA invited Senior Meteorologist Devon Telford to present at the 2018 Safety Symposium. Devon Telford presented on possible ways to improve the delivery of marine forecasts, such as wave/sea state hazards and collected feedback from participants. 

SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health & Safety Research: 

SafetyNetThe SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research is a community alliance for multi-disciplinary research, knowledge exchange, and education in OH&S, based at Memorial University. The SafetyNet Centre has a strong history of collaborating with fishing industry partners on fisheries safety research projects. A list of the current and past research can be found here:


SafetyNet Research Projects

Ocean Frontier Institute Module I: OFI has dedicated an entire module to marine governance, which includes a focus on marine safety issues. 

Other Fishing Industry Related Safety Research Activity:

Scandinavian Report on What Works to Improve Fishing Safety