Key maritime legislation and publications

Please note this page contains links to external sites

While there is an abundance of maritime legislation, the following material represents some background on the most relevant issues. Should you have a query on other aspects of maritime legislation, queries can be forwarded to:

Personal Flotation Devices - Wear a PFD/Lifejacket - It's the LAW!

The current legislation on the mandatory wearing of lifejackets/personal flotation devices is the Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 921 of 2005) as amended by Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 349 of 2012) and further amended by S.I. 400 of 2018

These regulations govern the operation of pleasure craft including personal watercraft. They include provisions relating to age restrictions, the carriage and use of lifejackets and restrictions on the use of alcohol and drugs.

Personal Flotation Devices and Fishing Vessels

S.I .No. 586 of 2001 requires all crew members of a fishing vessel to wear a personal flotation device at all times when on the deck of any fishing vessel or boat regardless of its size, whether at sea, in harbour or coming to and from moorings. S.I. No. 401 of 2018 amends S.I. No. 586 of 2001, to update the criteria for the marked personal flotation device in these regulations.

Fishing Vessel (Personal Flotation Devices) Regulations, S.I. 586 of 2001 as amended by S.I. 401 of 2018

Passenger Boats

S.I. No. 273 of 2002 was introduced in June 2002 under section 18 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1992, as amended. These Regulations apply to all passenger boats licensed under the 1992 Act, as amended. Life-saving appliances are outlined under each class of passenger boat. The Regulations have been amended on several occasions as detailed across.

The Merchant Shipping (Passenger Boat) Regulations 2002 as amended by S.I. 555 of 2002 and S.I. 648 of 2003.

Passenger Ships

These Regulations give effect to Directive 2009/45/EC. In Irish law the purpose is the introduction of a uniform level of safety of life and property on new and existing passenger ships and high-speed passenger craft, when they are engaged on domestic voyages. A technical, updating amendment was made in 2017.

European Communities (Passenger Ships) Regulations 2011 as amended by S.I. 295 of 2017

Fishing Vessels over 24 Metres

Fishing vessels over 24 metres are surveyed in accordance with the IMO's Torremolinos Protocol, which was given effect in the EU by Council Directive 97/70 as amended. The Directive harmonises standards for seagoing fishing vessels of 24 metres in length and over insofar as the Annex to the Torremolinos Protocol applies. The Irish regulations transposing the requirements of the Directive are listed and linked to across.

EC (Safety of Fishing Vessels) Regulations, S.I. 417 of 2002 as amended by S.I. 72 of 2003 and S.I. 633 of 2003, and Fishing Vessels (Safety Provisions) Regulations, S.I. 418 of 2002 as amended by S.I. 634 of 2003.

Fishing Vessels between 15 and 24 metres

The Merchant Shipping (Safety of Fishing Vessels) (15-24 Metres) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 640 of 2007) enhances the safety of fishing vessels and their crew in the 15 - 24 metre length category.

Merchant Shipping (Safety of Fishing Vessels (15-24 Metres) Regulations, S.I. 640 of 2007

Fishing Vessels Less than 15 Metres in length overall

The Department's Code of Practice for Fishing Vessels of less than 15m in length overall applies. This Code sets minimum standards of safety for the vessels to protect all persons on board. Surveys of these vessels are conducted by external surveyors who are included on a panel.

Code of Practice

Current Panel of Surveyors for Fishing Vessels of less than 15m in Length overall

The following Regulation also applies to all Fishing Vessels Greater than 15 Metres:

Fishing Vessel (Fees) Regulations 2008

Marine Equipment

The Regulations outline the obligations of the manufacturers, importers, authorised representatives and distributors when making certain marine equipment available on the market or when placing such equipment on an Irish ship. These Regulations implement Directive 2014/90/EU into Irish law.

European Union (Marine Equipment) Regulations 2017, S.I. 177 of 2017, as amended by S.I. 312 of 2018.

Seafarer Training - Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for seafarers (STCW)

The Regulations transpose and implement into Irish law Directive 2008/106/EC (as amended by Directive 2012/35/EU) on the minimum level of training of seafarers.

European Union (Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) Regulations 2014, S.I. 242 of 2014

Living and Working Conditions

Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC)

The Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) was adopted at the 94th International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Maritime Session, on 23rd February 2006 in Geneva. The Convention seeks to ensure that the employment and social rights of seafarers are fully implemented.

Ireland ratified the Convention on the 21 July 2014. It entered into force for Ireland on 21 July 2015, 12 months after the date our ratification was registered with the ILO.

The convention is organised into general areas under five Titles:

• Title 1: Minimum requirements for seafarers to work on a ship

• Title 2: Conditions of employment

• Title 3: Accommodation, recreational facilities, food and catering

• Title 4: Health protection, medical care, welfare and social security protection

• Title 5: Compliance and enforcement

Prior to ratification, a full Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) was undertaken including a cost/benefit analysis and an investigation into the impact of the convention on the sector in Ireland. The RIA is available to view here.

The MLC is implemented by a package of Regulations including the following:

Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Flag State Inspection and Certification) Regulations 2014. - S.I. No. 376 of 2014

Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Shipowners' Liabilities and Repatriation) Regulations 2014. - S.I. No. 375 of 2014

Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Accommodation, Recreational Facilities, Food, Catering and Ships Cooks) Regulations 2014. -S.I. No. 374 of 2014

Merchant Shipping (Maritime Labour Convention) (Seafarer Employment Agreement and Wages) Regulations 2014. - S.I. No. 373 of 2014

Merchant Shipping (Medical Examinations) Regulations 2014. - S.I. No. 246 of 2014

European Communities (Merchant Shipping) (Organisation of Working Time) (Amendment) Regulations 2014. - S.I. No. 245 of 2014

Protection of Young Persons (Employment)(Exclusion of Workers in the Fishing and Shipping Sectors) Regulations 2014. - S.I. No. 357 of 2014

ILO Work in Fishing Convention C188

The ILO Work in Fishing Convention (C188) was adopted at the 96th session of the International Labour Conference in June 2007. It aims to ensure decent conditions of work in the commercial fishing sector with regard to:

• Minimum requirements for work on board;

• Conditions of service;

• Accommodation and food;

• Occupational safety and health protection; and

• Medical care and social security.

The Convention entered into force on 16 November 2017 following the required 10 ratifications necessary for entry into force. Ireland has not yet ratified the Convention.

Ireland supports the Convention and must bring it into force via national legislation. It is envisaged that both primary and secondary legislation will be required in order to meet our legislative obligations under the Convention. Preparations are underway in this regard.

Directive (EU) 2017/159

On 31 January 2017, Council Directive (EU) 2017/159 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. This Directive contains a Social Partnership Agreement, concluded on 21 May 2012, which aims to implement the Work in Fishing Convention. The Directive is due to be transposed into Irish law by 15 November 2019.

A stakeholder consultation was published via Marine Notice 42 of 2018 which sought views of fishers and employers on both the Convention and the Directive. Following receipt of submissions work is progressing on the legislation necessary to transpose the Directive.

Useful links:

International Labour Organisation - Maritime Labour Convention, 2006

International Labour Organisation - International Labour Standards on Fishers