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Rest Hours at Sea

Written by Dermot Conway
European Communities (Workers on Board Sea Going Fishing Vessels) (Organisation of Working Time) Regulations 2003.

These Regulations were introduced by the then Minister with responsibility for Fisheries, Dermot Ahern TD.

The regulations introduced several provisions of European Law and created several obligations on the Master of a Sea Fishing vessel registered in Ireland. 

The Regulations provide for the creation of a serious of obligations on both owners and masters. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to a criminal prosecution.

Requirement for Rest

The regulations provide as follows:

1. In a 48 hour period over a period not exceeding 12 months, the maximum hours or work shall not exceed 14 hours in any 24 hours period and 72 hours in any 7 day period. 
2. In the alternative, the minimum hours of rest shall not be less than 10 hours in any 24 hour period and 77 hours in any 7 day period. 
3. The period of rest must be at least 6 hours.
4. You cannot have a gap of more than 14 hours between rest periods.
5. There is a general provision that these rules may be disregarded where the hours are exceeded due to providing assistance to another person or vessel in distress. 

Obligation to keep Records

The Regulation prescribes a form that needs to be maintained which contains a daily record of the hours worked and the rest period granted to each hand. 

There is some respite, in that the records can be completed up to a month in arrears. 

The Master shall sign the record after completing the entries.

7 days after the end of the month, in which the work took place, the crew member shall be given a copy of the record that relates to him.

The records must be kept for one year from the date that they are made by the owner. These records can be requested during that period and must be produced. 


An inspection of a boat and its records may taken place with or without notice. These inspections can take place on foot of a complaint or indeed at the discretion of the Authorised officer. 

Power of Detention

Where an inspector is satisfied that there has been a failure to comply with the obligations as set out above, the inspector can take such steps as the office believes necessary to bring about compliance or indeed the inspector can detain the vessel. 


Failure to comply with the obligations as set out is an offence as is obstructing a officer in the course of an inspection. 

Likewise, failure to comply with a request by an Officer or indeed giving false or misleading statements to an officer, is likewise an offence.


On prosecution in the District Court fines of up to €3,000 may be incurred.

Dermot Conway
+353 21 4901000 

Last Updated on 25 September 2009














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