Sea fishing is a high-risk sector. Collisions, incidents on board, damages to submarine cables and hull and machinery damages frequently occur.
Leeward has the in-house knowledge and international contacts to advise and assist shipping companies and their insurers in these cases.
In order to remedy the alleged loss of fish stocks in the seas, the public authorities use different techniques, ranging from minimum mesh sizes to quota and the obligation to land the catches. Where quotas per species provide for a maximum quantity of a given species that may be landed, the obligation to land means that undersized fish must also be landed so that these can be charged against the quota.
Leeward assists shipping companies and industry associations with all their questions concerning, inter alia, total allowable catches (TACs), fishing opportunities, choke species, minimum conservation reference size. In addition, we regularly act on behalf of shipping companies before the courts and tribunals in this matter.
Maritime board of investigation
Since 1926, Belgium set up a special judicial body to assess breaches of maritime safety regulations on board seagoing vessels and fishing vessels, including professional ethics, safety and protection of the marine environment, to name but a few. The Maritime Board of Investigation - better know as "the green table"- has authority to withdraw or suspend licences and certificates and acts as an appeal body against decisions of Port State Control. It is a multidisciplinary body in which, in addition to professional magistrates, there are also ten assessors.
Since 2012, the MBI has transferred its specific task of investigating the causes of maritime accidents to the Federal Marine Accident Investigation Authority ("FOSO"). The FOSO does not serve to identify the cause of a maritime incident.
Leeward represents fishermen and shipowners before the MBI.
Maritime labour law
The employment law applicable to crews on board of fishing vessels differs significantly from general employment law. The employment contract for sea-going fishing vessels is subject to its own legislation on wages, duration and termination of the emplyment contract , rights and obligations of the shipowner and fishermen during the sea-going voyage and in the event of an accident requiring medical assistance, possibly with repatriation.
Leeward advises shipping companies and fishermen with regard to all social law aspects of the profession.