Safe crews fish more

Jangles’ Story

Fatigue is a serious problem in commercial fishing, causing many devastating and sometimes fatal accidents. But it doesn't need to be a problem. By understanding fatigue – its triggers, warning signs, and consequences – you can keep on top of it, and minimise the risk of your next fishing trip turning into a tragedy.

We've done our homework on fatigue to make it easy for you to do yours. Check out our insights, your feedback and industry tips below.

34% of commercial fishermen have fallen asleep at the wheel

a group of eight paper origami boats placed on a striped backdrop.

Early in 2018 we carried out a survey on the awareness and understanding of fatigue, focusing on a group of 83 commercial fishermen who said they spend more than a day at sea at a time. Read a summary of their feedback, including how they manage fatigue.

Read more


From luxury launch to unsalvageable wreck

a large pleasure craft that appears to have collided with some rocks and is partially submerged as a result.

A highly experienced skipper and his crew had slept well. They hadn't consumed any alcohol, were operating in good conditions, and had set all watchkeeping alarms. They did ‘everything right’, so what could possibly go wrong?

Get the full story


Wake up to fatigue

a small fishing vessel that is listing slightly in moderate ocean swells that appears to have grounded.

Would you recognise fatigue – in yourself or someone else? Do you know what warning signs to be aware of? Or what things can make fatigue worse? Learn how to recognise fatigue and what to do when you see it. Also find out about the dangers of building up a ‘sleep debt’.

Recognise fatigue


A surprising fact about fatigue


If you think ‘feeling tiredness’ is a key sign of fatigue, here's some important news for you. When you're fatigued, you mightn't even feel sleepy at all. In fact, it's possible to both look and feel alert when being at risk of falling asleep.

Discover the real signs of fatigue


The hidden costs of fatigue

a small fishing vessel that has grounded on some rocks on a shoreline that the tide has gone out on

Some skippers and operators choose to ignore fatigue, mainly because managing it – with things like sleep rosters and extra staff – can cost time and money. The trouble is, the cost of ignoring fatigue can be far greater. Is it really worth the risk?

Uncover the costs of fatigue


5 ways to manage fatigue

a group of six deckhands are tending to nets on a large fishing vessel.

What do other skippers say about sleeping on board? Under what circumstances do we recommend installing a watchkeeping alarm? What are some strategies for managing safety during trips home? Find out now.

Take control of fatigue


Can't sleep? Try these suggestions from other skippers

a large container ship is sailing on calm seas and is a silhouette against a low set orange sun in the back drop.

Sleep doesn't always come easily, especially at sea. That's why we asked skippers for tips on how to tackle sleep on board – and researched other ways to help you put fatigue to bed. Remember, a good night's sleep before sailing should always be a priority!

Check out other skippers' sleeping tips


Up your energy levels and lower your risk

a photo of a dish of food that has a single brown fish on it that's surrounded with lemons and tomatoes.

Working long hours with limited sleep puts you at risk of fatigue. But other factors, including poor eating habits and not drinking enough water, can also be to blame. Find out how eating well and staying hydrated can help lower your risk of fatigue.

Boost your energy now


Develop a fatigue management plan

a man sitting in the cabin of a sea vessel is sitting down and completing some paper work on a clip board.

The best way to minimise the risk of fatigue is to follow a fatigue management plan. Find out how to write and implement a comprehensive fatigue management plan for your operation. 

Develop your plan now


Maritime NZ 2018
The mystery of Jangle Jim

What HSWA says about fatigue

Fatigue is a risk that must be managed. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, all crew must take reasonable care to ensure that nothing they do on board harms themselves or any other person. Both operators and skippers must make sure the vessel is safe and involve the entire crew in managing any risks. Now is the time for you to raise any safety concerns you have with your skipper or operator.


Report any accident

A master or skipper must report any accident, incident or serious harm injury under section 31 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994. This applies to all New Zealand vessels. You must report an accident “as soon as practicable”. This means as soon as you are able to do so after you have secured the safety of people, your boat and the environment, and when you have communication available.

Sometimes people are concerned that reporting an accident or incident to MNZ will result in prosecution. In exceptional circumstances, MNZ may use the information provided to support an investigation, however this is very rarely the case.

This information is general guidance only. If you have questions about your responsibilities under HSWA, we suggest talking to your local maritime officer; but for specific advice about your legal duties or setting up your business, we recommend talking to a lawyer.

Get the crew on board

Spread the word about fatigue with our brochure & poster.

[PDF: 799kB, 3 pages]