Following the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 to the yachting industry there have been a number of new certification requirements for crew. As of the 7 August 2014 all unqualified chefs on board commercial vessels who cook for 10 or more crew will be required to hold an official Ship’s Cook Certificate in addition to their Food Safety Certificate. This relates to all vessels to which the MLC code applies and to chefs who do not hold certification recognised by their flag state.

At present, the Ship’s Cook Certificate requires unqualified chefs to undergo a six-month-long course which, as with much of the MLC 2006, is aimed at the commercial industry and is designed to ensure that chefs cooking for crew have a set standard of food quality and hygiene on board. Because of the apparent unsuitability for the superyacht industry, because of the standard of chefs usually employed and length of the course, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is currently in discussions with the Professional Yachting Association (PYA) to find an alternative before the implementation date.

Credit: Lucas Sprague

“40 per cent of our chefs in the industry don’t have certificates so we are trying to find an alternative,” explained Joey Meen, PYA director of training and certification, during the PYA Sea Changes seminar held in Antibes. “Hopefully a two-week assessment that covers hygiene, quality and cultural issues is the best option instead of a six-month course. But we are still debating on the length of assessment.” She added that the PYA is currently actively consulting with the MCA regarding the logistics of exactly how and where this assessment certificate can be obtained.

During the seminar, one audience member pointed out that, even if a compromise was found, this would still be an issue for the industry. “If the intended assessment is to take three weeks, the implementation date is 7 August and the season starts in under five weeks,” he pointed out. “How are we supposed to implement this?”

“The industry has known that this was coming since 2006,” replied Roger Towner, chief examiner at the MCA. “The MCA is open to an alternative but it is up to the industry to present it pretty quick.” He added that chefs with alternative qualifications should approach the MCA as soon as possible in order to verify if these will be accepted. will keep readers up to date with any developments regarding the PYA and MCA’s discussions and any outcomes.

Update: 11 August, 20214

On 7 August, 2014, the same day the MLC came into force for UK-flagged vessels, amendments were proposed by the MCA as to the date of implementation for those needing the Ship’s Cook Certificate. 

A member of the MCA commented: “There have been a significant number of enquiries from ships’ cooks requesting information about their qualifications. It is apparent there are [are many] employed as ships’ cooks but without a Ship’s Cook Certificate of Competency issued or accepted under the Ship’s Cooks regulations, 1981. It is therefore proposed to allow these persons to continue in their current position for six months, ie. until February 2015 to allow them time to complete the conversion assessment.”

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