Fa­tal­ity-free year a first for Bri­tish fish­ing sec­tor.

Ex­clu­sive: No ca­su­al­ties in last 12 months a his­toric first for UK in­dus­try

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - BUSINESS - BY KEITH FINDLAY

An in­dus­try long re­garded as one of the most haz­ardous in Scot­land has gone a full year with­out a fa­tal­ity.

The Marine In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch, which in­ves­ti­gates ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing UK ves­sels world­wide and all boats in Bri­tain’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters, con­firmed what is be­lieved to be a his­toric first.

As of yes­ter­day, there had been no fa­tal­i­ties recorded for the whole UK fish­ing fleet since Septem­ber 2 last year.

In­dus­try chiefs hailed it as a “fan­tas­tic achieve­ment” for an “in­her­ently dan­ger­ous busi­ness” fol­low­ing con­certed ef­forts to im­prove safety at sea.

Si­mon Pot­ten, head of safety and train­ing at seafood in­dus­try body Seafish, said data go­ing back to 1992 sug­gested the fa­tal­ity-free year was un­prece­dented in at least the past 25 years.

Higher ca­su­alty numbers in the less safety-con­scious times be­fore records be­gan mean the mile­stone is un­likely to have been achieved be­fore then.

Mr Pot­ten said: “There are en­cour­ag­ing signs that the UK fish­ing in­dus­try is be­com­ing safer.

“Every fish­ing ves­sel owner, skip­per and crew mem­ber should feel jus­ti­fi­ably proud of the con­tri­bu­tion they have made to achieve this mile­stone and want to ex­tend it fur­ther.”

“Own­ers and skip­pers iden­tify and adopt safer work­ing prac­tices”

He added that in­dus­try­wide mes­sages about the need for safer work­ing prac­tices seemed to be get­ting through to own­ers, skip­pers and crew.

And joint ini­tia­tives by fish­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, Seafish, the RNLI, the Fish­er­men’s Mis­sion and others were also help­ing to raise aware­ness, he con­tin­ued.

Re­cent ini­tia­tives in­clude the pro­mo­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of con­stantwear per­sonal flota­tion de­vices to help pre­vent man over­board fa­tal­i­ties – the big­gest sin­gle cause of death among fish­er­men – and sub­stan­tial fund­ing to sup­port fish­er­men want­ing to up­date or de­velop their skills and knowl­edge.

Seafish chief ex­ec­u­tive Mar­cus Cole­man said: “This is a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment by the fish­ing in­dus­try and goes to show what can be achieved when own­ers and skip­pers iden­tify and adopt safer work­ing prac­tices.

“How­ever, there is still much that can be done to make fish­ing safer and we will con­tinue our ef­forts to sup­port the in­dus­try on this.”

Scot­tish Fish­er­men’s Fed­er­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Ber­tie Arm­strong said: “A year with­out fa­tal­i­ties in the in­dus­try is ob­vi­ously a pos­i­tive out­come, but fish­ing is an in­her­ently dan­ger­ous busi­ness and no one will be com­pla­cent.”

The nine UK fish­er­men who died in 2016 were lost in ac­ci­dents be­tween April and Septem­ber 2, when Lee Ren­ney was dragged over­board from the pot­ter Pauline Mary off Hartle­pool.

We will all be de­lighted and hugely re­lieved that the fish­ing in­dus­try has not had a sin­gle fa­tal­ity in the past year.

Ex­perts be­lieve it is the first time that this has been achieved in the past quar­ter of a cen­tury, which gives a clear in­di­ca­tion of what an ex­tra­or­di­nary step for­ward this is for the in­dus­try. Sea fish­ing is quite pos­si­bly the most dan­ger­ous job in Bri­tish in­dus­try, with the threat of sud­den death lurk­ing in all di­rec­tions for the en­tire jour­ney.

Try to imag­ine work­ing in that en­vi­ron­ment and un­der such threat for 24 hours a day, and of­ten in hor­ren­dous sea con­di­tions.

How­ever, the hu­man body and mind can adapt to the most shock­ing risks and pres­sures and, per­haps, be­come com­pla­cent or even blase about the dan­ger. Hence the num­ber of fish­ing ac­ci­dents that have been at­trib­uted in of­fi­cial reports to hu­man er­ror or fail­ure to fol­low ba­sic safety rules.

Crews have been bat­tered con­stantly with waves of safety warn­ings from in­dus­try lead­ers and watch­dogs, and it looks like the mes­sage is get­ting through at last. Long may it con­tinue be­cause too many fam­i­lies have suf­fered un­told grief.

SAFETY FIRST: Im­prove­ments in safer work­ing prac­tices on fish­ing ves­sels have led to the un­prece­dented record of no fa­tal­i­ties in a year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.