NEVER AGAIN: Family of tragic Purbeck Isle fisherman backs lifejacket campaign

Dorset Echo: Maxine Prowse Maxine Prowse

THE mother of tragic Purbeck Isle fisherman Robert Prowse has backed a new safety at sea campaign calling for all fishermen to wear lifejackets.

The 'Sea You Home Safe campaign', fronted by TV broadcaster, Monty Halls, is calling for the 12,000 UK fishermen to consider their safety before setting out to sea.

The campaign comes two years after the Purbeck Isle tragedy, where three lives were lost when the Weymouth fishing vessel went to work but never returned.

David McFarlane and crewmates Jack Craig and Robert Prowse were lost to the sea off Portland on May 17, 2012.

A huge search and rescue mission took place and the wreck of the Purbeck Isle was later located on the seabed.

The body of skipper David McFarlane, 35, was found on May 18.

Jack Craig, aged 21, was found off the coast of Devon on August 9. Robert Prowse, aged 20, remains missing.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch into the sinking of the Weymouth fishing vessel found none of the trio wore a lifejacket.

Robert's mother Maxine Prowse spearheaded her own campaign, called Prowsie's Progress, in June last year for new laws on lifejackets.

She told the Echo: “When these tragedies happen the world completely collapses around family and friends left behind.

“I fully support the new campaign 100 per cent and think that wearing a lifejacket should be law - much like wearing a seatbelt in a car.

“To hear the new statistics that only 25 per cent of fishermen wear lifejackets is shocking and upsetting; what's the point in having a lifejacket if you don't use it?

“I beg you to make a promise to yourselves, your families and your friends that you will never go to sea without a lifejacket.”

Research launched by Seafish - the industry authority on seafood - has shown a quarter of fishermen have experienced a significant accident at sea where their life was at risk.

Over half of the fishermen surveyed agreed that their job was dangerous, yet only 25 per cent of fishermen said they regularly wear a lifejacket.

Working closely with the fishing industry, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the RNLI and the Fishermen's Mission, Seafish is backing a Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) initiative to promote the wearing of lifejackets by fishermen.

Andy Alcock, secretary of the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fishermen's and Boatmen's Association, said: “Anything that can help save lives at sea is a positive thing and the association would back that 100 per cent.

“For example, last year we purchased 50 personal locator beacons.

If something comes on the market that is going to assist in the health and safety of our members then we would be completely in favour.”

PANEL WEYMOUTH fisherman Hugh Cox created a new device designed to save lives on land and sea last year.

The device, created with Aquatec and called System JFR, comprises a case and Kevlar lanyard attached to a Personal Locator Beacon.

In the wake of the Purbeck Isle tragedy Mr Cox said he felt compelled to do something to help.

The device attaches to the fishermen's lifejackets or waterproofs, and if they go over the side, they can activate the beacon and it will transmit a unique code and GPS location to search and rescue satellites.

The name- System JFR - System Jack, Farley, Robert - is a tribute to the three men who lost their lives in the Purbeck Isle tragedy in May 2012.

Hugh Cox said: “It's common knowledge that most fishermen don't wear lifejackets, including myself sometimes, because they're difficult and get in the way of working.

“However, since the Purbeck Isle incident, safety awareness among fishermen has risen considerably and lifejacket technology is constantly evolving.

This includes a new lifejacket I've heard of with a pocket to include a personal locator beacon and another which attaches to braces.”

Maxine Prowse added: “When I came to the launch of Hugh's device last year I left with an overwhelming feeling that at least 50 fishermen were safer at sea.

“With this new campaign hopefully that can be said for all fishermen.”

Comments (1)

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7:24am Fri 7 Mar 14

southwellman says...

While I whole heartily agree with crew wearing life jackets I know working in an industry where it is mandatory to don one. Crew simply do not like them. They often get in the way, the can cause neck fatigue after many hours of wearing then and they can also be set off if too much water comes over the side. The same can be said for the PLB. Again it is mandatory to don them before a boat trip is made, PLB have been around for many years and I cannot see what is so good about the JFR compared to some of the leading units on the market. What we need to look at is life jackets that are extremely light and have no baulk to them so enable fishermen to want to wear them.. I am afraid until then and even if a law is passed it will be hard.
While I whole heartily agree with crew wearing life jackets I know working in an industry where it is mandatory to don one. Crew simply do not like them. They often get in the way, the can cause neck fatigue after many hours of wearing then and they can also be set off if too much water comes over the side. The same can be said for the PLB. Again it is mandatory to don them before a boat trip is made, PLB have been around for many years and I cannot see what is so good about the JFR compared to some of the leading units on the market. What we need to look at is life jackets that are extremely light and have no baulk to them so enable fishermen to want to wear them.. I am afraid until then and even if a law is passed it will be hard. southwellman
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