“ONE death a year is too many” – The fishing community is being urged to stay safe as figures show the UK industry is the ‘deadliest catch.’
Figures released by SeaFish and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch suggest that the UK fishing industry is suffering from one of its deadliest periods in a decade with more deaths this year than in Alaska, where the TV show of the same name is filmed.
SeaFish have stated that Nine UK fishermen have lost their lives in the first six months of this year in six different incidents.
SeaFish group said this was a “worryingly high figure for this stage in the year and there is concern this number could rise.”
The MAIB said that in 2015 seven fishermen lost their lives and eight were lost in 2014.
In contrast SeaFish said that the But the Alaskan fishing fleet has reported that, for the first time, no one died while commercial fishing in a vessel-related incident in the past year.
SeaFish is urging seafarers to review their working practices and take steps to remove or reduce risks and adopt safer working practices. The group is also encouraging more fishermen to wear Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when working at sea, with them offering them for free.
Andy Alcock from the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Fishermen’s and Boatmen’s Association, said fishermen in Weymouth applied for and received their PFDs last year.
He said: “We agree there’s too many deaths – one a year is too many, especially if it could be avoided.
“Every death in this industry is one too many, whether it’s in a six month period or a 12 month, it doesn’t matter.”
Mr Alcock said he hoped that the situation might change post-Brexit depending on whether there were changes to the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, as then fishermen would not have to go as far in order to find the fish because of the quota system.
He said: “We don’t expect to go to sea and not come back at the end of the day.” He added that fishermen wanted to go out, be able to make a living and come back to their families.
Press Officer for the Weymouth Lifeboat Ken Francis said that the RNLI had been championing fishermen wearing life jackets and had a nationwide scheme to give them out.
He added that the charity also provides checks on boat safety equipment and life jackets.
Tim Glover, chairman of the Lyme Bay Fisheries and Conservation Reserve said that safety at sea was a ‘fundamental issue’ and urged people to always wear their PFD.
He said: “All our members are signed up to the SeaFish responsible fishing scheme that takes seriously issues of safety.
“As part of that they are trained to use Personal Floatation Devices and follow the proper procedures.”
He added: “Safety at sea is an absolutely fundamental issue and it’s got to be as safe as possible.”