11 June 2012
The latest Safety Digest from the MAIB makes for very interesting reading and highlights six recent fishing vessel incidents. The introduction to the safety digest has been written by Rodney Smith, the brother of Neil Smith, a fisherman lost from the Shetland based fishing vessel the Breadwinner. Rodney brings real passion to the issue of fishing safety and the family’s traumatic experience has left him with a real desire to improve fishing safety so that other families don’t have to go through the same loss and pain.
In the Safety Digest there are three short reports highlighting the need for better watch keeping. For many years the fishing industry has received been criticised for poor watch keeping which I have always felt is unfair but these new reports increase the pressure. When reports like these are published the debate resurfaces and as an industry we need to look inward and ask questions regarding the training given on shore or at sea. A trend of poor watch keeping across the whole maritime industry, not just fishing, has also been highlighted recently in dialogue with the MAIB as they have received a number of reports of near misses amongst the merchant fleet. This should also give us in the fishing industry food for thought as we share the same environment.
Report 21 ‘Fire-Fighting Drills – a Sound Investment’ describes how a fishing vessel’s crew dealt with a potentially life threatening situation very well. In the lesson section number 4 it states “The crew dealt with the fire in a competent and confident manner because they had been trained and drilled for the eventuality. This was a small investment for the likelihood of saving the vessel from severe damage – remember - TRAINING PAYS! “. Very often training can be very dry to attend but when incidents like this happen it’s impossible to put a value on training and completing regular drills onboard.
Seafish are currently offering free refresher training on all mandatory courses. These courses have all been revamped and provide an excellent opportunity for crews to train together. Refresher training is purely voluntary within the UK at present and this allows the facility to draw down funding from Europe. Many European countries have made this training mandatory which results in individual fishermen having to pay for the training themselves. SFF encourages all fishermen to learn from this report and take advantage of this free training and show the regulators that as an industry we are serious about safety.