Today sees the publication of 3 accident investigation reports where the fishermen might have survived had they been wearing personal flotation devices when they entered the water.
The reports are:
Fishing vessel Annie T (21/2016): man overboard with the loss of 1 life in the Sound of Mingulay, Scotland on 4 October 2015
Fishing vessel Harvester (22/2016): man overboard resulting in the grounding and sinking of the vessel with the loss of 2 lives off the Pembrokeshire Coast, Wales on 28 April 2016
Fishing vessel Apollo (23/2016): man overboard with the loss of 1 life, 30nm north-west of the Orkney Islands, Scotland on 18 April 2016
Statement from the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
The MAIB rarely recommends the introduction of new legislation to solve safety problems, but the rate that commercial fishermen are losing their lives due to drowning shows no sign of reducing. Indeed, this has been a particularly bad year: the MAIB has investigated the deaths of nine commercial fishermen, and today is publishing three reports covering the deaths of four. All four might well have survived had they been wearing a lifejacket when they entered the water.
In the cold waters around the UK survival time can be measured in minutes unless a lifejacket is being worn. However, this message is not getting home despite a three year campaign that has seen almost every commercial fisherman in the UK receive a free lifejacket. Evidence from other countries shows that education campaigns alone have little effect on behaviour, but when backed by legislation the change is both significant and sustained. In order to prevent further unnecessary loss of commercial fishermen’s lives, I am therefore recommending today that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency moves quickly to introduce legislation making it compulsory for fishermen to wear personal flotation devices on the working decks of commercial fishing vessels while they are at sea.