Saving Fishermen’s Lives in Wales

13 July 2018

Safety equipment take-up is a success among Welsh Fishermen

Over 550 Welsh fishermen will collect their personal lifesaving devices thanks to a health and safety initiative from an industry forum of Fisherman's Associations in Wales.

The Welsh Fishing Safety Committee (WFSC), supported by Seafish, the public body that supports the £10b UK seafood industry, offered owners of active Welsh-registered commercial fishing vessels state-of-the-art personal flotation devices (PFDs) with in-built personal location beacons (PLBs) at a subsidised cost of £15 each, a saving of over £300 on the normal RRP.

Since the scheme opened in April, 254 individual vessel applications have been received for a total of 587 PFDs with PLBs. That's 80% of the active Welsh fishing fleet who have taken up this offer.

Welsh fishermen will be collecting their PFDs from Monday 16th July during a series of WFSC-led distribution events across north, mid and south Wales, to be supported by Seafish and the RNLI. Safety briefings and information on servicing will be delivered at these events to encourage long-term use of the equipment. 

Dr Holly Whiteley, Seafish Wales Manager, said: "The safety of UK fishermen is a top priority for Seafish and we are proud to support this PFD with PLB initiative on behalf of the Welsh fleet.  The uptake of this essential life-saving equipment by fishing vessel owners in Wales really demonstrates the fleet's commitment to health & safety while working at sea.

"I'd like to thank the fleet for their valued collaboration and investment in this initiative and we look forward to distributing the equipment with the WFSC and RNLI over the coming weeks".

Greg Phillpot, Chair of the Welsh Fishing Safety Committee said: "It's really satisfying to see the ambition of the Committee to obtain this top quality life-saving equipment for Welsh commercial fishermen being brought to fruition. Many thanks to all those who have worked towards this, particularly Seafish and our funders Welsh Government and Seafarers UK. My hope now is that the fishermen will wear these devices whilst at sea and if an emergency occurs they can be rescued promptly."

The issuing of the safety devices comes ahead of the implementation of the International Labour Organisation: Work in Fishing Convention (ILO 188) into UK law. The legislation is likely to require commercial fishermen to wear PFDs on deck while at sea. The use of PLBs (or equivalent) will also become mandatory for small fishing vessels in October 2019 under the Small Fishing Vessel Code of Practice (MSN 1871).

The initiative was supported from funding received from the Welsh Government and from Seafarers UK, a charity that has been helping people in the maritime community for more than100 years.

The Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: "Fishing is a key industry to Wales. I recently announced more than £830,000 to help the industry prepare for future trading outside the EU and over £1m to promote Welsh seafood at home and abroad. 

"The Wales Seafood Strategy aims to maximise the safety and well-being of fishing communities and I'm delighted to see such a high take-up of the personal lifesaving devices." 

Seafarers UK's Grants Director Deborah Layde said: "Seafarers UK is pleased to support this campaign. In particular we endorse the vital element in heightening awareness, and prevention of, Man Overboard in the first place. We hope these PFDs are regularly worn, but not relied on as lifesavers, as Welsh fishermen will put Man Overboard preventative measures in place."

Owners of active Welsh-registered commercial fishing vessels can still apply for the grant-aided PFDs with integrated PLBs by visiting the Seafish website and downloading an application form. Forms can also be requested directly from Seafish by calling 0131 524 8602 or 01792 793400.