Campaign launched to reduce man overboard deaths in the fishing industry

The ‘Home and Dry ’campaign highlights three simple steps to reduce the risk of falling overboard a fishing vessel following recent tragic losses.

Over the recent winter, seven fishermen tragically lost their lives whilst working on fishing vessels, devastating fishing communities around the UK. Six of those fatal incidents saw fishermen ending up in the water.

Fisherman working safely on deck out at sea
A fisherman works safely on deck

Falling overboard is a major cause of death in the fishing industry.  85% of deaths involve people ending up in the water and 42% of all deaths are recorded as man overboard incidents.

Over the last 10 years (2011 to 2020), the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), reported 60 fatalities from UK fishing vessels and 51 of those ended up in water.  25 deaths were recorded as man overboard incidents. The highest number of fatalities is on vessels under 15 metres. 

The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is launching its latest Home and Dry campaign focused on prevention of man overboard incidents. To help reduce deaths at sea from falling overboard, the campaign is reminding those who work on fishing vessels to take three simple steps:

  1. Complete a written risk assessment and review regularly
  2. Practise Man Overboard drills regularly
  3. Always wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) on deck for if the worst happens

The campaign’s dedicated safety website offers helpful resources from a range of organisations, to help those working on fishing vessels to stay safe. It includes videos on how to do a risk assessment, advice on ManOverboard drills and training and how to wear a PFD properly.  

One of the most important things in fishing is safety. As a skipper I am always working to ensure me and my crew avoid going in the water at all costs, and I wanted to show other fishermen how easy it is to do a risk assessment on their vessels. Far too many people have lost their lives from falling overboard, lives that could have been saved with better safety practices.
Brian Chambers, skipper from Northern Ireland

The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is a group of fishing industry organisations,  charities, public bodies and regulators set up to improve the safety of commercial fishing at sea. Seafish is a member of FISG.

“This campaign is coming at a crucial time for the fishing industry. With seven fishermen losing their lives over winter we want to ensure those working on vessel are doing everything they can to keep themselves safe at sea.

It’s also important to remind vessel owners and
skippers that some safety actions are required by law - such as the written risk assessments and wearing a PFD on deck. As the weather gets warmer and smaller boats get ready to get back out to sea, we’re asking fishing vessel owners to take a moment to see if they could do more to improve safety practices on their vessels.”
Simon Potten, Head of Safety and Training at Seafish
John Clark, owner and Skipper of the Reliance II
Don’t wait for an accident to happen to brush up on safety management. It’s not until I was in hospital, attached to a bed and having to sit through countless operations that it dawned on me that I was lucky to survive. It was at that moment that I decided I would do everything I could to ensure what happened to me never happened to one of my crew.
John Clark, a Scottish vessel owner who had an overboard incident in 2013.

The campaign website is www.homeanddry.uk.