Seafish, the public body that supports the £10bn UK seafood industry, has been delighted to support an industry-led Welsh Fishing Safety Committee (WFSC) project, which has seen grant-aided Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) with integrated Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) distributed to over 90% of the active fishing fleet in Wales.
The project offered owners of active commercial fishing vessels in Wales the opportunity to purchase this vital safety equipment at a heavily discounted rate of £15, instead of the usual price of more than £350. This discount was made possible thanks to funding received from the maritime charity Seafarer's UK and the Welsh Government.
Between April and December 2018 Seafish received applications for 690 PFDs from 295 Welsh-licenced commercial fishing vessels. The equipment has been distributed to fishermen by Seafish and WFSC members, with support from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Fishermen’s Mission. Recipients are required to attend a local safety briefing before collecting their equipment and so far more than 12 events have been held around Wales.
Brett Garner from Welsh Fishing Safety Committee (WFSC) said: “The project distributing PFDs has been very valuable and it will help make the Welsh fishing community a much safer environment to work in.”
Dr Holly Whiteley, Regional Manager for Wales at Seafish, said: “The project set out to make this potentially life-saving equipment available onboard all Welsh fishing vessels. The fact that over 90% of the active fleet in Wales have applied is fantastic and demonstrates the fleet’s commitment to improving safety.”
Lee Haigh, Wales Fishing Safety Officer at Seafish, said: “Working at sea is a dangerous occupation, but wearing a flotation device with a personal location beacon can save a fisherman’s life. This project has provided us with a great opportunity to raise awareness amongst fishermen of the dangers of falling or being dragged overboard.”
Talking about his PFD, Dan Greening – who fishes from Oxwich on the Gower Peninsula with his Dad Paul on their boat Sheperton SA 335 – said. “These are very comfortable life jackets you even forget some times that you are still wearing it. I don’t see any reason why any fisherman isn’t wearing one.”
Since 31 December 2018 it has been a legal requirement that, if the risk cannot be eliminated, PFDs must be worn by fishermen when working at sea.