While still in its infancy, the South West Fishing Safety Forum (SWFSF) has already made good progress since it was set up last year to co-ordinate fishermen’s safety initiatives in the region.
The forum, which is chaired by Seafish Regional Manager Gus Caslake, brings together those working in fishing safety including representatives from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (CIFCA), along with individuals from local training associations, fishermen’s associations, producer organisations, fleet managers, individual skippers and local harbour masters. The Vice Chair of the forum is Harbourmaster Matt Wheeler and secretariat support is provided by Hazel Bennett of Western Maritime Training.
Since the forum held its first meeting in May 2018, it has been focusing its efforts on identifying how it can bring the industry together, share relevant local safety information and deliver safety initiatives in the region:
- Developing a new platform to share information:
At the first Forum meeting, the group identified a need for a platform to bring together information on local safety initiatives, training and funding in one place and make it easier for local skippers and crew to find out what’s going on. Work is now underway on the development of a website which will be launched later this summer.
- A new Safety Advisor in the region: A new fishing safety post has also been appointed in the region, with Clive Palfrey as a Regional Safety Adviser for the Cornish fishing fleet. In this role Clive, an ex-fisherman, is taking a practical and hands-on approach while offering free safety advice to all Cornish fishermen. Since starting he has spoken to over 150 fishermen at events to promote monthly drills, safety gear and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs).
- Distribution of Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs): The forum is also publicising several projects to distribute PFDs in the region. 200 PFDs with internal Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) have already been allocated to fishermen fishing from or landing into the port of Plymouth with a further 50 still to be issued in the area. Seafood Cornwall Training and the fishing safety advisor will also be coordinating the distribution of 200 more PFD’s with PLB’s across Cornwall over the coming months.
SWFSF Chair Gus Caslake said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to be involved in the development of the Forum to date and to recognise the excellent safety initiatives that are already underway in the region. Fishing is a dangerous occupation, so this work really will help make working at sea safer for everyone involved in the local industry and may even directly save lives.
“Collaboration across the industry is essential as we find our feet and continue to share important messages and updates about fishermen’s safety, so it is really great that the forum brings together a diverse and strong membership. I’m looking forward to seeing more important safety projects delivered for local fishermen as we continue to work together for the good of the South West fishing industry in future.”
The forum meets on an ad-hoc basis, coming together to address pertinent issues and ensuring the successful delivery of agreed initiatives and projects.