Northumberland fishermen are being urged to take advantage of free training, equipment and advice, after an increasing number of fatalities and accidents taking place at sea.
The recently-released Marine Accident Investigation Branch’s 2015 Annual Report reveals that the UK’s fishing fleet is suffering one of its deadliest periods in a decade.
The data shows that nine fishermen have lost their lives in six different incidents in UK waters in the first six months of this year, compared to seven fatalities in the whole of 2015 – an increase of 29 per cent. This has been described as a worryingly high figure for this stage of the year and there is concern that this number could rise.
The shocking statistics mean that UK waters are currently more deadly than the notoriously treacherous Alaskan waters, where the reality television show, Deadliest Catch, is filmed. In fact, the Alaskan fishing fleet has reported that, for the first time, no one died while commercial fishing in a vessel-related incident in the past year.
As a result, Seafish – the UK industry authority on seafood – is working with its industry partners to urge commercial fishermen to review their working practice, take steps to remove or reduce risks and adopt safer working practices in a bid to reduce the number of fatal and debilitating accidents.
As part of this, the Anglo-Scottish Seafish & Seafood Training Association (ASSTA) – which has its headquarters in Amble, but covers from Berwick to just south of Hartlepool – is encouraging people in the industry to take advantage of the free advice, training and equipment that it can offer.
ASSTA is giving away lifejackets – specifically made for the fishing industry and priced at £125 – for free to commercial fishermen, following funding by the European Fisheries Fund, the Marine Management Organisation and Seafish.
ASSTA will refresh fishermen’s certificates that are three years or older for free, as well as offering free advice.
A three-week introduction to commercial fishing course – which gives successful participants the basic courses required by law to go to sea, including basic sea survival and first aid – is starting in Amble on August 30. It is being offered for free. To secure a place, call Dennis on 01665 712823 or 07702 042551.
Dennis said: “The loss of nine people this year is a frightening statistic. We have got to do everything we can to minimise any form of accident or loss at sea. Accidents at sea can happen at any time but we want to give people the best and most-up-to-date legislation, courses and safety equipment. Take advantage of us – that’s what we are here for.”