Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

Funded event in environmental training pool highlighted the dangers of falling overboard fishing vessels.

Falling overboard is the biggest single cause of workplace fatalities in the fishing industry. In 2021, ten fishermen have tragically lost their lives at sea. Six of these were recorded as man overboard fatalities by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

The Fishing Industry Safety Group  secured £260,000 to help prevent man overboard incidents.

This is being used to fund delivery of in-water awareness events to explain how to avoid going over the side and what can be done to improve the chances of survival.

The environment pools aim to create some of the conditions experienced at sea with a wave machine and rain

At a recent event in Aberdeen timed to coincide with the Scottish Skipper Expo over fifty fishermen from Shetland, Orkney and the mainland participated.

In the environmental pool at Survivex, under the watchful eye of Frankie Horne, RNLI Fishing Safety Team,  they experienced wind and wave conditions similar to what could be expected if they found themselves in a man overboard situation.

The fishermen attending jumped into the pool in full fishing gear without any safety gear to experience what if feels like to try and stay afloat and aware in deteriorating sea state. Many of the fishermen struggled to stay afloat and the pool rescue swimmer was kept busy guiding the participants to the safety of the poolside.

The exercise was repeated with everyone wearing a type approved PFD and it was plain to observe the difference in flotation and maintaining a calmer approach to the situation that it provided.

The fishermen attending then took part in a pool exercise to board a life raft under the same open water conditions and were given advice on teamwork and techniques to ensure survival at sea.

The consensus among the fishermen after this experience was that it was an eye opener and all pledged to never venture to sea again without first donning a PFD.

Man overboard Awareness events are run by Seafish and the RNLI at environmental training pools across the UK. Anyone working on a commercial fishing vessel is encouraged to book up to attend the events, which are fully funded. Spaces are limited so early sign up is recommended.

These are strenuous, physical events, which are not for the faint-hearted. You should be in good physical condition to take part. Participants will be in the pool to experience a realistic man overboard experience under controlled conditions.

The events give attendees experience of what it might be like to be rescued by a helicopter.

Trinity House and The Maritime & Coastguard Agency have provided the funding for the events.

This means fishermen van be reimbursed for travel and subsistence costs in attending. They can also claim accommodation costs if required.

For more information on the events and to book a place, email the Fishermen’s Training team at training@seafish.co.uk