You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger commitment to commercial fishing safety than what is happening in Scotland.
In Scotland there are just over 5,000 commercial fishermen. Any of those that value their lives and don't want their skipper to have to deliver the message to the poor wife — "I'm so sorry. Young Breannan went over the side two days ago and never came back up." — can take advantage of a safety program that provides a free inflatable PFD.
The force behind the program is the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, and you don't have to be a member of that group to get a free PFD. The PFD, says Derek Cardno, the project leader for the initiative, is the Compact 150 PFD. It was developed over a two-year period by a group of fishermen and Mullion, an outfit that specializes in flotation garments and life jackets in Scunthorpe, England.
"It has been tested and tried on every fishing sector in the UK with great success and good feedback," Cardno says.
The Scottish Fishermen's Federation purchased 5,000 PFDs and so far 800 fishermen have applied for their free PFD. Of course, nothing is free, so where did the money come from. The Scottish Fishermen's Federation is kicking in £130,000 British pounds ($198,666) via the Scottish Fishermen's Trust, £10,000 ($15,282) comes from the UK Fisheries Offshore Oil & Gas Trust, and £306,604 ($486,554) is from the European Fisheries Fund.
The only stipulations require that the boat the fisherman is on has a fishing license administrated by the Scottish government and the fisherman has a safety certificate.
U.S. fishermen seem somewhat reluctant to wear PFDs, but Cardo says, "On walking the quayside having discussions with fishermen, the feedback has been very positive because the Compact 150 has been designed by fishermen for fishermen. Fishermen when challenged with the product are finding it hard to come up with a good reason not to wear it."