Are fishermen safer in the UK?

OK, it’s time for Crowley’s first annual Accident and Mortality Award for the publication that best depicts — in narrative and graphic form — how you can injure yourself or worse out on the water.

2014 0812 MAIBThis year’s trophy goes to the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch’s 2013 report. The MAIB is a branch of the British civil service, and its report does not limit itself to one sector of the marine industry. If you screwed up while operating a boat — whether it was a recreational RIB, a commercial fishing boat or a containership — your mishap is likely to be in this 95-page report. It might appear in the form of an accident summary, a part of an artful graphic, or a color photo of your boat in fine condition and one showing it after the accident — if it’s still afloat — with a description of the safety issues you ignored and recommendations for improvement.

An example is the St Amant, a scallop dredger that lost a crewman overboard. That’s on page 19 and includes recommendations to the boat’s owner and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The owner was told that to improve onboard safety the crew should be equipped with PFDs and personal locator beacons, and “robust housekeeping procedures” are needed to “minimize the risk of trip hazards and clutter on deck.”

The failure of fishermen to wear PFDs is evidently as big a problem in the United Kingdom as it is in this country. One of the MAIB recommendations to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency called for legislation to make “compulsory the wearing of personal flotation devices on the working deck of fishing vessels if it becomes clear that current efforts to encourage fishermen to wear this equipment voluntarily are not successful.”

Some general statistics for United Kingdom fishing boats in 2013: 18 boats were lost compared to nine in 2012. The 10-year statistical average is 20. Fifteen of those were boats smaller than 50 feet. Four fishermen died, a historical low. There were nine cases of traumatic amputation out of a total of 33 fishermen injured.

Anyway, it’s all here. So take a look at and measure yourself against what is happening across the pond.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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