The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) is stepping up monitoring of the fishing industry and compliance with the ILO 188 Work in Fishing convention, planning to make full use of resources and new technology such as new fixed-wing aircraft with high quality cameras on board.
When the aircraft are looking for pollution at sea or helping with search operations, they will also be equipped to observe and report on the operations of fishing vessels which are not complying with UK legislation, for example the wearing of personal flotation devices (PFD) and life jackets on a fishing vessel.
‘Fishing is still the most dangerous profession in the UK today and, whilst we are seeing improvements in safety, tragically there were seven lives lost in the industry last year, all of which could have been prevented,’ said MCA head of fishing safety David Fenner.
‘The introduction of ILO 188 at the end of 2018 was a considerable change in the way safety in the industry is managed. These regulations introduced new requirements for the safety and protection of fishers and powers of enforcement where unsafe practices are observed on board.’
MCA head of enforcement Neil Cunningham commented that a serious challenge to ensuring that requirements are met has been the inability to monitor what happens at sea once a fishing vessel has sailed – but that’s about to change.
‘We will be using new resources including two new fixed-wing aircraft,’ he said.
‘While they are looking for pollution at sea or helping with searches, they will also give us the opportunity to have a clear sight into what is happening on vessels at sea and where it is clear that legal requirements are not being met (for example, not wearing a PFD) we will take appropriate action to continue to support the industry in improving safety. Appropriate and proportionate action will be considered and that may ultimately result in a prosecution.’