A new safety campaign led by The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG), highlights a day at sea and the simple steps a skipper and his crew take every day to ensure they return home safely to their loved ones. The campaign comes as many fishing crews across the UK are returning to sea following weeks of lockdown and challenging market conditions.
Created with support from the fishing industry, the Home and Dry campaign focuses on the importance of community and home for those who make a living from catching fish. It shines a light on the pride and professionalism of the industry as a way to get vital out messages about good safety at sea.
‘I’ve been a fisherman for most of my life, and as a vessel owner I am constantly thinking about my safety and the safety of my crew. For me, wearing a lifejacket everyday was hard, but as time went on I got used to it and now it’s the same as putting my seatbelt on before starting the car,’ said Brixham skipper Dave Driver, who is featured in the campaign.
Approximately 12,000 fishermen work on an estimated 6147 UK fishing vessels. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) published its 2019 data which showed six fishermen lost their lives last year. While this number appears low, given the small numbers of professional fishermen it represents, this is a very high fatality rate compared to other UK industries. There have been no deaths in 2020 so far, a trend the industry wants to maintain.
‘I lost a very good friend at sea once, they never found his body,’ Dave added.
‘Watching his Mum go through that was really hard. I never want my family or the family of my crew to ever experience pain like that. I wanted to be involved in the Home and Dry campaign because I want to show other fishermen that there are simple steps they can take to be safe at sea. It’s important we do everything we can to get back home to our loved ones.’
The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is a group of fishing industry organisations, charities, public bodies and regulators set up to improve the safety of commercial fishing at sea.
‘We go to sea to earn money to provide for our families,’ said Luke, a skipper from Cornwall whose insights helped to shape the campaign.
‘You find yourself thinking, ‘what will happen if I go overboard?’ It’s the family who will suffer if I’m lost at sea. That’s why it’s so important to take all the precautions you can – and get back, home and dry.’
The Home and Dry campaign also aims to raise awareness of new legislation concerning commercial fishing safety (ILO 188). This includes the requirement for anyone working on a fishing vessel to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on deck unless a risk assessment excludes the need to wear one.
There is a dedicated campaign website providing easy access to information on sea safety. The campaign also encourages those who are not able to go fishing right now due to the impact of COVID-19 to take the time to make simple safety checks so they are ready to go to sea when things return to normal.