Help fight drowning among fishermen at sea
With figures showing the number of drownings in harbors, roadsteads and marinas on the rise and those working in the fishing industry at even greater risk, an Anglesey-based social enterprise has decided to take action. .
As part of his FLAG project, Menter Môn has launched two initiatives that he hopes will save the lives of those who work near and on the sea.
The first project saw span poles installed at five ports in North Wales.
The aim is to provide additional safety and rescue equipment designed to assist a person in the water. Working with local authorities, the fishing industry, and RNLI safety teams, key locations were identified where there was a danger to life and where poles would provide maximum benefit.
Craig Hughes, FLAG Project Manager at Menter Mon, said: “The majority of deaths in ports and harbors occur as a result of slips, trips and falls when people board or disembark boats and other vessels.
“We wanted to reduce that number, by working with the fishing industry, port authorities and the RNLI, we identified the safety equipment that could prevent injuries and loss of life.”
Scope masts have been installed at Amlwch, Pwllheli, Conwy, Rhyl and Connah’s Quay. Ports were chosen because of high quay walls, fast tides, or sinking sand, which made it harder for people to get out of the water.
The second initiative, called “Man Overboard”, is piloting the use of new technologies to reduce the impact of man overboard incidents among fishermen. With most of the people working in the fishing industry in North Wales operating from small boats in coastal waters and sailing alone, the risk they face is even greater.
Craig said: “We know fishermen are six times more likely to die than the most dangerous jobs on land. This increases when a fisherman works alone. In order to solve this problem, we conducted a pilot project in which different man-overboard (MOB) devices were installed on 10 ships.
“The devices work by shutting off a boat’s engine when a person falls into the water. We wanted to test the different types of technologies available to find which ones are most effective and educate local fishermen on steps they can take to improve their own safety.
It is hoped that the pilot’s findings will help inform future safety measures on board fishing vessels, which in turn will save lives.
Fishing safety expert Trevor Jones said: “The Welsh fishing industry is grateful to Menter Môn and the FLAG project for bringing this project to fruition.
“This will inevitably make the industry safer.
“Falls overboard are the most common cause of death in the fishing industry. If you can’t get out of the water, it’s only a matter of time before you succumb. The MOB ignition cutout test demonstrated that stopping the boat increases the chances of getting back on board and surviving.
“It also showed the importance of assessing risk, testing and, more importantly, testing re-boarding methods that work for single-handed and manned ships.”
Speaking on both projects, Gary Pittaway, Water Safety Officer and RNLI Launch Authority, said: In and around our ports, harbors and marinas.
“We accept that incidents do occur when people are in the water and in danger – these initiatives will no doubt help reduce the number of drowning deaths. We will continue to work together to raise awareness, educate and promote safety at sea. ”
Both projects were funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, managed by the Welsh government.