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Irish Fisheries Chief Wants To Create A Taboo About Lifejackets

27th January 2016
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Tara McCarthy has a magnificent view out of her office windows.

“You could look out there all day,” she says as we chat in the office on Crofton Road in Dun Laoghaire, looking out on Dublin Bay. Even on a damp January afternoon it is a great vista as a ship heads out of Dublin Port into what it seems will be a harsh enough time ahead at sea. However, it is not the view we have met to discuss, but whether a taboo can be created around a troubling issue – safety at sea and those who will not wear lifejackets.

Tara McCarthy is Chief Executive of Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the State fisheries board, which has launched a campaign to persuade fishermen that they must wear lifejackets. There has been an attitude amongst them that it was better not to wear one. If a fisherman fell into the sea from the boat, it was likely that the sea would take him, so it was better not to struggle to live.

That was the attitude, about which a taboo would be in place if Tara McCarthy has her way.

The statistics are frightening. Fishing is thirteen times more dangerous than the construction industry. Over the last ten years 53 fishermen have lost their lives at sea. BIM research showed that quite a number of fishermen knew colleagues who died at sea but many of those fishermen, even though they knew a colleague who had died in a tragedy, would still not wear a lifejacket.

THE NEW BIM LIFEJACKET WITH BUILT IN POSITION FINDER

The new BIM lifejacket with built-in position finder

That shocked me and so it did the CEO also, which is why the lifejackets campaign is tough, hard-hitting.

“Those fishermen should realise the impact they could have on their families by a decision not to wear a lifejacket. It is, perhaps, shocking to face them with that realisation but we have launched a campaign that is deliberately hard-hitting campaign. “It is not soft, just saying that it would be nice to wear a lifejacket. We are facing fishermen with a life-impacting decision. We talked to fishermen about this and they told us to make it hard-hitting and that is what we are doing.”

• Listen to the BIM CEO on the programme above

Published in Island Nation
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