Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Commercial Fishermen at risk of drowning

9th January 2009

Following a long period of cold, settled weather the CEO of Irish Water Safety John Leech wishes to raise awareness with Commercial Fishing Skippers of their responsibilities in keeping their vessel afloat this winter. The first Gale of the New Year is forecast for Sunday and regrettably at this time of the year we have seen some of the most tragic sinking's of fishing vessels in our waters, leaving enormous heartbreak and grief ashore.

Please ensure that all crew are wearing appropriately fitted lifejackets or buoyancy aids with a crotch strap when on deck. Overloading of Fishing Vessels has been a contributing factor to most of the sinking's in recent years.
Ad-hoc retrofitting of vessels has also been a contributing factor to these drownings.

Ensure your crew are adequately trained and exercised Should you experience difficulties then call the Coast Guard early so they initiate a prompt response to your situation.
John Leech has expressed concern at the number of single-handed fishermen who are persistently engaged in the practice of shooting their pots whilst their craft are underway with their motors engaged. On average three single-handed fishermen drown each year in Irish waters.
IWS advises fishermen to put their motors in neutral as they shoot each pot. If they are using outboard motors then we advise them to shoot their gear with a kill switch attached to them so that if they become snagged in the line and get taken overboard the engine will stop.
Single-handed fishermen must always wear a personal flotation device; they can either wear a flotation suit, jacket, buoyancy aid or lifejacket. IWS strongly recommends the use of an automatically inflated lifejacket fitted with a crotch strap in this situation. There are a large number of different types, sizes and designs on the market. Choose one that you feel most comfortable in and ensure that it is checked before use and serviced annually.
Carry a fixed or portable VHF at all times so that you have reliable communications with other craft and stations ashore. A mobile telephone does not suffice for single-handed fishing operations, but it may be useful.
Ensure that your vessel conforms to appropriate legislation, Department of Transport Codes of Practice for the size of Fishing Vessel you are operating and inform yourself of the contents of all Marine Notices.
Irish Water Safety is seeking the support and co-operation of the Commercial Fishing Industry to help reduce further unnecessary drownings in 2009. We also wish you a productive and succesful year, where fishing stocks will reward you well for your efforts.
For further information contact 1890420202 or Team

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