70% of fishermen have avoided calling the coastguard after an incident at sea
This September Seafood Cornwall Training carried out a new survey about marine accidents as part of our campaign to identify and remove barriers to fishermen reporting accidents at sea
Our results revealed that 70% of respondents had avoided calling the coastguard after an incident at sea with only 15% confident that they would call the coastguard if they experienced a problem in the future.
But while these results clearly show that skippers and vessel owners do face barriers to reporting marine accidents our survey also revealed that 55% had called the coastguard following an accident at sea, with one respondent commenting:
“It depends on the problem and if it is likely for it to become life-threatening.”
The main concerns that skippers and vessel owners reported having that caused them to avoid reporting accidents were the risks of vessels being restricted from going out to see again following an MCA inspection that may follow an accident report.
One respondent explained: “The MCA / MMO restricts the movement of the boat and it’s not allowed to go back to sea for a significant period of time. They seem to make it up as they go along, there are massive differences in the surveyors standards and they aren’t working with the vessel owners. Restricting the boat from going to sea means no income from the families that rely on fishing.”
Another put the situation more bluntly:
“Unless I’ve got to get in the life raft I wouldn’t call the coastguard. Mainly because of the backlash after. Automatic MCA inspection and risk of the boat being stopped going to sea etc. etc. I think 80% of fishermen are the same. I’ve towed several boats back to harbour in the last two or three years with not one contact with the coastguard on channel 16. Some skippers won’t even communicate on the VHF at all if they have a problem. It’s all done on mobile phones.”
To help vessel owners address concerns of vessels being restricted after inspection, Seafood Cornwall Training have offered free safety and risk assessment workshops, usually one-to-one, from Safety Adviser Clive Palfrey, to ensure that if a vessel does need to report a marine accident, their vessel will be ready for any subsequent inspection from the MCA.
“It’s been good to open up this conversation and allow fishermen to voice their concerns about this issue anonymously,” says Clive Palfrey. “We want to help. We can run workshops with vessel owners and skippers, one-to-one where necessary, to get all the paperwork and safety measures in order so that should they need to call the Coastguard, they will pass any follow-up inspection. A bit of time preparing now can save skippers from the concerns over calling for help and taking risks after an incident at sea.
If you would like more information or to request help with ensuring all your safety standards and paperwork are up to date, call Seafood Cornwall Training 01736 364324 or, Clive on 07967 009412 or email firstname.lastname@example.org