Representing & Supporting Shetland’s Fishermen

Safety at Sea

Fishing is the one of the most dangerous industries with the rate of fatalities being approximately 100 times higher than that of the UK general workforce. Safety awareness and training is imperative to mitigating against the dangers associated with fishing.

In the past 10 years, 71 men have lost their lives whilst working on a fishing vessel in the UK. There’s also been 100’s of accidents. The majority of these incidents are preventable. This makes working on a fishing vessel one of the riskiest jobs to do in the UK. These statistics come from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) which publishes annual data on incidents involving commercial fishing vessels.

Before going to sea all fishermen must undertake a series of mandatory training courses. Further information is available on the Seafish website. Courses are available locally through the NAFC Marine Centre UHI. There is funding available through Seafish, The Hunter & Morrison Trust and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) for this training, details can be found online here.

Everyone in the fishing industry’s goal is to lower the number of preventable accidents and deaths on fishing vessels and make the fishing industry in the UK safer. We work with the Government, regulators and charities to give fishing vessel owners, skippers and crew the support they need to get home safely.

SFA is represented at the Scottish Government’s Scottish Fishing Safety Group (SFSG) by a local fishermen. The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, of which the SFA is a member, represents our fishermen at the Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG). This group was established to bring together fishing industry representatives and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to consider ways to improve fishermen’s safety.

In 2020, the Home and Dry fishing safety campaign was created with support from the fishing industry, to share vital messages about safety at sea, and help all fishermen get back to their families, home and dry. #HomeandDry

There are three simple steps, if actioned by fishers, that can go along way to saving lives:

There’s been more effort by the fishing industry in the UK in the past few years to make fishing safer and the numbers of incidents are reducing. The ILO188 Working in Fishing Convention came in to force in 2019 to improve the working lives of people working on fishing vessels. There is more information on ILO188 on the UK Government website.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency issues guidance to fishermen in the form of M Notices. This link directs you the MCA website for a list of current notices. Please note that notices relevant to the fishing industry carry the suffix (F).

All fishing vessels are encouraged by the SFA to sign up to the online Safety Folder which is a free online resource that aims to support behavioural change to improve safety culture on board fishing vessels of all sizes.

The MCA and SFA recommends the use of the Safety Folder on the grounds that its use can assist in preparing for a survey and inspection. It may also save time and money by shortening the time MCA spends at a vessel.