Fishing vessel pilot highlights new safety management project

Image used for illustration purposes only
Image used for illustration purposes only

Leading provider of grants and support to the maritime community, The Seafarers’ Charity, has received funding for a pilot project to develop safety management onboard fishing vessels to the standard of the Fishing Safety Management (FSM) Code. The new service, Fishing First Safety Management by SafetyFolder, aims to improve safety in the UK fishing fleet.

The Seafarers’ Charity’s chief executive, Catherine Spencer says: “I am delighted that funding has been secured for this pilot project as the addition of an auditable safety standard that will transform vessel safety in the fishing industry. The Seafarers’ Charity is improving the lives of seafarers every day and ensuring fishers can work and return home safely from voyages without experiencing harm or accidents is a big part of that.”

The Seafarers’ Charity is coordinating this pilot project which has secured funding support from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), Fisheries and Seafood Scheme which has awarded £99,780 and the Trinity House DfT Maritime Safety Fund which has awarded £35,500. An industry steering group has been established and the development of safety management on board fishing vessels is fully supported by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which regulates and certifies UK fishing vessels.

The Seafarers’ Charity will take forward a pilot project in the South West of England for up to 50 fishing vessels to receive professional support to develop their safety management practices. The project will support operators to demonstrate compliance with ILO 188C Work In Fishing Convention by meeting the requirements of the Fishing Safety Management Code (MGN 596F), published by the MCA in 2017.

Robert Greenwood, director at the SafetyFolder explained how this funding will help improve safety standards within the fishing industry: “The majority of fishing vessels have begun recording risk assessments and safety activity in the SafetyFolder, but the new Fishing First service will give owners professional, customized support to complete a fully auditable Safety Management System for their vessel. Documentation is to the standard of the Fishing Safety Management Code (MGN 596 F) and is designed to avoid duplication and align with the MCA’s Surveys and Inspections, therefore, simplifying compliance with legislation; ILO C 188.”

Adopting a Safety Management System has been a game-changer in protecting workers from injury and saving lives in high-risk industries. By adopting an auditable Fishing Safety Management System, operators are documenting all their safety and welfare activity and have peace of mind that they are compliant with regulations. The data can also be produced as evidence of compliance during MCA vessel certification inspections. Reducing risk is especially critical on fishing vessels which remain by far the highest risk industry in the UK with 100 times the risk of death compared to the average UK worker (ref MCA).

Both consumers and the wider seafood industry have a growing interest in sustainability and transparency of how seafood is caught. Consumers and the supply chain are looking more closely at ethical issues and how food is produced, and working conditions for those involved. Operators adopting a fully auditable safety system for their business can demonstrate supply chain transparency and develop the potential to add value to their business as a producer of ethically sourced seafood.

Giles Bartlett, Whitby Seafoods fishery improvement manager says: “Fishing remains one of the most dangerous occupations in the UK and throughout the world. The isolated nature of the work means that workers can be at a greater risk of sub-standard working conditions that would not be tolerated in other sectors.”

The Fishing First Safety Management by SafetyFolder will launch as a pilot service in South West England with widespread industry backing and Steering Group membership including, The Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Seafish, The Seafarers’ Charity, Morrisons, Whitby Seafoods, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, Welsh Fishermen’s Association and independent fishing representatives.

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