Recent meeting of Fishing Industry Safety Group proposes development of a voluntary safety management system

New SMS proposed by the Fishing Industry Safety Group
New SMS proposed by the Fishing Industry Safety Group

At a recent meeting of the Fishing Industry Safety Group in York, the group has proposed the development of a voluntary safety management system (SMS) to help co-ordinate the preparation of the ILO C188 Work in Fishing Convention due early in 2018.

The Convention will apply to every fisherman and vessel owner in the UK with requirements for the first time on items such as medicals, crew agreements and safety management.

David Dickens, Chief Executive at the Fishermen’s Mission stated: “The Fishermen’s Mission welcomes ILO C188 particularly for the focus on appropriate terms and conditions for those working in the UK fishing industry which it is hoped will improve the overall welfare ‘offer’ and reduce deprivation and suffering.”

In particular, the Fishing Industry Safety Group Project Group will develop a Safety Management System that can be self audited and the code is expected to ensure that the UK’s fishermen will have the support of an organised and structured system to help make the necessary changes required.

David Fenner, Head of Fishing Safety at MCA, said that the development of Safety Management System aims to help fishermen to ensure legislation and guidance is practical and realistic.

According to Human Rights at Sea, the introduction of similar codes in the Merchant Navy and for domestic commercial vessels have reduced accidents significantly. Development of a safety management code for fishing vessels will hopefully mirror the benefits of these existing codes, but may also benefit from learning from the burden imposed by them also.

“We see no value in increasing paperwork, we want to focus on increasing safety and welfare. At every stage we will be ensuring that actions speak louder than words in safety, but with any process there will be paperwork, but this will hopefully be helpful to the owners and crews,” said NFFO safety officer Robert Greenwood.

The project involves maritime charities the Fishermen’s Mission and Human Rights at Sea, both of which are known for their welfare and human rights support, advice and contributions to the industry as well as the ILO C188 preparations.

The Fishing Industry Safety Group meets on a regular basis to ensure that all organisations are working together to support the fishing industry in a positive and efficient way. It involves all the industry stakeholders across the United Kingdom and encourages greater integration towards a safer fishing industry.

Fishing Industry Safety Group has two main groups, the Technical and Operations group and the Safety and Communications group. The groups meet several times per year at different venues around the country and are made of fishermen’s representatives from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and a selection of key people from the MCA.

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