On the occasion of the launch of Maritime Safety Week by the UK government running this week, the Shipowners Club issued its fishing vessel safety booklet, summarizing key safety tips for one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. There have been many studies carried out over the years showing that fatalities on fishing vessels remain a real threat.
It is essential that the vessel’s skipper and all crew are fully familiarised with the vessel and its equipment, including any vessel-specific quirks, prior to departing a berth. A pre-sailing checklist should be completed, including:
– The operation and maintenance of the fishing equipment.
– The location and operation of safety equipment, ensuring it is free from obstruction
– The onboard layout of the spaces such as void spaces, engine room and cargo spaces.
– The location and operation of key equipment including:
a) Bilge level alarms
b) Sea water systems
c) Hydraulic piping and systems
d) Freeing ports and pumping systems
e) Items to ensure watertight integrity
It is crucial for skippers to have an awareness of the prevailing/forecasted weather conditions and sea state so as to determine if their vessel would be able to withstand such conditions. A vessel’s stability can be affected by many factors.
– Stability cannot be measured – it has to be calculated.
– They must be aware of all factors that affect the vessel’s stability.
– They must use the stability book if available.
– They must assess the effect of possible modifications may have on the vessel e.g. adding derricks and replacing winches.
– The higher up a weight is placed, the greater detrimental effect it has on the vessel’s stability.
– Incorrect stowage of fish.
It is vital that the vessel has fully certified and trained crew on board who are capable of keeping a watch with a good understanding of what is required to undertake this safely and efficiently.
From the Club’s experience of claims, most navigational incidents are caused by:
– Poor watchkeeping, unqualified or inexperienced watchkeepers
– Insufficient lookout/no one on the bridge.
– Alcohol and drugs.