The fishing industry has had a very difficult time over the last decade, with extra pressures on those out at sea trying to survive, both economically and physically.
An increase in extreme weather events brought on by changing climate conditions gives rise to dangers already inherent in the industry.
In 2010 there were 12 fishing vessels lost in UK waters (source Marine Accident Investigation Branch MAIB Annual Report 2010), with significant loss of life.
256 fishermen died due to accidents to/on UK fishing vessels between 1992 – 2006, according to the MAIB report ‘Analysis of UK Fishing Vessel Safety 1992 to 2006’ published in 2008.
According to the MCA report “Update of mortality for workers in the UK merchant shipping and fishing sectors”, fishermen were 115 times more likely to die than any other UK occupation during the statistical time period.
Despite, a large reduction of the UK fishing fleet, there is little evidence to suggest that the occupation has become much safer. Without more up to date statistics, it is difficult to judge but every year the industry sees tragedies.
Will closures of HM Coastguard Rescue Centres have an effect on the survival rate of Fishermen in the future?
One indication of this would be to look at where past tragedies have occurred and where the HM Coastguard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres are located.
As can be seen from the map, there are many incidents in the areas covered by the closing MRCCs. With loss of Local Knowledge and possible delays in response times, this can only be negative for all concerned. Below is a map showing the magnitude of fatalities by location.
Information about the Role of HMCG:
HM Coastguard is the 999 service that is responsible for monitoring, and responding to, any Maritime incident anywhere around the UK and it also provides worldwide coordination for Maritime Rescue.
Currently there are 18 HMCG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres that cover every area of UK waters. The Government has decided that costs can be saved by making radical changes to the structure of the service with the introduction of one UK wide “Call Centre” to handle all Coastguard 999 calls and closure of half the Rescue Centres so that remaining ones have at least double the workload.
Loss of vital local knowledge built up over generations will have a profound impact on the response of the service; many Coastguards know their “patch” quite intimately and instantly recognise place names which often do not appear in any publications.
Many coastal communities & organisations have made representations to the Government to call a stop to the closure plan as the savings are negligible (£0.01/tax payer/year), yet the risk to life of all Seafarers including our fishermen is considerable.
Next time you enjoy your Fish & Chips, spare a thought to the dangers that Fishermen face.
Consider joining the public run & led campaign to stop closure of HM Coastguard stations.
Sign the Petition and please visit the ‘How to help’ section of the website.
Written by Coastal Joe