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Marine / MCA to carry out fishing vessel safety inspections

THE MARITIME and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has announced that it is to carry out unannounced inspections of fishing vessels across the UK.

The agency said that inspections are being carried out as part of ongoing work to improve fishing vessel safety in an industry recognised to be one of the most dangerous in the world.

Since November 2020 there have been eight deaths in the industry including one in Shetland when a fisherman fell overboard from a local trawler in February.

Between 2011and 2020 the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) reported 60 fatalities from UK fishing vessels.

The MCA said it has worked solidly with the fishing industry, reinforcing the messages about the requirements of legislation around standards of safety for crew and for vessels.

However, the agency has said that it can and will take action where it feels advice is being ignored and safety not taken seriously.

Assistant director, survey and inspection (south) Tony Heslop said: “Fishing is one of the most dangerous industries in the world. We’ve pushed the message for many years now about the importance of wearing life jackets and making sure that fishing vessels are fit for purpose under the survey and inspection regime.

“While education is important and we will continue to do that, enforcement is also needed for those who consistently ignore our message, to emphasise why this matters and why we take it seriously.”

His colleague for the north Fraser Heasley added: “The MCA continues to work with industry, including the Fishing Industry Safety Group, as part of all of our ongoing commitment to reduce the deaths which cause so much heartache and sadness to so many.”

This year, the MCA has also used coastguard aeroplanes to reinforce the powers that it has to catch those who break a law designed for their safety and protection.

Since March 37 notices of intended prosecutions (similar to those sent out for speeding offences) have been sent out to skippers and owners.