Grant Application secures £16K funding to make Commercial Fishing Safer

Photo left to right – D Deiniol from suppliers LGS, TDC Councillor P Hackett with North Devon Fishermen.

Posted on: 24 June 2019

Torridge and North Devon District Councils have successfully applied for European Maritime and Fisheries Funding (EMFF) totalling £16,000 to distribute new life jackets to fishermen to make working in the fishing industry safer.

The project was initiated to raise awareness and safety standards amongst local operators and their crews with the hope of preventing and reducing accidents or in the most serious cases potential loss of life.

The grant was used to purchase 50 life jackets to be distributed to the local fishing fleet in Northern Devon. It’s hoped that the new design, developed with the help of representatives from the fishing industry, will encourage fishermen to wear safety equipment as part of their routine activity at sea.

The jackets have built in Emergency Position Indicating Beacons (EPIRB’s) that can be activated if a fisherman was unlucky enough to go over the side of their boat. They would then be tracked by the rescue services on a designated frequency affiliated to their individual jacket, pinpointing their position and greatly improving the chances of rescue.

The provision will include an evaluation of each fisherman’s existing safety knowledge and a personal fitting and training programme, including how to maintain the equipment which was kicked off at Appledore RNLI station on Wednesday.

North Devon Council Leader, Councillor David Worden, says: “The new design of life jacket was developed with consultation with people and organisations actively working in this sector of the local economy. As a result we hope that the design that has emerged will be more readily worn to protect lives and reduce accidents.

“The project should also benefit the RNLI and other emergency services with fewer call-outs and fewer occasions where these services put their own welfare at risk in helping others. Each lifeboat launch costs around £4,000 so if as a result of the project the number of these can be reduced then the investment will allow these resources to go further as well.”

Lead Member for Environmental Health & Community Safety at Torridge District Council, Philip Hacketts, says: “We very much hope that the newly designed life jackets and tailored distribution will raise awareness of safety issues at sea and the equipment adopted as a regular part of the kit fishermen wear while carrying out their work.

“Fishing can be a hazardous profession and so anything we can do to reduce the risk of harm is clearly a good thing, not only for those wearing the equipment, but also for their families and loved ones.”

Chairman of the North Devon Fishermen’s Association and skipper of the fishing vessel Aurora, John Balls, says:  “This project was initiated following the acquisition by South Devon (Plymouth) fishermen of similar lifejackets with built in EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon’s).

Due to the complex nature of the EU application process, we sought assistance from Torridge Councillor Phil Hackett who has been a stalwart supporter of the North Devon fishing industry. He then ensured a successful application was submitted and also secured other contributions from North Devon and Torridge Councils towards the overall costs. We would like to thank Councillor Hackett and other past and present councillors for their contributions to this cause and the positive outcome.”

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Posted in: Environment