Safety first for fisheries legislation

07 Nov 2017
Robert Greenwood

Robert Greenwood: "I am strongly of the view that in future, all fisheries legislation should be vetted by the UK’s Fishing Industry Safety Group"

The government has not properly considered vessel safety when contemplating new fisheries legislation, an NFFO representative has said.

Robert Greenwood, safety and training officer at The National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO) said retrospectively it has been possible to discern that management measures can carry with them direct and significant adverse safety implications.

He stressed: “…we have seen the size and shape of fishing vessels change, and vessels used for purposes that they were not designed for, in the wake of, and to adapt to new legislation.”

Safety is key

Mr Greenwood believes safety considerations should be integral to designing fisheries management measures.

He stated: “I am strongly of the view that in future, all fisheries legislation should be vetted by the UK’s Fishing Industry Safety Group, where fishing industry and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency can jointly assess and comment on the safety implications of each measure and suggest mitigation measures where necessary.”

Fisheries management measures of particular concern include those which significantly reduce profitability, stated Mr Greenwood, adding the link between profitable and safe fishing vessels is well established.

Boundary issues

Measures that create strong boundary issues with favourable incentives to be on one side of the line rather than the other are also an issue. “We have seen this feature very clearly with the boundary at 10 meters,” he said.

He also emphasised that limitations on time at sea increase the likelihood that a vessel will remain at sea (or go to sea) in adverse weather conditions; and increase the dangers associated with fatigue.

Pressures to maximise profit during the period an individual vessel is permitted to go to sea, is also a feature of systems that limit time at sea, he added.

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National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO)

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