Letter: Trawler safety

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The Independent Culture
Sir: For too many years it has been accepted that commercial fishing is a dangerous occupation ("Scores of trawlers `at risk of sinking' ", 27 April). If the same numbers of workers were killed each year in the motor or building industries, there would be a public outcry.

Because fishing fatalities occur in small numbers and are widely distributed around the coast of the UK, they go largely unnoticed by the national media. Consequently, most people have no idea what it costs in human terms to put fish on the nation's tables. I would even go so far as to say that some MPs are not aware that a fatality rate in commercial fishing of 77 deaths per 100,000 workers is three times that of miners and quarry workers, making commercial fishing by far the most dangerous industry in the country.

Fishermen have the right to serve on safe, properly equipped and seaworthy vessels. However, unless great care is taken when introducing safety regulations, they will be seen by the fishing industry as yet another interference. For several years fishermen have seen themselves as being under attack by both government and the EU. It is important, therefore, that the introduction of any safety regulations is done with their backing and wholehearted support.

Finally, every commercial fishing vessel, regardless of size, should be fitted with a "float free" distress beacon. On too many occasions vessels have been "run down" or overwhelmed by a sudden catastrophe and been unable to transmit a distress message.