Safety plan to reverse rise in fishing deaths

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The toll of fishermen lost at sea could be heading towards the worst figure for 10 years, the Shipping Minister, Keith Hill, warned yesterday as he set out a strategy for improving safety.

The toll of fishermen lost at sea could be heading towards the worst figure for 10 years, the Shipping Minister, Keith Hill, warned yesterday as he set out a strategy for improving safety.

He said 30 fishermen had already been lost this year and things would only get better when the industry changed its attitude to safety.

During a debate in Westminster Hall, Mr Hill said the Government would conduct a thorough review of fishing vessel safety regulations, which had not been updated for 25 years, into a "comprehensive strategy" for safety in the industry. He called for a move to a "positive" safety culture where identifying risks at sea became part of the way fishermen thought.

He said the Fisheries Department had agreed to fund a series of industry-wide courses on risk awareness, first aid and sea survival.

"By comparison with other UK industries - including those such as mining and quarrying - long regarded as dangerous, sea fishing still has by far the worst record of fatalities.

Mr Hill said there are already signs the fishing industry was making positive moves. He said he met the Fishing Industry Safety Group earlier this month and was "encouraged" to learn what the industry organisations were doing to promote a positive safety culture. But more fundamental approaches were needed, he argued.

The courses would cover safety updates for older fishermen, accident prevention and risk-awareness, and offertraining for new entrants. Mr Hill said a review of fishing vessel safety regulations would be packaged into a blueprint for safety in the industry.

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