Page last updated at 07:15 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 08:15 UK

Action needed on fishermen deaths

Osprey III
A fisherman died when he fell overboard from the Osprey III

Urgent action is needed to help cut the number of fishermen killed in accidents at sea, a report has said.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) recommendation follows three deaths - two in Scottish waters - within a two-week period last year.

The MAIB said the three deaths gave a powerful illustration of the dangers faced by fishermen.

It said special attention had to be given to improving fishermen's safety awareness.

The death rate among fishermen was "consistent and disproportionate", the MAIB said.

It said a coherent and properly resourced plan for reducing fishing deaths should be developed.

Three fatal accidents, in a very short period of time, provide a powerful illustration of the dangers faced by UK fishermen
Stephen Meyer
MAIB chief inspector

The report highlighted three accidents which involved a fisherman dying after either slipping or being dragged overboard by fishing gear.

In November last year, Filipino deckhand William Antonio was dragged overboard by nets from the Macduff boat Osprey III.

The accident came just a week before the death of Arbroath fisherman Raymond Davidson, who was dragged overboard from the creel boat Optik.

He later died in hospital.

A fisherman was also killed in the English Channel in the same month.

The MAIB said it recommended two years ago that the Department of Transport and the Coastguard developed a plan to reduce fishing deaths.

No plan has been made and the MAIB said it was now urgently required.

Occupational safety

MAIB chief inspector Stephen Meyer said: "Three fatal accidents, in a very short period of time, provide a powerful illustration of the dangers faced by UK fishermen.

"The fact that all three deaths occurred when the victims either slipped or were dragged overboard by fishing gear also casts a spotlight on sub-optimal working practices and attitudes to occupational safety that seem to be the norm for some in the industry.

"Special attention must be given to improving fishermen's safety awareness and understanding of the risks posed by their workplace if occupational accidents, including cases of man overboard, are to be reduced."

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The government will now carefully consider the report's findings as it develops its maritime policy, and will respond fully in due course."

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