New rules mandate safety training for trawler crews from March
Safety training for fishing skippers and crew is to become mandatory from March 1st next, under regulations signed by the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Fahey.
The training programme is being introduced on a phased basis and will not apply to all those employed in the industry until March 1st, 2008.
The safety regulations will also require all crew members to wear a personal flotation device when on deck of any vessel, irrespective of its size and location.
Younger fishermen are being targeted initially in the programme, which is to be administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
BIM has been running safety training courses for fishermen for some years at its training colleges in Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Castletownbere, Co Cork, and at various locations around the islands.
Irish Coast Guard statistics for the past two years show that up to 400 fishing vessels required assistance annually, and the year 2000 was the worst in a decade for fatalities at sea.
The statistics indicate that 70 per cent of drowning accidents occurred from fishing vessels with stability problems, and BIM is purchasing a simulator made in Canada as part of its training initiative.
The free-floating stability training stern trawler is built in Vancouver to US Coast Guard specifications and can replicate actual conditions at sea under various operating and locating conditions.
Details of the new regulations are available at www.marine.gov.ie and on the BIM website at www.bim.ie
In a separate development, the Royal National Life-Boat Institution (RNLI) is to use hovercraft for the first time at inland and beach rescue stations. Such craft have been used on a pilot basis already on Lough Erne in the North, and at Oulton Broad in Suffolk, England, and have proved to be very flexible in difficult inshore environments.
The hovercraft won't be introduced for at least a year, but the institute hopes to establish a further network of inland stations in the next five years. A new inshore rescue station is to be established on a trial basis next year at Wexford Harbour Boat Club.
The RNLI's offshore station in the county is at Rosslare Harbour, and it previously operated a lifeboat station at the Fort, marking the entrance to Wexford harbour.