Minister Coveney Calls on Fishermen to Avail of New BIM Safety at Sea Training

Skipper Expo 2014

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D. called on all sectors of the fishing and aquaculture industries to take advantage of the new Enhanced Safety Training Programme from Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), at the official opening of the 10th Skipper Expo International in Galway today (7th March).

Skipper Expo 2014

Minister Coveney oversaw the signing of the contract with Sioen, the Gweedore based maufacturers of the Mullion compact 150N lifejacket with the integrated Personal Locator Beacon. Minister Coveney outlined the importance of the scheme to the Irish fishing industry; ‘The Irish fishing industry will be the first in the EU to utilise this life-saving equipment. We now have the resources available through BIM’s safety training and this lifejacket with an integrated personal locator beacon to minimise lives lost at sea. We have already seen too many tragedies in recent years and collectively we need to ensure we do all in our power to minimise risk or in the case of an accident, to have the best equipment and knowledge to save lives at sea. I would strongly encourage fishermen and fish-farmers to sign up for the BIM training as a matter of urgency’

BIM and Sioen in partnership with the RNLI held demonstrations in the pool in the Galway Bay Hotel today to demonstrate how the new personal flotation devices with the integrated PLB can help save fishermen’s lives. Local fisherman, Thomas Fitzpatrick was on hand to witness and take part in the demos; ‘I am fishing for eleven years now and I have always worn a lifejacket. It gives me the reassurance I need before I head out to sea that if anything did happen I have some protection. Like my father, who is the skipper of the Shauna Ann, I love fishing but it’s a tough and dangerous job and safety has to be a priority for all the crew. I have completed my safety training and I would encourage all fishermen to do the same and to wear their lifejackets correctly’

As part of the rollout of the Government’s first marine safety strategy, and in response to the high level of fatalities at sea (35 fishing related fatalities have been recorded from 2007-2012*), the BIM Enhanced Safety Training Scheme is a one day course designed to provide skipper and crews of registered fishing vessels with on-going training in personal survival techniques, first aid, fire fighting, and health and safety in the workplace to help save lives at sea. Those successfully completing the course (or, in the case of new entrants, those successfully completing BIM’s three-day Basic Safety Training) may avail of a special incentive under BIM’s Safety Equipment Scheme. This provides grant-aid of up to 60% towards the cost of purchasing Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) fitted with an integrated Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).

BIM developed the concept for a PLB integrated PFD primarily to cater for fishermen and aquaculture work boats, typically vessels under 15 metres, as they form an industry group showing high casualty and fatality rates resulting from marine incidents. This group emerged as a particularly at risk group given that they are generally solo operators without any on-board AIS systems.

Michael Keatinge, BIM’s Director of Fisheries and Training Development outlined how BIM will roll out the safety programme this year; ‘We will provide safety training courses for up to 800 fishermen on 60 courses at 14 locations around out coast this year. Grant-aid will be provided for up to 600 personal flotation devices with fitted PLB’s and safety notices encouraging fishermen to wear their PFD’s and complete their training will be placed at 50 locations around our coast. We have made the training fully accessible to the sector and we would urge all fishermen to complete their safety training in our National Fisheries Colleges in Castletownbere or Greencastle or on our mobile coastal training units’

View the schedule of upcoming safety training courses

Pictured at the event are local Galway fisherman, Thomas Fitzpatrick with Mr Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Robert Walsh, BIM Training Instructor at the Irish Skipper Expo in the Galway Bay Hotel.