Fishermen call lifejacket plans “impossible to police”

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Fishermen have resisted wearing safety gear in the past

FISHERMEN have hit out at plans to force them to wear lifejackets while at sea.

They have claimed that the new rules would be “impossible to police” and said it should be down to the individual.

Yesterday it was revealed that the UK Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is working on regulations which will make it compulsory to wear a lifejacket while working.

But industry insiders are sceptical that the rules will be followed.

Alex Smith, who co-owns Inchcape Marine Services in Arbroath has spent 40 years as a commercial fisherman, welcomed the prospect of tougher safety rules but claimed wearing a flotation aid should be down to individual preference.

IMPOSSIBLE TO POLICE

He said: “A lot of the guys already have lifejackets that they can use when working.

“They have been trying to make people wear lifejackets on boats for years, but in reality it would be almost impossible to police.

“It would be a problem for a skipper if he were to be made liable for his crew wearing them, because he would then be responsible if something happened and they didn’t have a lifejacket on.

“I was at sea for 40 years and I never wore one, but that doesn’t mean to say it is the right thing to do.”

He added that the job was now less dangerous that in days gone by.

“It is very rarely you ever hear of anybody being lost at sea these days because the skippers are very safety-conscious,” he said.

“At the end of the day it is all down to your own personal safety so it should be up to the individual whether they want to wear a jacket or not.”

TOO BULKY

Many fishermen have argued that lifejackets are impractical to wear when working.

Brian Beckett, chairman of the Arbroath and District Static Gear Association, said:

“To be honest I think making fisherman wear lifejackets is a good idea, but the only problem is there is not a jacket suitable for working with creels.

“They are good for yachts and pleasure boats rather than the commercial side of things, because they are just too bulky and most of them wouldn’t last more than a few months of wear and tear.

“It would be very difficult to make people wear them because there are not many police cars out in the sea, so how they would enforce it I don’t know.”

The rules are expected to become law by next December.

 

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