EU funding to assist fishermen in replacing dangerous deck equipment is available beginning today.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has launched a campaign to keep commercial fishermen safe, after figures were released showing 88 people were injured or killed in deck machinery incidents on fishing vessels in UK waters over the past five years.

Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, is supporting the campaign by speaking out and appearing in a promotional video. Her late husband Neil was killed when a toggle from his oilskin jacket got caught in deck machinery on board his boat Our Boy Andrew, drawing him into hydraulic machinery used to spool nets.

Murray included a statement in the RNLI’s press release concerning the campaign: “My husband was a commercial fisherman for over 25 years. If his boat had an emergency stop button in a better location on the deck, it could have saved his life.

“I don’t want to see other fishermen’s children suffer like my children have. That’s why I’m supporting this campaign and encouraging fishermen to take action to make sure their vessels are as safe as possible.”

RNLI Commercial fishing safety campaign

The RNLI’s fishing safety campaign poster.

Data released by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) shows that four fishermen lost their lives in deck machinery incidents from 1 January 2011 to 10 November 2015, with a further 84 injuries suffered by commercial fishing crew in that span of time.

The RNLI is encouraging skippers and vessel owners to apply for funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to help replace older, more dangerous deck machinery on their boats, as well asurging fishermen to take extra care on deck.

According to the RNLI, injuries and incidents involving deck machinery are believed to be significantly underreported, meaning it is highly likely that many more than the 84 injuries reported have been suffered over the past five years.

Steve Clinch, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents at the MAIB, told the RNLI: “Year after year, the MAIB receives numerous reports of fishermen suffering crush injuries, amputations and even death as the result of accidents involving deck machinery on fishing boats.

“Any fishermen going to sea should always take the time to consider carefully the potential risks of any hauling or shooting operation and take all necessary measures to protect everyone on board. Too many limbs, livelihoods and lives have been lost because fishermen have taken unnecessary risks.”

Interested fishermen in England and Scotland can apply for the EMFF grant funding to replace deck machinery from today (Monday 18 January), with funding due to become available for fishermen in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland soon.

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