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NFFO Offers Fishermen EU Funding to Improve Vessel Safety
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO) is offering fishermen financial support in a bid to cut accidents at sea.
Fishing remains one of the most dangerous professions in the UK, with 84 fishermen losing their lives in the past 10 years. Funding is being made available from the NFFO and supported by European Fisheries Fund (EFF), which will allow fishermen operating vessels under 15 meters to claim up to 70 per cent of the cost to bring their vessel’s safety up to the Voluntary Code of Practice standard.
Under the voluntary code, all vessels under 15m should be fitted with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which transmits the position obtained from a built-in GPS receiver via satellite directly to rescue services so the vessel can be easily located during emergency situations. Under the same code, vessels 7m to 10m should also be fitted with emergency liferafts, which this initiative will go toward funding.
The NFFO’s Safety and Training Officer, Robert Greenwood, said: “Anything we can do to minimise the cost to our members in the aim of improving safety is taken very seriously. Safety is often forgotten amongst the politics of fishing but for the NFFO improving safety is a key priority for all fishing vessels regardless of size.”
Currently the Code of Practice is voluntary, rather than mandatory, however the NFFO is encouraging member vessels to meet its requirement now to ensure the safety of fishing crews, and while the 70 per cent funding is available.
It is expected that while these requirements are non-mandatory, eventually they will be incorporated into law at which point they would become mandatory and would no longer be eligible for funding from the EFF or future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
David Fenner, Head of Fishing Vessel Safety at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: “The next version of the Small Fishing Vessel Code is planned to contain mandatory requirements for liferafts and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons. Subject to the necessary consultation and Parliamentary process, it is expected that the new Code could come into force in 2016.”
While a change in law is never certain, the NFFO believes it is good practice for fishermen to meet these non-mandatory standards, particularly while partial funding is on the table.
Robert concluded: “Should the new Code of Practice come into force this project will ease the transition for our members and improve the safety of fishermen in the UK.”