Thirty-five fishers gained life-saving training at Man Overboard sessions in the Errigal Training Centre, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal this weekend.
The classes were provided free of charge by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency, in partnership with the RNLI.
The sessions are designed to provide fishers with the experience of falling into cold sea conditions, wearing full work clothing and without their Personal Floatation Device (PFD), or lifejacket as they are commonly known. This is then followed by the same experience with a correctly fitted PFD.
Although the conditions are controlled and undertaken under the watchful eye of experienced RNLI trainers, they provide a realistic experience, simulating the impact of how work clothing, oilskins, and boots affect a person’s buoyancy, coupled with challenging sea conditions. The sessions also underpin the importance of having and following your Man Overboard recovery plan.
Peter McBride of the family-run, Mc Bride Fishing company had a number of crew attending the session and has urged as many fishers as possible to undertake this experience.
“McBride Fishing has three state of the art vessels that allow us to supply crab all year round to our markets. This often means fishing in difficult sea conditions and the safety of our skippers and crew is of paramount importance to us. Wearing a correctly fitted PFD and knowing what to do if someone accidentally hits the water are vital to avoiding loss of life. These sessions allow fishers to experience the shock of striking cold water, unsupported by their PFD’s and to realise how limited their chance of survival might be if this situation was real.”
BIM’s Skills Development Director, Ian Mannix, said: “Having participated in this class myself recently, it really brought home the extreme difference wearing a PFD makes. Without a doubt, it is essential for surviving at sea. We are delighted to be able to partner with the RNLI in delivering these classes free of charge to Irish Fishers. Both BIM and the RNLI have a shared goal of a safety at sea. The experience compliments and builds upon the existing mandatory three-day Safety Training offered by BIM in both its National Fisheries Colleges in Donegal and Cork and our two mobile coastal training units.”
Frankie Horne, Fishing Safety Manager, RNLI, delivers the course and he said: “As fishers, one of the most important things we can do is be prepared for an ‘Accidental Immersion’ whereby we unintentionally end up in the water. RNLI data analysis shows that most Fishing Fatalities from accident immersion are because we cannot stay afloat or be recovered in time. 109 fishers lost their lives in Irish and UK waters between 2008 and 2017, going about their daily work. Of these, 47 fatalities were a result of accidental Immersion, Man Overboard (MOB). When you go overboard. Capable people, become incapable very quickly. Be Rigged and Ready.”
Further free 1-day sessions are being offered on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th February in the National Maritime College of Ireland, Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork. Potential participants must have their BIM Mandatory Safety Training completed and be over 16 years of age.