A study investigating how many of the 1,000-plus deaths recorded in British waters from 2007-2016 were avoidable was carried out by expert in drowning physiology, Professor Mike Tipton and Dr Gemma Milligan of the University of Portsmouth as part of a collaborative project run by the Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Professor Tipton said that potentially 180 of the deaths could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing a lifejacket.

About 4.2 million people, predominately men, are regular anglers in British waters.

Professor Tipton said: “It is a reflection of our lack of respect for, and understanding of, water safety, and the great danger represented by water, that so many of us work and play on the water without taking the simple step of wearing a lifejacket. It’s a tragedy that not wearing a lifejacket can lead to a death that was easily avoidable.”

Because some of the data collected on deaths in water are incomplete, the true figure for preventable deaths is probably significantly higher, said Prof Tipton

Portsmouth University professor Mike Tipton

The study used statistics from UK coastal waters gathered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and analysed by a panel of experts, the Casualty Review Panel, which meets annually to discuss safety.