A new campaign, Home and Dry, shines a light on the fishing heroes in the UK keeping seafood on plates throughout the Covid-19 crisis and urges them to get back to port safely.
The campaign, led by The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG), showcases a day at sea and the simple steps a skipper and his crew take every day to ensure they return home safely to their loved ones.
Created with support from the fishing industry, it focuses on the importance of community and home for those who make a living from catching fish, and aims to get vital messages out about good safety at sea.
Dave Driver, a Brixham skipper featured in the campaign, says: “I’ve been a fisherman for most of my life, and as a vessel owner I am constantly thinking about my safety and the safety of my crew. For me, wearing a lifejacket everyday was hard, but as time went on I got used to it and now it’s the same as putting my seatbelt on before starting the car.”
In the UK, commercial fishing supports around 12,000 fishermen and women, with an estimated 6,147 vessels fishing out of ports up and down the country, from large trawlers catching haddock and cod, to smaller vessels catching crab and lobster near the shoreline. Boats can be out at sea for a matter of hours, days, or weeks, with those on board often exposed to harsh and difficult conditions.
Fishing as a career comes with risks. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous occupations, with 71 fishermen losing their lives in the UK in the last 10 years.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) reports that HM Coastguard responds to more than 150 search and rescue incidents per year involving commercial fishing vessels.
The film which has a soundtrack recorded specifically for the campaign by English musician, songwriter, and actor, Johnny Flynn, encourages skippers and crew to do everything they can to reduce risks and stay safe.
“I lost a very good friend at sea once, they never found his body,” says Driver. “Watching his Mum go through that was really hard. I never want my family or the family of my crew to ever experience pain like that. I wanted to be involved in the Home and Dry campaign because I want to show other fishermen that there are simple steps they can take to be safe at sea. It’s important we do everything we can to get back home to our loved ones.”
The Fishing Industry Safety Group (FISG) is a group of fishing industry organisations, charities, public bodies and regulators set up to improve the safety of commercial fishing at sea.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness of a recent new law for commercial fishing safety (ILO 188) which includes the requirement for all fishermen to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) whilst on deck, unless a risk assessment excludes them from wearing one.
The Home and Dry website provides access to information on sea safety. This includes training and contact details for regional safety officers, guidance and technical expertise, and much more – everything to help make the transition to safer fishing simple.