Fishing Safety

Preparedness and prevention

Prevention is the first line of defence and will save most lives of fishers. Information and awareness building, the provision of suitable and affordable safety equipment, and training fishers to make informed decisions, all help to avoid accidents at sea.

To ensure a safe fishing trip, it is important to be well prepared. Many accidents at sea could have been prevented by better preparation. Training of the captain and crew in basic safety on board is key in avoiding accidents.

Some important safety checks necessary before each fishing trip are the following:

  • Check the hull carefully for cracks and damages and inside for leaks.
  • Check the weather forecast and be vigilant for bad weather.
  • Check the VHF/SBB radio, GPS, compass, echo sounder, radar and other communication and navigation equipment, as well as batteries and charging system.
  • Make sure you have sea charts of the area you are passing through and are going to.
  • Ensure that the engines are well maintained and running smooth.
  • Have sufficient fuel, freshwater, food and first aid materials on-board.
  • Ensure that the safety equipment (life jackets, life rings, life rafts, fire extinguishers, fire pumps and hoses, emergency flares and beacons), are in good condition.
  • Hand over your fishing trip plan to the harbour master/port authorities for records and provide a list of crewmembers and contact numbers. Include information on communication equipment on board, fishing area, and expected return/arrival date.
  • Brief the crew and give them safety and watch schedule instructions.
  • Have the required vessel registration, fishing authorizations, safety and seaworthiness certificates and crew identification documents available for the authorities.
  • Carry along spare parts and tools for small repairs on engine and other major equipment.

Prepare a detailed checklist which will help you to not forget the necessary checks.

During the fishing trip, it is important to continue to check the weather and communicate with other vessels and the shore radio station. A few recommendations:

  • Make sure that the radio is always on VHF channel 16 (and 70 if it has DSC), to enable quick calls for help and respond to other vessels in need.
  • Plot your position on the chart frequently (preferably every 30 minutes)
  • Keep track of winds and currents when calculating the voyage and adjust as needed.
  • Maintain vessel stability, taking into account the capacity limits of the vessel, and be careful when hauling nets and in deciding where to store the fish caught.
  • Contact the shore station at least twice per day and inform them of your position.
  • Keep track of other vessels and their movements, and adjust your course as needed.

Guidance on a basic first aid kit

A first aid kit is essential on board. Always ensure it is well maintained and (re)filled and that the crew members know where to find it and how to apply first aid. The first aid kit should be always placed in a water tight container and include (as a minimum) the following items: