Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries
in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication

Training of trainers in safety at sea

20/01/2020 - 24/01/2020 Saint Lucia

Fishing continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Fishers in the Caribbean, who often fish in open boats with ample protection from the elements, during rough seas, are particularly vulnerable. Engine failures, capsizing of vessels, sinking due to high waves, navigation mistakes, careless practices, man falling overboard, and collisions of vessels are among the major causes of accidents in fisheries. Fishers' safety is further compromised by climate change. Storms and hurricanes appear more frequently and are more severe. The impacts of climate change on coastal regions, small-scale fishing communities and fish stocks are increasing.

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Group photo from the workshop ©FAO

In response, FAO organized a training of trainers on safety at sea in Saint Lucia, in January 2020. In total 30 safety at sea professionals, trainers from the coast guards, defense forces, maritime and fisheries departments attended. The participants were updated on international agreements and conventions promoting safety at sea in fisheries, voluntary guidelines (among them the SSF Guidelines chapter 9) and good practices. They also worked on further improving a draft training package focused on the fisheries situation in the Caribbean and the needs of small-scale fishers. This training package will cover a large range of subjects, such as general safety, personal safety, vessel stability, radio communication, survival at sea, emergency first aid, outboard engine repair and maintenance, boat handling, safety risk management, international conventions and agreements on safety of vessels and fishers, and effective training techniques.

The workshop also discussed a proposal for introduction of an accident and fatality reporting system in Caribbean Fisheries. Such a system, in-line with the IMO system for merchant vessels, was recommended already in an International Maritime Organization (IMO) – FAO Regional workshop on the safety of small-scale fishing vessels in the Caribbean, held in Castries in December 2004.  To decrease the number of accidents at sea, it is essential to know what type of accidents are happening, how they happened and why they happened. Awareness raising and capacity building of the fishers can then prevent those accidents from reoccurring.

The training was hosted by the Fisheries Department of Santa Lucia and organized with support from the FISH Safety Foundation (FSF), the Climate Change Adaptation for Eastern Caribbean Fisheries (CC4Fish) project, and the Norwegian Government funded project "Supporting FAO member countries implement climate change adaptation measures in fisheries and aquaculture".  Both projects support small-scale fisheries communities in their climate change adaptation efforts, including the improvement of safety practices in fisheries.

The participants came from Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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Group photo from the workshop ©FAO