Ocean Safety Ltd is preparing the fishing community for important changes being introduced following findings by the Marine Accident and Investigation Bureau (MAIB) from a number of recent accidents at sea.

Additional equipment is required to be carried on-board small fishing vessels under 15 metres in length to improve safety. The new Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Fishing Vessels states that for the first time life rafts should be carried on the deck of all open vessels between 7m and 15m an on decked vessels up to 10m.

Ocean Safety stocks all the equipment required for the upgrades but more importantly the company provides an advisory service which interprets the ruling, assisting with the details, for example, of choosing which survival items should be stowed in the life raft or whether it is preferable to store items in a ‘grab bag’ ready for an emergency evacuation.

In addition radar reflectors and bilge alarms are to be fitted and EPIRBs must be carried on all vessels over 10m. Smaller vessels can choose this option or alternatively supply all crew members with personal PLBs. The Code also strongly advises that all fisherman wear lifejackets (Personal Flotation Devices).

Ocean Safety will take fishing boat operators through the steps of understanding and choosing the correct EPIRBs and PLBs, which under this rule must be fitted with GPS receivers so that the boat or person overboard can be located. The company also runs familiarization sessions on how to launch a liferaft, use EPIRBS, and lifejacket maintenance.

These requirements come into force on 23rd October 2019 for existing vessels. New vessels and existing vessels that are being registered to become fishing boats for the first time must comply immediately.

The new ruling, Marine Safety Notice MSN1871, will be enforced via MCA certification, so fishing skippers and crews need to be prepared.