July 07, 2023

New Partnership to Improve Fishing Safety

The final day of Maritime Safety Week 2023 sees the launch of a new partnership to improve safety in commercial fishing. The partnership has been established between The Seafarers’ Charity and the National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations (NFFO) and formalised by a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at ensuring collaboration on a range of industry led initiatives to improve fishing safety.

The new partnership sees The Seafarers’ Charity and NFFO utilising their specialist skills and resources for the broader benefit of the commercial fishing sector. The Seafarers’ Charity is a leading maritime funder of safety initiatives and welfare services for people working at sea. The Charity brings its funding resources, collaborative approach and convening powers to the partnership; which will be informed by the NFFO’s representation and specialist knowledge of the fishing industry in England and Wales.

The formalisation of a partnership builds on The Seafarers’ Charity co-funding with the NFFO of their Risk, Safety & Training Lead post held by Charles Blyth. The post has already been co-funded by the two partners since May 2022 and the Charity recently agreed a further two year funding commitment into 2025. In addition to funding this key role, the two organisations have committed to collaborating on various initiatives and projects that will contribute to raising awareness and understanding of safety management practices.

The promotion of safe working practices is a key part of the work of NFFO. The Federation has representation on many maritime safety groups within the United Kingdom and Europe and engages on the world stage at the IMO and ILO. Mike Cohen, NFFO Chief Executive explained their strategy, 'The NFFO is helping members, skippers and crews to manage risk at sea on their vessels, to ensure their vessels are operated in the safest way possible and that crews are properly trained and receiving the best welfare provision. Joint initiatives, developed with support from The Seafarers’ Charity, provides us with additional resources to take forward new and innovative projects which will make a significant contribution to improving fishing safety for many more than just our members.'

Charles Blyth was appointed as the NFFO’s Risk, Safety & Training Lead in May 2022 and The Seafarers’ Charity is co-funding this important role for three years. Find out more about Charles work with the fishing industry in this recent article in Fishing News.

One of the new initiatives funded by The Seafarers Charity is a series of short ‘FISH Safe’ films. Charles explained the thinking behind the films: 'There have been many changes to regulations in fishing recently and with these new short films, I try and describe them in layman’s terms. It sometimes seems you need to be a lawyer to be able to understand the regulations properly these days. It’s very technical, and has big ramifications for individual fishermen, which I want to try and help them understand. Most fishermen I meet tell me they prefer to watch a video on safety rather than having to read about it'.

Watch or share the new films on The Seafarers’ Charity’s Youtube channel:

FISH SAFE – Dealing with enclosed spaces on your vessel

FISH SAFE – Looking after your lifting gear

FISH SAFE – Stability basics

FISH SAFE – Get ready for your Under 15m fishing vessel inspection

Funding research and insight to improve fishing safety

As part of its commitment to the partnership’s aim of improving fishing safety through influencing international safety standards, The Seafarers’ Charity is also funding experimental testing of scale vessel models with the Wolfson Unit at Southampton University. It is anticipated that these tests will increase evidence and insight into fishing vessel stability on accurately represented models of both catamaran and single hulled fishing vessels. More information will be made available once the results of the tests are known later in the year.

I am delighted that we are able to do even more to support improvements in safety and welfare for people working in UK fishing and that these are industry led initiatives. The MOU signed with the NFFO formalises a long-term working relationship and collaboration which is already providing much needed help and guidance to many fishing vessel owners across the whole of the UK and there will be more to come as the partnership continues over the next two years.

Deborah Layde
CEO of The Seafarers’ Charity,