State plans to improve safety at sea
THE GOVERNMENT plans to introduce a range of new measures aimed at improving safety in the fishing industry next month.
The Department of Transport said it would announce new rules on safety equipment and grant aid for improvements after concerns were raised by safety investigators about an unacceptably high number of fatalities in the sector.
In its 2011 annual report, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) said 40pc of all deaths at sea in a given year were among fishermen.
"Whilst the board recognises that fishing is a hard and dangerous occupation, more must be done to reduce these tragedies," it said.
An investigator from the MCIB made his way to Waterford yesterday to begin the probe in the deaths of brothers Paul (50), Kenny (47) and Shane (45) Bolger, who were from Passage East.
The men lost their lives after their 18ft fishing punt overturned close to Brownstown Head in Tramore Bay.
Their vessel will be examined to determine if it was sea worthy, while safety equipment will also be checked.
Other issues to be addressed include whether the men had other safety equipment, including location devices on their life-jackets.
"There is an investigation underway," a spokesman for the MCIB said.
"The investigator will go down and look at the boat, interview people involved, and make contact with Met Eireann to find out about weather conditions and we also ask the coastguard for feedback."
The MCIB has a year to report.
Writing in its 2011 annual report, MCIB chairman John G O'Donnell said while there had been improvements in maritime safety, standards similar to Iceland should be introduced to help prevent deaths.
"These ( improvements) have been very effective and I wish to encourage the minister to continue to be ambitious in relation to fishing vessel safety and seek to achieve the safety standards similar to Iceland which has achieved a standard of zero fatalities in its fishing sector," he said.
In 2011, the last year for which official figures are available, there were 13 incidents involving vessels at sea. Six involved fishing vessels, with three vessels sunk and five fatalities. Some 108 people have died at sea between 2002 and 2011.