The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF), which is leading the initiative, said it was delighted at have reached the important milestone, but insisted more work needed to be done to get more to take advantage of the scheme.
Around 80% of the fishermen who have received their lifejackets have also opted for free instruction sessions on their use.
‘Jackets offer a second chance’
The free lifejackets, or Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) as they are also commonly known, are being distributed in an initiative led by the SFF to improve and educate fishermen on safety.
Derek Cardno, SFF Safety Officer, said: “Our fishermen have an incredibly challenging and often dangerous job in putting seafood on our plates and every year a number of men will fall into the sea. In such situations, these personal flotation devices can offer fishermen a second chance if worn.
“We are particularly pleased at the high proportion of fishermen who have received a free PFD who have also opted for free instruction on their use. As well as the important practical aspect, we have found that this has helped to stimulate conversations amongst fishing crews on safety at sea.
“Despite the good level of uptake so far, there are still many fishermen who haven’t yet registered their interest for a free PFD, and we are urging those who haven’t yet done so to make an application.”
Funding for up to 5,000 jackets
The scheme has funding available for the supply of up to 5,000 PFDs and is supported by Marine Scotland, RNLI, RNMDSF, Ocean Safety and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.
It is funded by the European Fisheries Fund, Scottish Fishermen’s Trust and the UK Fisheries Offshore Oil and Gas Legacy Trust Fund.
Special ‘roadshow’ events hosted by the SFF and RNLI have already been held in a number of Scottish ports to hand over the PFDs to fishermen as well as provide instruction sessions on their use. More of these events are planned for the future.
Mr Cardno said: “The feedback we have received from fishermen at these events has been tremendous, with many skippers remarking upon how convenient they are to wear for their crews without hindering activity on a busy fishing deck.”
To qualify for a free PFD, fishermen need to possess their full mandatory certification and the fishing licence on their vessel must be administered by Marine Scotland. Fishermen who hold a certificate of competency or service, or who have completed the risk assessment/safety awareness course, are also eligible to receive a free PFD.
Fishermen from throughout Scotland can apply for their free PFD by downloading the application form on the SFF website.