EVERY Scottish fisherman is to be offered a free personal flotation device in a major life saving initiative being spearheaded by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation.
The pioneering scheme was announced on the opening day of the fisheries expo in Aberdeen and was immediately praised by Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Fisheries Minister.
A spokesman for the federation explained: “The new Personal Flotation Devices (PFD) are being made available to every commercial fisherman in Scotland in a new initiative led by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF).
“Under the scheme, every fisherman in Scotland with the correct mandatory certification will have the opportunity to apply for the latest PFD - and get it for free. The SFF is donating in excess of £130,000 via the Scottish Fishermen’s Trust to support the project, aided by £10,000 from the UK Fisheries Offshore Oil & Gas Trust Fund, along with £306,604 European Fisheries Fund support.”
Bertie Armstrong, SFF chief executive, said: “The fishermen that catch our much valued seafood work in an inherently dangerous environment. We are committed to improving safety at sea and this is why we are pushing forward this exciting new initiative that will encourage fishermen to wear personal flotation devices and also raise the overall awareness of the importance of safety within the industry.”
Mr Lochhead said: “I am delighted this life saving project has started and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this crucial scheme. The fishing industry is vital to many of our rural communities all across Scotland and the safety of our fishermen is extremely important. Due to what can be a very dangerous working environment, too many fishermen pay the ultimate sacrifice to bring food to our tables.”
Derek Cardno, the SFF’s safety officer, said the RNLI, the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, Ocean Safety and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had all agreed to support the distribution of the PFDs.
He added: “Along with the SFF, these organisations will play a huge role in providing training and advice to fishermen around the country in the form of road shows and the organised handovers of the PFDs. We are committed to ensuring the free distribution of the latest PFDs for fishermen is very much a hands-on affair where we have direct contact and communication with the end-user.”