In addition to the basic accident prevention principles of Section 3.2.1 that everyone should be aware of, fishing boat crew should also pay special attention to the following, so that they are properly prepared if they have to deal with an emergency:

Emergency Management – Man Overboard

  • Immediately shout out “Man Overboard!”
  • Do not lose sight of the man at sea. A crew member should be constantly looking at him and pointing with his hand towards his direction. Get ready to turn the boat around so you can always maintain eye contact with him.
  • Turn the boat to the side of the accident so that the propeller is far away from the man at sea
  • Immediately discard a circular lifejacket with a rope and be prepared to activate the alarm devices, mark the exact location and make an emergency call (MAYDAY) to other boats or to rescue authorities.
  • Turn the boat and locate it in parallel. Use the fastest and safest manoeuvres for any occasion (Williamson turn or similar method).
  • The pickup of the man at sea depends on the prevailing conditions and whether he is able to contribute to the process.
  • Those involved in the pickup must wear a PFD and a safety net. Use a loop rope in combination with a mechanical pulley or retractable winch to lift the man into the boat.
  • Place the man in a supine position for as long as possible to reduce the effects of hydrostatic pressure.
  • Have the First Aid Kit ready and an isothermal blanket to provide immediate care. Prepare to call the Coast Guard for help and have the process ready in the event of a transfer, either by boat or by helicopter.

Emergency Management – What should I do in case of fire?

Inflammable material and objects

  • Oil, gasoline and lubricants.
  • Plumbing Oils.
  • Gas cylinders for cooking.
  • Soaked clothes

Simple steps to stability maintenance

  • Shout out “Fire!” and turn on the alarm.
  • The Captain decides whether to make an emergency call (MAYDAY).
  • Try to put out the fire by using a fire extinguisher.
  • Close all ventilation systems.
  • If you do not succeed, get out and close the specific area.
  • If possible, turn off all power and fuel supplies of the specific area.
  • Protect windshield life jackets from fire and place individual lifejackets in a safe and accessible location.
  • Use water sparingly to avoid stability problems (free surface).
  • Prepare to leave the boat.
  • Close the doors and mouths of hulls
  • Keep deck water wells and outlets open and free of obstacles so that water drains quickly
  • Secure the catches and fishing gear to prevent any displacement
  • Transfer fishing gear and fish from the deck to the hull
  • Avoid waves from behind
  • Avoid prolonged tilting of the boat when retrieving fishing gear
  • Do not neglect the boat engine

Effective maintenance of the engine is vital in ensuring its reliability. Only in adverse conditions does one appreciate how important it is that the main engine and auxiliary machines on your boat work reliably.

  • Take care of safe embarkation and disembarkation from the boat – about 20% of fishing deaths in Europe occur within port, caused from accidents during embarkation or disembarkation (European Risk Prevention Guide to Small Fishing Boats, 2016).
  • Always wear Safety & Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

According to MAIB data (1992-2006), the three most important causes of death in small fishing boats are: overturning (29%), man at sea (28%) and water inflow / sinking (23%). In all cases, fishermen lost their lives due to drowning. If, however, they were wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, many of them could have been saved. 

  • Be careful not to slip/stumble/fall…
    The fishing boat is a limited area where many people live together. It is often a slippery working place in constant movement. Take precautionary measures and avoid risks.