Fishing vessel owner releases shocking video to show lifesaving ability of PFDs and safety equipment

Published: 02/11/2021

Watch this video and tell us safety isn’t important.

One ‘rogue wave’ and fisherman John, without a safety harness and PFD (Personal Flotation Device), would have been washed away, never to be seen – alive – again.

Or that is what fishing vessel owner John Clark believes, after watching last week’s incident unfold on the CCTV footage from Reliance III.

The Fraserburgh-based fisherman is a keen safety advocate for the fishing industry and has released the short clip to demonstrate how important safety equipment is onboard.

“The video shows why safety measures are lifesavers, fishing is a dangerous profession however careful you are – you are miles away at sea, often on your own, if something goes wrong, it’s going to be bad,” he said.

“There’s sometimes a bit of reluctance and crews can say things like ‘it’s because of you saying this that I have more costs and regulations to follow’, but that is the point: Look at how many fishermen don’t come home, the safety equipment and regulations are what bring those fishermen home.

“We’ve had a number of losses in this area in the last year, it’s a big problem around here.

“Fishing is the most dangerous job in the world, but it doesn’t have to be, people can be stubborn about spending the money on the safety gear, but considering what it does, that view doesn't make sense to me. You can’t put a price on a person’s life.

“The sad reality is that the message is not always getting through, and it really needs to, that’s why I published this video – I hope to help get the message through.

“The last thing I ever want to have to do is knock on a family’s door and have to be the person that gives them the worst news of their life, their loved one isn’t coming home.”

He said his crew were pulling up their nets, approximately 50 nautical miles off Scrabster, north Scotland, on Wednesday night in stormy conditions when the colossal wave completely engulfed the 20m twin-rig trawler.

When the water subsides enough to see what is left behind, it becomes clear the force of it had swept crewman John off his feet and into the heavy swell.

But rather than watching a tragedy unfold, John is not at the mercy of the wave; he is able to stay close to the central pole before eventually standing up. Other than looking understandably confused and drenched through, he is fine.

“That’s why safety is so important,” his boss John said.

“I tell the guys to ‘wear your harness and PFD, it will save your life one day’, this is exactly why I tell them that. If he hadn’t been wearing them, we would not be having this nice conversation today.

“The safety measures I have on board my vessel are there to save lives but the key thing is that he used them.”

John Clark, has fully embraced safety measures in the fishing industry, having experienced a scary moment in 2013.

The 49-year-old said he found himself in a man overboard incident and realised how easily it can happen.

“I was dragged over the side of my own vessel when we were a long way from the coast and I was very, very lucky,” he explained. "My arm got twisted in a rope and so I stayed connected to the boat. It did some damage, but it kept me alive.

“It’s very fair to say that if I hadn’t been attached, I wouldn’t be here now. It made me realise how dangerous fishing can be, and it made me very safety conscious.

“My guy just learned the same valuable lesson that I did almost 10 years ago, if he wasn’t attached to the boat, we would probably be having a very different, and difficult, conversation. He told me he knows the harness is why he wasn’t washed off the deck.”

Read our man overboard safety awareness training and events blog. We highly encourage anyone working on a fishing vessel to book and attend these fully funded events to help prevent man overboard incidents.