The families of the Nicola Faith tragedy have vowed to do all they can to improve commercial fishing safety, on the one-year anniversary of the devastating loss of all three crew members.
Carl McGrath, Ross Ballantine and Alan Minard sadly lost their lives when their vessel went missing off the coast of Conwy, Wales on 27 January 2021. Their bodies were found several weeks later. Now, their families have spoken about the traumatic wait for news, in the hope that by raising awareness of the risks of the sea they will be able to urge other fishermen to wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) and carry a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).
Fishing is the most dangerous industry with the rate of fatalities being approximately 100 times higher than that of the UK general workforce. Ten commercial fishermen tragically lost their lives in accidents at sea last year, making it the highest number of deaths in a decade, according to data from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).
“I lost my son to the sea,” Alan’s mum Rebekah Minard said. “And I really would never like anybody else to ever have to go through this. I understand fishing is a dangerous occupation, but there are things fishermen and fisherwomen can do to prevent loss of life and negate the risks of their chosen career.
“There are things that they can do to help save their own lives, to help save the lives of their crewmen, and to prevent their families having to feel like this.”
The families of the three fishermen spoke out as they attended a Man Overboard Training event at Fleetwood Nautical Campus, organised by the Fishing Industry Safety Group. They attended a classroom session and watched from the sidelines, as fishermen were put into a survival pool with and without lifejackets to experience first-hand the benefit of wearing one.
Images credited to RNLI
As part of the course, which was attended by fishermen from across North Wales, the families spoke with delegates about the impact of their loss in the hope they would see the importance of wearing the correct kit and being prepared for emergency scenarios. The RNLI also captured interviews with the family members which will be used on future courses to stress to fishermen the suffering endured by families of such fishing tragedies.
The course delivery is led by the RNLI, while Seafish are administrators of the funding, which was provided by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Trinity House.
Further free Man Overboard Awareness events are taking place at the National Maritime College of Ireland in Cork (3-6 February), East Coast College, Lowestoft (1-3 March), Fleetwood Nautical Campus (11-12 March) and the Survivex, Aberdeen (10-12 May).
Fishermen from across the UK are encouraged to attend by emailing email@example.com.
The events come as part of a concerted effort by the MCA and its partners in FISG to help reduce the number of deaths in the industry.
FISG’s Home and Dry campaign, created with support from the fishing industry, helps to share vital safety information on fishing safety. The group has run three safety campaigns so far, including man overboard prevention and vessel stability.