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Gildernew launches Sea Fishing safety initiative

5 December, 2007


Sinn Féin Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has launched a new initiative which uses satellite and mapping technology to save the lives of fishermen who fall overboard.

The Man Over Board (MOB) Guardian is an innovative safety system that monitors a vessel's position and automatically alerts emergency services of a man overboard.

The technology works by automatically transmitting regular updates of a vessel's position, course and speed via satellite to the RNLI. The system also includes Personal Safety Devices (PSDs) that automatically alert emergency services of a man overboard. If a fisherman falls into the water, an alarm is activated onboard and automatically alerts search and rescue organisations of the individual's and the boat's position - typically within two minutes.

Speaking at the launch of the project in Ardglass Harbour Michelle Gildernew said:

"Every year between 20 and 30 fishermen lose their lives in the waters off these Islands. The Man Overboard Guardian vessel alerting system could greatly reduce that number by cutting the time it takes rescuers to locate anyone who has fallen into the water."

Referring to the recent tragedy in Donegal the Minister said:

"I was saddened to learn of the loss of a father and son in Donegal Bay on Monday when they were thrown from their boat. This really brings home how dangerous fishing is as a profession. I hope that our fishermen, especially those who work single-handed on our smaller fishing boats, will consider the benefits of purchasing a MOB Guardian."

"My Department has worked closely with the fishing industry and their Producer Organisations on safety issues in the past and has provided funding for equipment such as EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and life rafts and for safety training courses. Under this latest initiative my Department is offering to cover 40% of the cost of fitting the RLNI's lifesaving Man Overboard Guardian device to fishing boats.

"I want to encourage the further development of a safety culture within the fishing industry and DARD will continue to work the RNLI, the Marine and Coastguard Agency and the industry to make that happen."

Application forms for the new equipment will be available widely through the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers Organisation, the NI Fish Producers Organisation, Life boat stations and from Harbour Masters Offices and by contacting DARD on 02890 524999 and asking for MOB Guardian.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. Grants are being made available under the South Down Fisheries Taskforce initiative at a rate of 40%.
  2. MOB Guardian's normal installed price is around £2,000 +VAT. For owners of a registered 'UK' fishing boat the price is reduced to £1,260 + VAT by the suppliers, McMurdo. DARD funding further reduces this cost by £505 and the RNLI Trust provides a further subsidy of £441. This means that the fisherman will pay just £315 +VAT for the unit.
  3. Aditionally, if the fishing vessel is insured by Sunderland Marine or Scottish Boatowners the £315 can be claimed back from them. Orders places by 30 September 2008 will receive a first years airtime at half price.
  4. Grant funding is available from DARD for 80 units, however the scheme can be extended if it is oversubscribed.

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