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Buoyancy Aids: Fishing Vessels

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has undertaken on the potential to save lives of the introduction of compulsory personal flotation devices to the UK fishing fleet; and if she will make a statement. (156816)

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) commissioned research entitled "Practical Application of Regulatory Impact Diagrams to Buoyancy Equipment at Work for Fishermen" which was completed in February 2001. This addressed all factors which may affect the wearing of buoyancy devices at sea.

All fishing vessels are required to carry lifejackets but the report argued that prior to taking a regulatory approach to wearing lifejackets, we needed to identify the needs and experiences of lifejacket users, in order to gauge the requirements for regulations. This finding was supported by research which demonstrated that safety precautions show little correlation with the likelihood of accidents.

Following publication of this report the MCA has participated in research by the Seafish Industry Authority (Seafish) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute on Lifejacket and Buoyancy Aid Acceptability Trials. The trials of 24 products were in two stages, a test tank assessment to ensure that products are effective when worn with ‘sea gear' and long term assessments by fishermen in the course of fishing.

The results of the research have been made available to the industry to inform the purchase and wearing of such equipment and manufacturers of buoyancy aids and lifejackets to inform development.

The MCA has also recently undertaken research on the approach taken to the wearing of lifejackets adopted by other countries, and the effect on casualty statistics, and is currently assessing the findings of this research.