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Friday 29 March 2024

Medical 'exemption' - but does it go far enough?

The thinking behind the medical requirement being introduced in the first place was, for many in the industry based on little or no evidence. Fishing organisations, going back decades, struggled to find any incidents where the existing health condition of any fisherman resulted in an accident or loss of life at sea .

While transport Secretary, Mark Harper may be happy with his announcement in Newlyn on Tuesday, many fishermen feel there is still a fight to be had over the 'exemptions'. None present at the announcement would have disagreed with Mark Harper that fishing is not without risks - but every fisherman who goes to sea is fully aware of the risks, trained in sea survival, first aid and firefighting and is not only equipped with safety equipment but subject to a host of rules and regulations to abide by dictated by the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

A coastguard with 25 years experience had this to say,

And as one ex-fisherman said, 

"I don't buy the Transport Secretary's response that even a singlehanded fisherman puts someone else's life at risk if they get in trouble - compare the 8,000 UK fishermen taking every precaution to the millions of holiday-makers on the water off our shores every summer who are completely unregulated - on average the RNLI responds to 8,500 call-outs a year - what data is the 'risk assessment' based on to justify such draconian rules on inshore fishermen?

And, as if to make that point graphically, Plymouth Harbour posted this video today which totally vindicates the fishermen's argument against the imposition of the need for a medical in the first place.

It was posted with the permission of the unfortunate boater.