Calls for GPS device to be mandatory on commercial fishing vessels

Calls for GPS device to be mandatory on commercial fishing vessels

ALERT: Chris Wason, vice-president of the South West Inshore Fishermen’s Association

APPROACH: The coastguard responding to a call

First published in News Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A ‘LIFE-saving’ device saved two fishermen after their boat broke down in Lyme Bay.

Now, coastguards and members of the Fishermen’s Authority are calling for everyone using commercial fishing vessels to carry personal locator beacons.

The Coastguard Rescue Helicopter and the RNLI Lifeboat were launched on Friday to find the fishing boat, called Sole Trader, after it broke down so far out to sea that those aboard could not get a mobile phone signal.

Instead they used a personal locator beacon, which alerted coastguards via a radio distress channel, and they were rescued within an hour of searching 29 miles south west of Portland Bill.

A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said: “It is amazing that the locator beacon was used and in this instance enabled us to find the boat quickly.

“If the boat had not been fitted with this device the first we would have heard about it was when the alarm was raised by a loved one when the fishermen did not come home. It is certainly something we would recommend and it could be life-saving.”

South West Inshore Fish-ermen’s Association (FA) vice-president Chris Wason, from Lyme Regis, also called for people to use the devices at sea.

He said: “It is definitely something that’s recommended by the FA and also by the Maritime and Coastal Agency. They are extremely good pieces of equipment because the rescue services know exactly where to look.

“They work by giving out a GPS position through a radio frequency, which can be picked up by coastguards but also other fishing vessels, which could come to the rescue if they are nearby.”

Mr Wason added: “It is important to remember that with the personal locator beacons, they set off automatically if you go so far away from the boat, so when you get to shore you need to take them off.”

The coastguard spokesman added that there have been renewed calls for the devices in the wake of the Purbeck Isle tragedy after fishermen David MacFarlane, Jack Craig and Robert Prowse left Weymouth Harbour to go whelking at 8.30am on May 17, 2012 and never returned.

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