Plymouth’s lifejacket scheme goes national

Plymouth’s trail blazing lifejacket scheme is to be rolled out across the country.

Fishing crews based in Plymouth were all offered free E250 lifejackets with personal locator beacons, thanks to an innovative project set up by Plymouth City Council.

Now the scheme will be rolled out in fishing ports up and down the country as part of the National Marine Safety Action Plan which is designed to help reduce loss of life and accidents within the local fishing industry.

Council Leader Tudor Evans said: “This is brilliant news. Britain’s Ocean City is leading the way in protecting those who risk their lives at sea. Where Plymouth leads, others follow!

“Fishing is massively important to Plymouth – it’s where 13 per cent of the national catch is landed – but we are all too aware that it is a dangerous industry and we wanted to see if there was more we could do to keep our people safe at sea.

“I could not be more proud of the work we have done here to make this happen. It’s been a real joint effort between the fishing community – the crews, their families have all been right behind us – they’re buzzing about it on Twitter.”

The project received funding from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Maritime Management Organisation and was designed with input from fishermen’s representatives, SEAFISH and the emergency services. It aimed to create a more coordinated community approach to training and equipment to reduce the number of fishermen’s lives lost at sea.

Since it launched the scheme in 2017, 250 life jackets have been distributed and 60 more are being allocated at the moment. The Council has taken calls from Cornwall to Inverness and all ports in between asking for advice on how to set up the scheme.

Now as part of the Marine Safety Action Plan £250,000 will be set aside to extend the fishing lifejacket scheme, meaning an extra 500 lifejackets and personal locator beacons for boats across the UK. A further f£700,000 has also been allocated to provide fishers lifesaving training.

The life-jackets have in-built locator beacons and were distributed by Saltash company, MarineCo. The project was designed with input from fishermen’s representatives and the emergency services to create a more coordinated community approach to training and equipment to reduce the number of fishermen’s lives lost at sea.

The scheme has cross-party support from councillors and MPs as well as the Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authorities, RNLI, Maritime Coastguard Agency and importantly, the fishermen and their families.