The Bishop of Exeter received the following written answers on 5th September 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked Her Majesty’s Government, further to the publication of the 2021 Marine Accident Investigation Branch Annual Report on 9 June, what steps they are taking to reduce the numbers of unsafe pilot ladders.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con): The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is engaging with UK pilot safety stakeholders, under the UK Safety of Navigation Committee (UKSON), to look to reduce the numbers of unsafe pilot ladders. This includes discussions on pilot transfer safety.
Pilot ladder reports are logged and local Marine Surveyors must investigate and take appropriate action. They are required to look at pilot ladders during their surveys on board UK flagged vessels and during Port State Control inspections on foreign vessels, in accordance with the Paris Memorandum of Understanding.
The MCA is also liaising with, among others, the International Maritime Organization, UK maritime industry, International Association of Classification Societies and International Standards Organization to foster international collaboration and influence suitable changes and amendments to relevant conventions, regulations and standards on pilot ladder safety.
The Lord Bishop of Exeter asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the 2021 Marine Accident Investigation Branch Annual Report, published on 9 June; in particular, the finding that 10 commercial fishermen lost their lives in 2021, the highest figure in a decade; and what steps they are taking in response to improve maritime safety and reduce fatalities.
Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Con): The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) Annual Report reflects that fishing remains the most dangerous industry in the UK. Owners and Skippers are ultimately responsible for the safety of their vessels and crew.
Following the MAIB recommendations to improve maritime safety and reduce fatalities, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) introduced the Small Fishing Vessel Code of Practice in September 2021, which sets minimum standards for vessel construction, machinery, water freeing, freeboard, and stability. Vessels are now inspected both in and out of the water and the MCA have introduced inspections to take place at random, outside of the routine inspection cycle.
In addition, Seafish and the MCA have developed the Home and Dry website and have run three safety campaigns covering: risk assessment; man overboard and vessel stability. Since 2008, the MCA has provided £3 million to enable Seafish to obtain match funding to provide free safety training. The MCA have also supported the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Seafish in the delivery of Man Overboard Awareness events. The MCA are also developing new training and certification requirements which will extend certification for skippers of vessels from 16.5m to 7m.
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