Trawler disaster – where was the training?

Cape Town – A lack of training could have been a contributing factor in the deaths of nine fishermen who abandoned their trawler off the Cape coast on Sunday night.

Durban University of Technology’s Maritime Studies head Leon Govender said a lack of emergency training in the fishing industry as a whole was of concern.

“We need to take cognisance of the fact that safety and emergency training in the fishing industry is not as good as in the commercial sphere, and a lot of the people are not as skilled as they would be on the larger vessels,” he said.

He said any call by the captain to abandon ship when it was taking on water, needed to be made with the crew in mind.

“When a skipper makes the decision to abandon ship, a number of considerations should be at the front of his mind, primarily the safety of the crew. Your best lifeboat is the boat itself and perhaps the decision to abandon ship would be premature considering the craft is still afloat.”

Govender added that whether or not the crew had donned life jackets and inflated lifeboats would be a focal point of the investigation into the tragedy.

“Given that the ship did not sink, one can assume they would have had time to put life jackets on and inflate their lifeboats, which a vessel of that size should have had onboard,” Govender said.

Written by PH

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