NINE CREWMEN OVERBOARD IN TWO SEPARATE INCIDENTS
The Falkland Islands Government (FIG) committed to ensuring safety of fishermen in its waters
At 12:14 (GMT-3), Tuesday 17th February, 2015, the Royal Falkland Islands Police (RFIP) received notification via the FIG Fisheries Operations that seven Vietnamese crewmen were missing from the Taiwanese jigger, Jin Yi, which had been operating in Falkland Islands waters.
As soon as the crew were reported missing the Jin Yi was recalled to Stanley Harbour. A search of Stanley Harbour and the Port William area was launched by Emergency Services. The search team comprised Emergency Services and volunteers and included an RAF Search and Rescue team, a FIG Air Service aircraft, local launches and searchers on foot and in vehicles.
All seven of the crewmen have been found alive and unharmed. They were transported to Stanley Police Station by RFIP and were assessed by a doctor from the King Edward’s Memorial Hospital. They were all found to be physically well.
Following an inspection of the vessel and interviews with the crew on board, no obvious motive for the seven crew members to leave the ship has been established. The rescued crew will also be interviewed by the Emergency Services as per FIG protocol to ensure their welfare is protected.
In a separate incident, at 06:20 (GMT-3), Wednesday 18th, 2015, a different vessel reported two crewmen missing. The vessel was anchored in Port William and the crew were last seen on-board around midnight. Another search was launched by Emergency Services and community volunteers, which included support from a UK military contingent and RAF Search and Rescue team. The vessel was recalled back to Port William as soon as the crew were reported missing.
One body has been recovered with the other crewmember still unaccounted for. As per the FIG procedure in incidents of this kind, the Captain and crew will be interviewed by the Emergency Services in due course and the Coroner has been informed.
Attempts to notify the next-of-kin of the two crewmen are in process and until such time as this has been completed, no identifying detail regarding the vessel or the missing crewmen will be released to the media.
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Phyl Rendell MBE – with responsibility for the Department of Natural Resources, said:
“The Falkland Islands Government is very relieved, along with the entire Falklands’ population, that the seven crew members who left their vessel yesterday have been found alive and well. Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family of the crewman who did not survive and the family of the crewman who is still missing.”
John Barton MBE – Director of Natural Resources (which covers the fisheries) said:
“This is something that everyone in the Islands takes very seriously. We are committed to ending incidents of this kind and are working closely with fishing operators and flag states to ensure the safety of fishermen in Falklands waters.
This is a problem that extends beyond the Falklands’ fisheries, and in an attempt to resolve this issue, FIG has initiated dialogue with the states in which fishing vessels are flagged. Approaches have also been made via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the states from where many of the crew are recruited and where crew recruitment agencies operate.”
FIG maintains a rigorous licensing regime to ensure all vessels operate to the highest possible standards. All vessels arriving to collect fishing licenses undergo an inspection checking essential lifesaving appliances; sufficient life raft places; equipment in date; and a host of other safety features. A significant proportion of vessels have extended inspections each year which verify that a wider range of safety equipment is in place. Failure to comply will result in no licenses being granted.
These inspections also give the opportunity for the inspecting Fishery Officers and attending Customs and Immigration officials to see the crew and to detect any potential problems or complaints. Throughout the season fisheries observers are deployed on a selection of vessels for two-three weeks to collect scientific data and to observe operations.
NOTES TO EDITORS
When an incident of jumping overboard occurs, the Captain and others will be subject to an investigation by police, fisheries and custom officials to ascertain the circumstances, regardless of whether mistreatment is alleged. In the case of those crew who have jumped and/or who make allegations of maltreatment, the individuals will be accommodated onshore. The Captain and other crew will remain on the fishing vessel. Independent translators will be obtained so interviews are conducted impartially with no opportunity for pressure from Captain or Owners to be applied.
In addition to those crew who have left the vessel, the crew on the vessel will also be interviewed to get their views and see if they have any complaints. The results of such investigations – in which they crewmembers on-board are also interviewed independently of the Captain and other members of the crew – show that mistreatment is a very rare reason for jumping.
Over the last year a committee representing FIG officials, the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA), the Lighthouse Seaman’s Mission and MLAs has been addressing the complex issues around conditions on foreign flagged vessels and a code of practice is being compiled for distribution to licensees. As a result of this the “Port Welfare Committee” was set up. This aims to ensure the expected standards of care for fishermen who are ashore for any reason and includes access to clothing, telephone facilities and medical treatment.
The vessels involved are in the majority of cases owned and operated by Korean and Taiwanese fishing companies. The crew come from a variety of countries, most commonly Taiwan, The Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. FIG has attempted to address the issues at source and has raised concerns with the Governments of Korea and Taiwan through the FCO.
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