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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 18 December, 2014

Half of maritime deaths since 2002 were on recreational craft

There were 134 maritime deaths in Irish seas since 2002. “We want no fatalities on Irish seas,” said Leo Varadkar

Image: Ship hull via Shutterstock

THERE HAVE BEEN 134 maritime deaths in Ireland since 2002, latest figures show.

They were released as Transport Minister Leo Varadkar called for a ‘sea change’ in attitudes to maritime safety in Ireland.

The 134 deaths in the maritime sector can be broken down as follows:

Leisure activities:

  • 66 fatalities (49% of total)
  • Youngest fatality (15 years)
  • Oldest fatality (71 years)

Fishing Sector:

  • 51 fatalities (38% of total)
  • Youngest fatality (21 years)
  • Oldest fatality (70 years)

Passenger Sector:

  • 11 fatalities (8% of total)
  • Youngest fatality (14 years)
  • Oldest fatality (73 years)

Cargo Sector:

  • 6 fatalities (5% of total)
  • Youngest fatality (20 years)
  • Oldest fatality (55 years)

Minister Varadkar released the figures as he kick-started a maritime safety strategy consultation: Sea Change – Building a new Maritime Safety Culture.

He highlighted that almost half of the maritime fatalities in the past 12 years were as a result of leisure activities on recreational craft.

Minister Varadkar said: “We all need to take a fresh look at how we use the waters in and around our island, and build a culture of maritime safety in our communities. This requires a radical change of culture in our attitude to safety.”

The sea and any open water can be hostile and dangerous environments and demand total respect. By consulting with stakeholders and the general public, we want to reach a situation where there are no fatalities.

The results of the consultation process will feed into the first ever Maritime Safety Strategy for Ireland. This Strategy is being prepared by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport and borrows from the successful road safety strategies that have helped make Ireland’s roads safer over the last 15 years.

The goal is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries which occur every year on craft in our coastal and inland waters.

Loss of life at sea

Sea Change looks at how to address the top 10 factors contributing to loss of life at sea in Ireland:

  • Lack of an adequate maritime safety culture
  • Unsuitable or inadequately maintained safety equipment on board, or lack thereof
  • Lack of crew training
  • Failure to plan journeys safely, including failure to take sea/weather conditions into account
  • Non-wearing of personal flotation device (PFD)
  • Vessel unseaworthy, unstable and/or overloaded
  • Inadequate enforcement of regulations
  • Impairment due to fatigue or the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Inadequate crewing levels/solo operation
  • Unsuitable clothing being worn on board.

Varadkar said: “We have to learn from past tragedies, in memory of those who have lost their lives, and safeguard future generations.”

He urged people to engage with this consultation process – it runs until 29 August 2014, and the new strategy will be published later this year.

Read: EU Commission sets out plan to harvest energy from our seas and oceans>

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